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Justin F. White

Abstract

Disavowals such as "That's not who I am" are one way to distance ourselves from unsavory actions in order to try to mitigate our responsibility for them. Although such disclaimers can be what Frankfurt (1988) calls "shabbily insincere devices for obtaining unmerited indulgence," they can also be a way to renew our commitments to new values as part of the processes of aspiration and moral improvement described by Callard (2018) and Stohr (2019). What, then, separates backsliding aspirants from those in bad faith who seek unmerited indulgence? I propose a two-dimensional account of practical identity that allows us to distinguish the aspirant from the superficially similar cases of denial, bad faith, and self-deception. A key element to the account is how one responds to what I call residual practical identities.

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