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  1. Habitually Breaking Habits.Joshua A. Bergamin - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.
    In this paper, I explore the question of agency in spontaneous action via a phenomenology of musical improvisation, drawing on fieldwork conducted with large con- temporary improvising ensembles. I argue that musical improvisation is a form of ‘participatory sense-making’ in which musical decisions unfold via a feedback pro- cess with the evolving musical situation itself. I describe how musicians’ technical expertise is developed alongside a responsive expertise, and how these capacities complicate the sense in which habitual action can be viewed (...)
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  2. God, Über-God, and Unter-God.Noah Gordon - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-16.
    I examine two related arguments for the claim that if God is omnipotent, God cannot lack abilities such as the ability to do evil or to act irrationally. Both arguments concern the idea that omnipotence is inconsistent with being dominated with respect to abilities. I raise new issues in the formulation of such dominance principles about ability, and attempt to solve them. I also discuss and reject existing objections to these arguments. I conclude that these arguments are promising but not (...)
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  3. Epistemic Cans.Tim Kearl & Christopher Willard-Kyle - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    We argue that S is in a position to know that p iff S can know that p. Thus, what makes position-to-know-ascriptions true is just a special case of what makes ability-ascriptions true: compossibility. The novelty of our compossibility theory of epistemic modality lies in its subsuming epistemic modality under agentive modality, the modality characterizing what agents can do.
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  4. Agentive Modals and Agentive Modality: A Cautionary Tale.Tim Kearl & Robert H. Wallace - 2024 - American Philosophical Quarterly 61 (2):139–155.
    In this paper, we consider recent attempts to metaphysically explain agentive modality in terms of conditionals. We suggest that the best recent accounts face counterexamples, and more worryingly, they take some agentive modality for granted. In particular, the ability to perform basic actions features as a primitive in these theories. While it is perfectly acceptable for a semantics of agentive modal claims to take some modality for granted in getting the extension of action claims correct, a metaphysical explanation of agentive (...)
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  5. Unavoidable actions.Justin A. Capes - 2023 - Philosophical Explorations 27 (1):57-73.
    ABSTRACT It’s often assumed, especially in discussions of free will and moral responsibility, that unavoidable actions are possible. In recent years, however, several philosophers have questioned that assumption. Their views are considered here, and the possibility of unavoidable actions is defended and then applied to issues in action theory and in the literature on moral responsibility.
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  6. I didn't think of that.Randolph Clarke - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):45-57.
    Consider cases in which an agent simply doesn.t think to do a certain thing, or doesn't think of a crucial consideration favoring doing a certain thing, or intends to do a certain thing but forgets to do it. In such a case, is the agent able to do the thing that she fails to do? Assume that commonly we all‐in can do things that we do not do. Here I argue that, given this assumption, in the cases under consideration, too, (...)
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  7. Theism and Secular Modality.Noah Gordon - 2023 - Dissertation, University of Southern California
    I examine issues in the philosophy of religion at the intersection of what possibilities there are and what a God, as classically conceived in the theistic philosophical tradition, would be able to do. The discussion is centered around arguing for an incompatibility between theism and two principles about possibility and ability, and exploring what theists should say about these incompatibilities. -/- I argue that theism entails that certain kinds and amounts of evil are impossible. This puts theism in conflict with (...)
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  8. An Agency-Based Epistemology of Modality.Barbara Vetter - 2023 - In Duško Prelević & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Epistemology of Modality and Philosophical Methodology. New York, NY: Routledge.
    My aim in this paper is to sketch, with a broad brush and in bare outlines, an approach to modal epistemology that is characterized by three distinctive features. First, the approach is agency-based: it locates the roots of our modal thought and knowledge in our experience of our own agency. Second, the approach is ambitious in that it takes the experience of certain modal properties in agency to be the sole distinctive feature of specifically modal thought and knowledge; everything that (...)
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  9. How (not) to think about the sense of ‘able’ relevant to free will.Simon Kittle - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (10):1289-1307.
    This essay is an investigation into the sense of ‘able’ relevant to free will, where free will is understood as requiring the ability to do otherwise. I argue that van Inwagen's recent functional specification of the relevant sense of ‘able’ is flawed, and that explicating the powers involved in free will shall likely require paying detailed attention to the semantics and pragmatics of ‘can’ and ‘able’. Further, I argue that van Inwagen's promise-level ability requirement on free will is too strong. (...)
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  10. On General and Non‐General Abilities.Simon Kittle - 2022 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 104 (1):124-144.
    I distinguish two ways an ability might be general: (i) an ability might be general in that its possession doesn't entail the possession of an opportunity; (ii) an ability might be general in virtue of pertaining to a wide range of circumstances. I argue that these two types of generality – I refer to them with the terms ‘general’ and ‘generic’, respectively – produce two orthogonal distinctions among abilities. I show that the two types of generality are sometimes run together (...)
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  11. Möglichkeit ohne mögliche Welten.Barbara Vetter - 2022 - Philosophisches Jahrbuch 129 (1):115-137.
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  12. The Poss-Ability Principle, G-cases, and Fitch Propositions.Noah Gordon - 2021 - Logos and Episteme 12 (1):117-125.
    There is a very plausible principle linking abilities and possibilities: If S is able to Φ, then it is metaphysically possible that S Φ’s. Jack Spencer recently proposed a class of counterexamples to this principle involving the ability to know certain propositions. I renew an argument against these counterexamples based on the unknowability of Fitch propositions. In doing so, I provide a new argument for the unknowability of Fitch propositions and show that Spencer’s counterexamples are in tension with a principle (...)
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  13. Revisiting the Six Stages of Skill Acquisition.B. Scot Rousse & Stuart E. Dreyfus - 2021 - In Teaching and Learning for Adult Skill Acquisition: Applying the Dreyfus & Dreyfus Model in Different Fields. Charlotte, NC, USA: pp. 3-28.
    The acquisition of a new skill usually proceeds through five stages, from novice to expert, with a sixth stage of mastery available for highly motivated performers. In this chapter, we re-state the six stages of the Dreyfus Skill Model, paying new attention to the transitions and interrelations between them. While discussing the fifth stage, expertise, we unpack the claim that, “when things are proceeding normally, experts don’t solve problems and don’t make decisions; they do what normally works” (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, (...)
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  14. Seumas Miller on Knowing-How and Joint Abilities.Yuri Cath - 2020 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 9:14-21.
    A critical discussion of Seumas Miller's view on knowing-how and joint abilities.
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  15. It’s Up to You.Randolph Clarke - 2020 - The Monist 103 (3):328-341.
    Part of our ordinary conception of our freedom is the idea that commonly when we act—and often even when we don’t act—it is up to us whether we do this or that. This paper examines efforts to spell out what must be the case for this idea to be correct. Several claims regarding the basic metaphysics of agential powers are considered; they are found not to shed light on the issue. Thinking about agents’ psychological capacities provides some illumination, though the (...)
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  16. Children’s Capacities and Paternalism.Samantha Godwin - 2020 - The Journal of Ethics 24 (3):307-331.
    Paternalism is widely viewed as presumptively justifiable for children but morally problematic for adults. The standard explanation for this distinction is that children lack capacities relevant to the justifiability of paternalism. I argue that this explanation is more difficult to defend than typically assumed. If paternalism is often justified when needed to keep children safe from the negative consequences of their poor choices, then when adults make choices leading to the same negative consequences, what makes paternalism less justified? It seems (...)
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  17. 'Ought Implies Can' and the Possibility of Group Obligations.Isaac Hadfield - 2020 - British Undergraduate Philosophy Review 1 (1):40-49.
    Positing group level obligations has come under attack from concerns relating to agency as a necessary requirement for obligation bearing. Roughly stated, the worry is that since only agents can have moral obligations, and groups are not agents, groups cannot have moral obligations. The intuition behind this constraint is itself based on the ability requirement of 'ought implies can': in order for a group to have an obligation it must have the ability to perform an action, but only agents can (...)
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  18. Unable to Do the Impossible.Anthony Nguyen - 2020 - Mind 129 (514):585-602.
    Jack Spencer has recently argued for the striking thesis that, possibly, an agent is able to do the impossible—that is, perform an action that is metaphysically impossible for that person to perform. Spencer bases his argument on (Simple G), a case in which it is impossible for an agent G to perform some action but, according to Spencer, G is still intuitively able to perform that action. I reply that we would have to give up at least four action-theoretical principles (...)
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  19. Exercising Abilities.J. Adam Carter - 2019 - Synthese (3):1-15.
    According to one prominent view of exercising abilities (e.g., Millar 2009), a subject, S, counts as exercising an ability to ϕ if and only if S successfully ϕs. Such an ‘exercise-success’ thesis looks initially very plausible for abilities, perhaps even obviously or analytically true. In this paper, however, I will be defending the position that one can in fact exercise an ability to do one thing by doing some entirely distinct thing, and in doing so I’ll highlight various reasons (epistemological, (...)
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  20. Free Will and Abilities to Act.Randolph Clarke - 2019 - In Klaus von Stosch Saskia Wendel (ed.), Streit um die Freiheit: Philosophische und theologische Beiträge. Schoeningh/Brill. pp. 41-62.
    This paper examines the view of abilities to act advanced by Kadri Vihvelin in Causes, Laws, and Free Will. Vihvelin argues that (i) abilities of an important kind are “structurally” like dispositions such as fragility; (ii) ascriptions of dispositions can be analyzed in terms of counterfactual conditionals; (iii) ascriptions of abilities of the kind in question can be analyzed similarly; and (iv) we have the free will we think we have by having abilities of this kind and being in circumstances (...)
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  21. Moral Responsibility Without General Ability.Taylor W. Cyr & Philip Swenson - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (274):22-40.
    It is widely thought that, to be morally responsible for some action or omission, an agent must have had, at the very least, the general ability to do otherwise. As we argue, however, there are counterexamples to the claim that moral responsibility requires the general ability to do otherwise. We present several cases in which agents lack the general ability to do otherwise and yet are intuitively morally responsible for what they do, and we argue that such cases raise problems (...)
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  22. Does Everyone Think the Ability to do Otherwise is Necessary for Free Will and Moral Responsibility?Simon Kittle - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (4):1177-1183.
    Christopher Franklin argues that, despite appearances, everyone thinks that the ability to do otherwise is required for free will and moral responsibility. Moreover, he says that the way to decide which ability to do otherwise is required will involve settling the nature of moral responsibility. In this paper I highlight one point on which those usually called leeway theorists - i.e. those who accept the need for alternatives - agree, in contradistinction to those who deny that the ability to do (...)
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  23. ›Wissen, dass‹ und ›Wissen, wie‹.David Löwenstein - 2019 - In Martin Grajner & Guido Melchior (eds.), Handbuch Erkenntnistheorie. Stuttgart: Metzler. pp. 116-121.
    This is an introduction to the debate about Know-how.
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  24. The Two-Dimensional Analysis of Feasibility: A Restatement.Renan Silva - 2019 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 6 (2):357-378.
    Pablo Gilabert and Holly Lawford-Smith have, both in collaboration and individually, provided a compelling account of feasibility, which states that feasibility is both ‘binary’ and ‘scalar’, and both ‘synchronic’ and ‘diachronic’. This two-dimensional analysis, however, has been the subject of four major criticisms: it has been argued that it rests upon a false distinction between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ constraints, that it ignores the importance of intentional action, and that diachronic feasibility is incoherent and insensitive to the existence of epistemic limitations. (...)
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  25. Basic Action and Practical Knowledge.Will Small - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    It is a commonplace in philosophy of action that there is and must be teleologically basic action: something done on an occasion without doing it by means of doing anything else. It is widely believed that basic actions are exercises of skill. As the source of the need for basic action is the structure of practical reasoning, this yields a conception of skill and practical reasoning as complementary but mutually exclusive. On this view, practical reasoning and complex intentional action depend (...)
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  26. Are abilities dispositions?Barbara Vetter - 2019 - Synthese 196 (196):201-220.
    Abilities are in many ways central to what being an agent means, and they are appealed to in philosophical accounts of a great many different phenomena. It is often assumed that abilities are some kind of dispositional property, but it is rarely made explicit exactly which dispositional properties are our abilities. Two recent debates provide two different answers to that question: the new dispositionalism in the debate about free will, and virtue reliabilism in epistemology. This paper argues that both answers (...)
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  27. An Analysis of Recent Empirical Data on ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’.Yishai Cohen - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (1):57-67.
    Recent experimental studies dispute the position that commonsense morality accepts ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’, the view that, necessarily, if an agent ought to perform some action, then she can perform that action. This paper considers and supports explanations for the results of these studies on the hypothesis that OIC is intuitive and true.
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  28. Précis zu Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account.David Löwenstein - 2018 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 72 (1):95-99.
    This is a précis of my book "Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account".
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  29. Regresse und Routinen. Repliken auf Brandt und Jung.David Löwenstein - 2018 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 72 (1):110-113.
    This paper responds to comments and criticisms by Stefan Brandt and Eva-Maria Jung, directed at the book "Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account".
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  30. Thrasymachus’ Unerring Skill and the Arguments of Republic 1.Tamer Nawar - 2018 - Phronesis 63 (4):359-391.
    In defending the view that justice is the advantage of the stronger, Thrasymachus puzzlingly claims that rulers never err and that any practitioner of a skill or expertise (τέχνη) is infallible. In what follows, Socrates offers a number of arguments directed against Thrasymachus’ views concerning the nature of skill, ruling, and justice. Commentators typically take a dim view of both Thrasymachus’ claims about skill (which are dismissed as an ungrounded and purely ad hoc response to Socrates’ initial criticisms) and Socrates’ (...)
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  31. What ability can do.Ben Schwan - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (3):703-723.
    One natural way to argue for the existence of some subjective constraint on agents’ obligations is to maintain that without that particular constraint, agents will sometimes be obligated to do that which they lack the ability to do. In this paper, I maintain that while such a strategy appears promising, it is fraught with pitfalls. Specifically, I argue that because the truth of an ability ascription depends on an (almost always implicit) characterization of the relevant possibility space, different metaethical accounts (...)
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  32. Is Semicompatibilism Unstable?Taylor W. Cyr - 2017 - Disputatio 9 (45):245-264.
    Recently, John Maier has developed a unified account of various agentive modalities. According to him, however, adopting the account provides an alternative framework for thinking about free will and moral responsibility, one that reveals an unacceptable instability in semicompatibilism. In this paper, I argue that Maier is mistaken about the implications of his account and sketch a semicompatibilist proposal that can, without countenancing any instability, accept Maier’s unified account of the agentive modalities.
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  33. Semicompatibilism: no ability to do otherwise required.Taylor W. Cyr - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (3):308-321.
    In this paper, I argue that it is open to semicompatibilists to maintain that no ability to do otherwise is required for moral responsibility. This is significant for two reasons. First, it undermines Christopher Evan Franklin’s recent claim that everyone thinks that an ability to do otherwise is necessary for free will and moral responsibility. Second, it reveals an important difference between John Martin Fischer’s semicompatibilism and Kadri Vihvelin’s version of classical compatibilism, which shows that the dispute between them is (...)
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  34. Descartes and the Possibility of Enlightened Freedom.Daniel Fogal - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (4):499-534.
    This paper offers a novel interpretation of Descartes's conception of freedom that resolves an important tension at the heart of his view. It does so by appealing to the important but overlooked distinction between possessing a power, exercising a power, and being in a position to exercise a power.
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  35. Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account.David Löwenstein - 2017 - Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann.
    What does it mean to know how to do something? This book develops a comprehensive account of know-how, a crucial epistemic goal for all who care about getting things right, not only with respect to the facts, but also with respect to practice. It proposes a novel interpretation of the seminal work of Gilbert Ryle, according to which know-how is a competence, a complex ability to do well in an activity in virtue of guidance by an understanding of what it (...)
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  36. Dispositional accounts of abilities.Barbara Vetter & Romy Jaster - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (8):e12432.
    This paper explores the prospects for dispositional accounts of abilities. According to so-called new dispositionalists, an agent has the ability to Φ iff they have a disposition to Φ when trying to Φ. We show that the new dispositionalism is beset by some problems that also beset its predecessor, the conditional analysis of abilities, and bring up some further problems. We then turn to a different approach, which links abilities not to motivational states but to the notion of success, and (...)
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  37. Ability and Volitional Incapacity.Nicholas Southwood & Pablo Gilabert - 2016 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 10 (3):1-8.
    The conditional analysis of ability faces familiar counterexamples involving cases of volitional incapacity. An interesting response to the problem of volitional incapacity is to try to explain away the responses elicited by such counterexamples by distinguishing between what we are able to do and what we are able to bring ourselves to do. We argue that this error-theoretic response fails. Either it succeeds in solving the problem of volitional incapacity at the cost of making the conditional analysis vulnerable to obvious (...)
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  38. Free will and the ability to do otherwise.Simon Kittle - 2015 - Dissertation, University of Sheffield
    This thesis is an investigation into the nature of those abilities that are relevant to free will when the latter is understood as requiring the ability to do otherwise. I assume from the outset the traditional and intuitive picture that being able to do otherwise bestows a significant kind of control on an agent and I ask what kinds of ability are implicated in such control. In chapter 1 I assess the simple conditional analysis of the sense of ‘can’ relevant (...)
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  39. Abilities to do otherwise.Simon Kittle - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (11):3017-3035.
    In this paper I argue that there are different ways that an agent may be able to do otherwise and that therefore, when free will is understood as requiring that an agent be able to do otherwise, we face the following question: which way of being able to do otherwise is most relevant to free will? I answer this question by first discussing the nature of intrinsic dispositions and abilities, arguing that for each action type there is a spectrum of (...)
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  40. Spatial Content and Motoric Significance.Robert Briscoe - 2014 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 1 (2):199-216.
    According to “actionism” (Noë 2010), perception constitutively depends on implicit knowledge of the way sensory stimulations vary as a consequence of the perceiver’s self-movement. My aim in this contribution is to develop an alternative conception of the role of action in perception present in the work of Gareth Evans using resources provided by Ruth Millikan’s biosemantic theory of mental representation.
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  41. Legal Agreements and the Capacities of Agents.Andrei Buckareff - 2014 - In Enrique Villanueva (ed.), Law and the Philosophy of Action. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. pp. 195-219.
    Most work at the intersection of law and the philosophy of action focuses on criminal responsibility. Unfortunately, this focus has been at the expense of reflecting on how the philosophy of action might help illuminate our understanding of issues in civil law. In this essay, focusing on Anglo-American jurisprudence, we examine the conditions under which a party to a legal agreement is deemed to have the capacity required to be bound by that agreement. We refer to this condition as the (...)
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  42. It's Not Too Difficult: A Plea to Resurrect the Impossibility Defense.Ken Levy - 2014 - New Mexico Law Revview 45:225-274.
    Suppose you are at the gym trying to see some naked beauties by peeping through a hole in the wall. A policeman happens by, he asks you what you are doing, and you honestly tell him. He then arrests you for voyeurism. Are you guilty? We don’t know yet because there is one more fact to be considered: while you honestly thought that a locker room was on the other side of the wall, it was actually a squash court. Are (...)
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  43. Free Will, Determinism, and the Possibility of Doing Otherwise.Christian List - 2014 - Noûs 48 (1):156-178.
    I argue that free will and determinism are compatible, even when we take free will to require the ability to do otherwise and even when we interpret that ability modally, as the possibility of doing otherwise, and not just conditionally or dispositionally. My argument draws on a distinction between physical and agential possibility. Although in a deterministic world only one future sequence of events is physically possible for each state of the world, the more coarsely defined state of an agent (...)
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  44. What time travelers may be able to do.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (1):115 - 121.
    Kadri Vihvelin, in "What time travelers cannot do" (Philos Stud 81: 315-330, 1996), argued that "no time traveler can kill the baby who in fact is her younger self, because (V1) "if someone would fail to do something, no matter how hard or how many times she tried, then she cannot do it", and (V2) if a time traveler tried to kill her baby self, she would always fail. Theodore Sider (Philos Stud 110: 115-138, 2002) criticized Vihvelin's argument, and Ira (...)
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  45. Carl Ginet, On Action. [REVIEW]Karl Pfeifer - 1992 - Philosophy in Review 12:196-199.
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  46. A Frankurt-Friendly Account of Action.Logan Carter - manuscript
    This is an extension of my earlier work, The Coast is Not Clear. This paper offers an alternative view in the discussion of passive action between Harry Frankfurt (1978) and Alfred Mele (1997). First, I will describe Frankfurt’s noncausal account of action. Second, I will present counterexamples on behalf of Mele’s causal account. Then, I will introduce the Frankfurt-friendly View (FFV) which captures Frankfurt’s judgments about action while rejecting Frankfurt-style cases. I will explore what constitutes and explains actions in each (...)
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  47. On Schellenberg’s The Unity of Perception[REVIEW]Ayoob Shahmoradi - manuscript
    My general worry is that Schellenberg’s arguments against naive realism, generalism, and Russellian representationalism do not seem to be successful. Thus her attempt at ruling these views out fails. Her main arguments rely on a shared premise whose plausibility, in the absence of an appropriate theory of particulars, is hard to assess (§2.1). Apart from that, these arguments rely on an under-specified notion of constitution; there seems to be no sense of the term that makes all the premises of her (...)
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