Sunday, April 05, 2009
Westlund, Andrea C. Review of Two Works by Kim Atkins. NDPR (April 2009).
Atkins, Kim. Narrative Identity and Moral Identity: a Practical Perspective. London: Routledge, 2008. Atkins, Kim, and Catriona Mackenzie, eds. Practical Identity and Narrative Agency. London: Routledge, 2008. Narrative conceptions of agency have attracted considerable philosophical interest in recent years, and both of these books make significant contributions to the growing literature on this theme. Each treats a wide range of related concepts, including not just narrative agency itself but also personal and practical identity, temporality and the self, practical reasoning, and autonomy. Kim Atkins' Narrative Identity and Moral Identity is a book about the nature of human selfhood. Atkins uses the terms "selfhood" and "identity" interchangeably, and approaches her subject in part through a discussion of theories of personal identity. Her central interest, however, is in practical rather than metaphysical identity. A person, in the sense of interest to Atkins, is a practical unity of first-, second-, and third-personal perspectives (more on this below), and questions about personal identity, in her sense, are questions about the continuity of this practical unity over time. . . . Atkins and Mackenzie's edited volume, Practical Identity and Narrative Agency, is organized around many of the same themes that are central to Atkins' own book. Its papers treat topics including the relationship between metaphysical and practical identity, the relationship between practical reasoning and practical identity, the reflective capacities required for practical reasoning and autonomy, and, of course, the role of narrative in all of the above. For the most part I will limit myself to brief summaries of the main claims defended in each paper, and will reserve my more extended remarks for those that most centrally involve the concept of narrative. . . . Read the whole review here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=15745.