First-Person Authority

Book Manuscript

“The norms of first-person authority”

In this book, I investigate the norms that guide deference typical of first-person authority, employing an interpersonal non-intellectualist framework.

Research Project

“Beyond the typical: authority among diverse and playful mind”

This project is funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung “Original Isn’t it?” program. First-person authority is a phenomenon that governs how we deal with people’s expressions of their minds: we attribute first-person authority to others when we accept them as being in a privileged position to communicate their thoughts, fears, wishes and the like. Increasingly, practices of inclusive, responsive parenting ascribe first-person authority to very young children. Despite this tendency, philosophy seems to be one step behind. The accepted view is one according to which first-person authority has its locus in linguistic expressions of one’s self-knowledge. This is an over-intellectualized conception, however, that consequently excludes children (and other people) from the scope of application of the phenomenon.

This project aims to develop a non-intellectualized conception of first-person authority that includes those who do not fall under the category of the typical adult. It focuses on infants and children as paradigmatic examples of ‘non-typical’ people who have been overlooked by our traditional theories but also explores other groups such as neurodiverse people (e.g. those with autism) and people with mental disorders (e.g. schizophrenia). Focusing on children allows for the surprising possibility of combining ethics and playfulness: fully attributing authority to young minds may require engaging in their favorite mode of interpersonal interaction.