Andrea Westlund
Department of Philosophy
End-of-Year Fellowship Report for 2004-05

My work centers on a cluster of problems in moral psychology and social philosophy concerning personal autonomy, shared agency, joint decision-making, and shared identities.  My Center project, “Particular Others and the Self in Dialogue,” focuses on the way these various concepts come together in the context of relationships of friendship and love. I borrow the term “particular others” from feminist philosopher Virginia Held, who points out that those we care about seem to occupy “a middle ground” between the self and others in general. In some way our identities are shaped by these particular others; we in some sense share interests and ends with them, and they partly form our sense of who we are.  At the same time, however, such relationships are characterized by complex negotiations between distinct perspectives.  Much of what we share is not simply a product of love or care but forged through joint deliberation. My project is to work out a conception of joint deliberation for the context of personal relationships and, more generally, a conception of how friends and lovers may share ends and identities without sacrificing their autonomy.

Over the course of my year as a fellow I prepared two major components of this project for submission to journals and completed a preliminary version of a third component in the form of a conference paper submission. The first paper, “Joint Deliberation and the Sharing of Reasons,” develops a conception of joint practical deliberation as a special type of shared cooperative activity through which co-deliberators jointly accept reasons as applying to them as a pair or group. The second paper, “Love and the Sharing of Ends,” offers a critique of certain models of identity-fusion in love relationships and offers an alternative, practical account of shared identities. The third paper extends the project to consider how anger and forgiveness function in response to ruptures of interpersonal relationships. This paper builds on comments that I gave at a meeting of the American Philosophical Association in the spring of 2005.

Being a fellow at the Center has advanced my work considerably by giving me more time for my research, by providing a quiet and comfortable workspace that could be dedicated solely to work on this project, and by providing a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary discussion at the Fellows’ Seminar.  I presented a draft of my paper “Love and the Sharing of Ends” to Fellows’ Seminar in April of 2005, and benefited enormously from the excellent feedback I received there.

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Center for 21st Century Studies

Merry Wiesner-Hanks

Center for 21st Century Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201 USA
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  Last updated 9/2/08 by RVD