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2022 ◽  
Vol 0 (0) ◽  
Damiano Ranzenigo

Abstract Aim of this paper is to support the view that all human practical identities are contingent by arguing against the view that there is at least one necessary practical identity shared by all human beings, namely Humanity. The view that Humanity is a necessary practical identity is explicitly defended by Christine M. Korsgaard (Korsgaard, C. M. 1996. The Sources of Normativity, edited by O. O’Neill. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Korsgaard, C. M. 2009. Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, and Integrity. New York: Oxford University Press) and indirectly by Marya Schechtman (Schechtman, M. 2014. Staying Alive: Personal Identity, Practical Concerns, and the Unity of a Life. New York: Oxford University Press). Korsgaard understands Humanity both in terms of pure self-legislation, and as deep sociality. In the first case, Humanity as self-legislation faces what I call ‘Existential dilemma’: either Humanity has specific content, typical of contingent practical identities, but stops being necessary for all human beings; or Humanity is emptied of its content and is conceived of as necessary self-legislation, but stops being a practical identity. In the second case, i.e., Humanity as deep sociality, Korsgaard confuses the necessary natural fact that human beings are social creatures, with contingent contexts of human socialization, which are the true sources of specifically human practical identities. I articulate this confusion in the guise of what I call ‘Nature/Nurture dilemma’, which also applies to the morally neutral account of human personhood advocated by Schechtman (Schechtman, M. 2014. Staying Alive: Personal Identity, Practical Concerns, and the Unity of a Life. Oxford University Press). In conclusion, I address the worry that without the necessary practical identity of Humanity we might not be able to extend our practical and moral concerns to distant fellow human beings by sketching an alternative path to extend such concerns.

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