A rare interview with the leading Kantian moral philosopher here. Great to see so much love for Jimmy Stewart, though she missed off Rope. Parfit’s thought experiment, which I hadn’t heard of before, was also fascinating:
[A] Russian nobleman who [is] in his youth was a socialist planning to redistribute his wealth who worries that when he gets old enough to do this he’ll have changed his mind and become conservative. So he decides to act now to make a contract to bind his later self. Only his wife can revoke this contract and he asks that she will not ask him to revoke it even if his later self pleads with her to do so.
[T]he example is not supposed to be like the famous story of Odysseus tying himself to the mast to avoid doing something irrational when he hears the Sirens sing. The younger nobleman does not regard his later self as being irrational, merely as being different. I think that’s a problem. I argue first that it is impossible to interact properly with someone who takes this attitude towards himself – the nobleman puts his wife in an impossible position, since she must either wrong his younger self by breaking her promise to him, or wrong his older self by ignoring his right to do as he likes with his own estates. Then I argue that for similar reasons the nobleman cannot interact properly with himself.
Hat Tip: Zack Beauchamp.