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Kinds of Reasons: An Essay in the Philosophy of Action

Oxford University Press (2010)

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  1. Wouldn't It Be Nice: Enticing Reasons for Love.N. L. Engel-Hawbecker - forthcoming - In Simon Cushing (ed.), New Philosophical Essays on Love and Loving. Palgrave Macmillan.
    A central debate in the philosophy of love is whether people can love one another for good reasons. Reasons for love seem to help us sympathetically understand and evaluate love or even to count as loving at all. But it can seem that if reasons for love existed, they could require forms of love (like rampant infidelity) presumably illicit. It might seem that only some form of wishful thinking would lead us to believe reasons for love could never do this. (...)
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  • How and Why Knowledge is First.Clayton Littlejohn - 2017 - In A. Carter, E. Gordon & B. Jarvis (eds.), Knowledge First. Oxford University Press. pp. 19-45.
    A defense of the idea that knowledge is first in the sense that there is nothing prior to knowledge that puts reasons or evidence in your possession. Includes a critical discussion of the idea that perception or perceptual experience might provide reasons and a defense of a knowledge-first approach to justified belief.
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  • Perspectivism and the Argument From Guidance.Jonathan Way & Daniel Whiting - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (2):361-374.
    Perspectivists hold that what you ought to do is determined by your perspective, that is, your epistemic position. Objectivists hold that what you ought to do is determined by the facts irrespective of your perspective. This paper explores an influential argument for perspectivism which appeals to the thought that the normative is action guiding. The crucial premise of the argument is that you ought to φ only if you are able to φ for the reasons which determine that you ought (...)
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  • The Double Intentionality of Moral Intentional Actions: Scotus and Ockham on Interior and Exterior Acts.Sonja Schierbaum - forthcoming - Topoi:1-11.
    Any account of intentional action has to deal with the problem of how such actions are individuated. Medieval accounts, however, crucially differ from contemporary ones in at least three respects: for medieval authors, individuation is not a matter of description, as it is according to contemporary, ‘Anscombian’ views; rather, it is a metaphysical matter. Medieval authors discuss intentional action on the basis of faculty psychology, whereas contemporary accounts are not committed to this kind of psychology. Connected to the use of (...)
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  • The Motivating Role of Truth in Reasoning: A Defence of Object-Dependent Fregean Senses.Johan Gersel - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    Intuitively, when all goes well, we adopt beliefs based on inference because we realize that their truth is established by the truth of the involved premises. If this intuitive picture of our successful reasoning is correct, then it must be possible that our reasoning is motivated by our sensitivity to the soundness of the involved inference. This paper argues that such a view of ideal reasoning can only be upheld if we accept the minority view that the proper inferential role (...)
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  • Pritchard’s Reasons in Advance.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Research.
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  • Are Epistemic Reasons Perspective-Dependent?Davide Fassio - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (12):3253-3283.
    This paper focuses on the relation between epistemic reasons and the subject’s epistemic perspective. It tackles the questions of whether epistemic reasons are dependent on the perspective of the subject they are reasons for, and if so, whether they are dependent on the actual or the potential perspective. It is argued that epistemic reasons are either independent or minimally dependent on the subject’s epistemic perspective. In particular, I provide three arguments supporting the conclusion that epistemic reasons are not dependent on (...)
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  • On the generality argument for the knowledge norm.Davide Fassio - 2018 - Synthese:1-22.
    An increasingly popular view in contemporary epistemology holds that the most fundamental norm governing belief is knowledge. According to this norm one shouldn’t believe what one doesn’t know. A prominent argument for the knowledge norm appeals to the claim that knowledge is the most general condition of epistemic assessment of belief, one entailing all other conditions under which we epistemically assess beliefs. This norm would provide an easy and straightforward explanation of why we assess beliefs along all these various epistemic (...)
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  • Free Choice Reasons.Daniel Bonevac - 2019 - Synthese 196 (2):735-760.
    I extend theories of nonmonotonic reasoning to account for reasons allowing free choice. My approach works with a wide variety of approaches to nonmonotonic reasoning and explains the connection between reasons for kinds of action and reasons for actions or subkinds falling under them. I use an Anderson–Kanger reduction of reason statements, identifying key principles in the logic of reasons.
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  • Habit and Intention.Christos Douskos - 2017 - Philosophia 45 (3):1129-1148.
    Several authors have argued that the things one does in the course of skilled and habitual activity present a difficult case for the ‘standard story’ of action. They are things intentionally done, but they do not seem to be suitably related to mental states. I suggest that once manifestations of habit are properly distinguished from exercises of skills and other kinds of spontaneous acts, we can see that habit raises a distinctive sort of problem. I examine certain responses that have (...)
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  • Truth: The Aim and Norm of Belief.Daniel Whiting - 2013 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 32 (3):121-136.
    Invited contribution to The Aim of Belief, a special issue of Teorema, guest-edited by J. Zalabardo.
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  • Is There an Epistemic Norm of Practical Reasoning?Davide Fassio - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (9):2137-2166.
    A recent view in contemporary epistemology holds that practical reasoning is governed by an epistemic norm. Evidence for the existence of this norm is provided by the ways in which we assess our actions and reasoning on the basis of whether certain epistemic conditions are satisfied. Philosophers disagree on what this norm is—whether it is knowledge, justified belief or something else. Nobody however challenges the claim that practical reasoning is governed by such a norm. I argue that assuming the existence (...)
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  • Normative Reasons Qua Facts and the Agent-Neutral/Relative Dichotomy: A Response to Rønnow-Rasmussen.Jamie Buckland - 2017 - Philosophia 45 (1):207-225.
    This paper offers a defence of the distinction between agent-neutral and agent-relative reasons for action from scepticism aired by Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen. In response it is argued that the Nagelian notion of an agent-neutral reason is not incomprehensible, and that agent-neutral reasons can indeed be understood as obtaining states of affairs that count in favour of anyone and everyone performing the action they favour. Furthermore, I argue that a distinction drawn between agent-neutral and agent-relative reason-statements that express the salient features of (...)
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  • Explaining Ideology: Mechanisms and Metaphysics.Matteo Bianchin - 2020 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 50 (4):313-337.
    Ideology is commonly defined along functional, epistemic, and genetic dimensions. This article advances a reasonably unified account that specifies how they connect and locates the mechanisms at work. I frame the account along a recent distinction between anchoring and grounding, endorse an etiological reading of functional explanations, and draw on current work about the epistemology of delusion, looping effects, and structuring causes to explain how ideologies originate, reproduce, and possibly collapse. This eventually allows articulating how the legitimating function of ideologies (...)
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  • What is a Reason to Act?Kieran Setiya - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (2):221-235.
    Argues for a conception of reasons as premises of practical reasoning. This conception is applied to questions about ignorance, advice, enabling conditions, "ought," and evidence.
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  • Normative Explanation and Justification.Pekka Väyrynen - 2021 - Noûs 55 (1):3-22.
    Normative explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary practice and normative theory. This paper argues that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: a correct complete explanation of why a normative fact holds must identify features that would go at least some way towards justifying certain actions or attitudes. I first explain and motivate the condition I propose. I then support it by arguing that it fits well with various theories of normative reasons, (...)
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  • Animal Minds: A Non-Representationalist Approach.Hans-Johann Glock - 2013 - American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (3):213-232.
    Do animals have minds? We have known at least since Aristotle that humans constitute one species of animal. And some benighted contemporaries apart, we also know that most humans have minds. To have any bite, therefore, the question must be restricted to non-human animals, to which I shall henceforth refer simply as "animals." I shall further assume that animals are bereft of linguistic faculties. So, do some animals have minds comparable to those of humans? As regards that question, there are (...)
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  • Epistemic Instrumentalism and the Too Few Reasons Objection.Charles Côté-Bouchard - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 23 (3):337-355.
    According to epistemic instrumentalism, epistemic normativity arises from and depends on facts about our ends. On that view, a consideration C is an epistemic reason for a subject S to Φ only if Φ-ing would promote an end that S has. However, according to the Too Few Epistemic Reasons objection, this cannot be correct since there are cases in which, intuitively, C is an epistemic reason for S to Φ even though Φ-ing would not promote any of S’s ends. After (...)
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  • The Space of Motivations.Donnchadh O’Conaill - 2014 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (3):440-455.
    The distinction between the space of reasons and the realm of law captures two familiar ways of making events intelligible, by reference to reasons or to natural laws, respectively. I describe a third way of making events intelligible, by explaining them in terms of an agent’s being motivated to do certain things. Explanations of this sort do not involve appealing to reasons for which the agent acts, nor to natural laws under which the event falls. To explain an event in (...)
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  • Is It OK to Make Mistakes? Appraisal and False Normative Belief.Claire Field - 2019 - Dissertation, University of St Andrews
    Sometimes we make mistakes, even when we try to do our best. When those mistakes are about normative matters, such as what is required, this leads to a puzzle. This puzzle arises from the possibility of misleading evidence about what rationality requires. I argue that the best way to solve this puzzle is to distinguish between two kinds of evaluation: requirement and appraisal. The strategy I defend connects three distinct debates in epistemology, ethics, and normativity: the debate over how our (...)
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  • Action, Deviance, and Guidance.Ezio Di Nucci - 2013 - Abstracta (2):41-59.
    I argue that we should give up the fight to rescue causal theories of action from fundamental challenges such as the problem of deviant causal chains; and that we should rather pursue an account of action based on the basic intuition that control identifies agency. In Section 1 I introduce causalism about action explanation. In Section 2 I present an alternative, Frankfurt’s idea of guidance. In Section 3 I argue that the problem of deviant causal chains challenges causalism in two (...)
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  • Inference and Action: Relating Beliefs to the World.Javier Gonzalez De Prado Salas - unknown
    The goal of this dissertation is to offer a practice-based account of intentionality. My aim is to examine what sort of practices agents have to engage in so as to count as talking and thinking about the way the world is – that is, what sort of practices count as representational. Representational practices answer to the way the world is: what is correct within such practices depends on the way things are, rather than on the attitudes of agents. An account (...)
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  • Normativism and Doxastic Deliberation.Conor McHugh - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (4):447-465.
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  • Does Belief (Only) Aim at the Truth?Daniel Whiting - 2012 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (2):279-300.
    It is common to hear talk of the aim of belief and to find philosophers appealing to that aim for numerous explanatory purposes. What belief 's aim explains depends, of course, on what that aim is. Many hold that it is somehow related to truth, but there are various ways in which one might specify belief 's aim using the notion of truth. In this article, by considering whether they can account for belief 's standard of correctness and the epistemic (...)
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  • Group Action Without Group Minds.Kenneth Silver - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Groups behave in a variety of ways. To show that this behavior amounts to action, it would be best to fit it into a general account of action. However, nearly every account from the philosophy of action requires the agent to have mental states such as beliefs, desires, and intentions. Unfortunately, theorists are divided over whether groups can instantiate these states—typically depending on whether or not they are willing to accept functionalism about the mind. But we can avoid this debate. (...)
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  • The Causal Autonomy of Reason Explanations and How Not to Worry About Causal Deviance.Karsten R. Stueber - 2013 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 43 (1):24-45.
    This essay will defend a causal conception of action explanations in terms of an agent’s reasons by delineating a metaphysical and epistemic framework that allows us to view folk psychology as providing us with causal and autonomous explanatory strategies of accounting for individual agency. At the same time, I will calm philosophical concerns about the issue of causal deviance that have been at the center of the recent debates between causalist and noncausalist interpretations of action explanations. For that purpose, it (...)
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  • Basic Knowledge and the Normativity of Knowledge: The Awareness‐First Solution.Paul Silva - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Many have found it plausible that knowledge is a constitutively normative state, i.e. a state that is grounded in the possession of reasons. Many have also found it plausible that certain cases of proprioceptive knowledge, memorial knowledge, and self-evident knowledge are cases of knowledge that are not grounded in the possession of reasons. I refer to these as cases of basic knowledge. The existence of basic knowledge forms a primary objection to the idea that knowledge is a constitutively normative state. (...)
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  • A Plea for Epistemic Excuses.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - In Fabian Dorsch Julien Dutant (ed.), The New Evil Demon Problem. Oxford University Press.
    The typical epistemology course begins with a discussion of the distinction between justification and knowledge and ends without any discussion of the distinction between justification and excuse. This is unfortunate. If we had a better understanding of the justification-excuse distinction, we would have a better understanding of the intuitions that shape the internalism-externalism debate. My aims in this paper are these. First, I will explain how the kinds of excuses that should interest epistemologists exculpate. Second, I will explain why the (...)
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  • Perception as a Propositional Attitude.Daniel Kalpokas - forthcoming - Theoria. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science.
    It is widely held that the content of perceptual experience is propositional in nature. However, in a well-known article, “Is Perception a Propositional Attitude?”, Crane has argued against this thesis. He therein assumes that experience has intentional content and indirectly argues that experience has non-propositional content by showing that from what he considers to be the main reasons in favour of “the propositional-attitude thesis”, it does not really follow that experience has propositional content. In this paper I shall discuss Crane’s (...)
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  • Is Believing for a Normative Reason a Composite Condition?J. Cunningham - 2019 - Synthese 196 (9):3889-3910.
    Here is a surprisingly neglected question in contemporary epistemology: what is it for an agent to believe that p in response to a normative reason for them to believe that p? On one style of answer, believing for the normative reason that q factors into believing that p in the light of the apparent reason that q, where one can be in that kind of state even if q is false, in conjunction with further independent conditions such as q’s being (...)
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  • XIV—What Are Sources of Motivation?Giles Pearson - 2015 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 115 (3pt3):255-276.
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Volume 115, Issue 3pt3, Page 255-276, December 2015.
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  • Motivierende Gründe: Aktuelle Probleme und Kontroversen.Jean Moritz Müller - 2019 - Information Philosophie 2019 (4):16-28.
    Dieser Forschungsbericht gibt einen Überblick über die aktuelle Debatte über motivierende Gründe in der Handlungs- und Erkenntnistheorie. Folgende drei Fragen werden schwerpunktmäßig behandelt: a) Was für eine Art von Entität sind motivierende Gründe? b) Welche Beziehung besteht zwischen einer Handlung oder Einstellung und ihren motivierenden Gründen? c) Welche kognitiven Bedingungen gelten für die Zuschreibung motivierender Gründe?
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  • Worldly Reasons: An Ontological Inquiry Into Motivating Considerations and Normative Reasons.Susanne Mantel - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
    In this article I advocate a worldly account of normative reasons according to which there is an ontological gap between these and the premises of practical thought, i.e. motivating considerations. While motivating considerations are individuated fine-grainedly, normative reasons should be classified as coarse-grained entities, e.g. as states of affairs, in order to explain certain necessary truths about them and to make sense of how we count and weigh them. As I briefly sketch, acting for normative reasons is nonetheless possible if (...)
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  • Being More Realistic About Reasons: On Rationality and Reasons Perspectivism.Clayton Littlejohn - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):605-627.
    This paper looks at whether it is possible to unify the requirements of rationality with the demands of normative reasons. It might seem impossible to do because one depends upon the agent’s perspective and the other upon features of the situation. Enter Reasons Perspectivism. Reasons perspectivists think they can show that rationality does consist in responding correctly to reasons by placing epistemic constraints on these reasons. They think that if normative reasons are subject to the right epistemic constraints, rational requirements (...)
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  • Can Reasons Be Propositions? Against Dancy's Attack on Propositionalism.Attila Tanyi & Morganti Matteo - 2017 - Theoria 83 (3):185-205.
    The topic of this article is the ontology of practical reasons. We draw a critical comparison between two views. According to the first, practical reasons are states of affairs; according to the second, they are propositions. We first isolate and spell out in detail certain objections to the second view that can be found only in embryonic form in the literature – in particular, in the work of Jonathan Dancy. Next, we sketch possible ways in which one might respond to (...)
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  • Acting and Believing Under the Guise of Normative Reasons.Keshav Singh - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (2):409-430.
    In this paper, I defend an account of the reasons for which we act, believe, and so on for any Ф such that there can be reasons for which we Ф. Such reasons are standardly called motivating reasons. I argue that three dominant views of motivating reasons all fail to capture the ordinary concept of a motivating reason. I show this by drawing out three constraints on what motivating reasons must be, and demonstrating how each view fails to satisfy at (...)
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  • Stop Making Sense? On a Puzzle About Rationality.Littlejohn Clayton - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:257-272.
    In this paper, I present a puzzle about epistemic rationality. It seems plausible that it should be rational to believe a proposition if you have sufficient evidential support for it. It seems plausible that it rationality requires you to conform to the categorical requirements of rationality. It also seems plausible that our first-order attitudes ought to mesh with our higher-order attitudes. It seems unfortunate that we cannot accept all three claims about rationality. I will present three ways of trying to (...)
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  • Acting on a Ground : Reasons, Rational Motivation, and Explanation.Magnus Frei - 2016 - Dissertation, Fribourg
    When someone does something for a reason, what are the reasons for which she does what she does? What is her ‘motivating reason’, as it is sometimes put? The simple answer is: it depends on what is meant by ‘motivating reason’. Non-Psychologists hold that motivating reasons are what the agent believes. I have shown that given that we understand ‘motivating reasons’ as what I term 'grounds', this is quite correct, as what we believe is what plays the role of a (...)
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  • Do Reasons and Evidence Share the Same Residence.Clayton Littlejohn - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3):720-727.
    This is part of an authors meets critics session on Daniel Star's wonderful book, Knowing Better. I discuss a potential problem with Kearns and Star's Reasons as Evidence thesis. The issue has to do with the difficulties we face is we treat normative reasons as evidence and impose no possession conditions on evidence. On such a view, it's hard to see how practical reasoning could be a non-monotonic process. One way out of the difficulty would be to allow for (potent) (...)
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  • Addiction, Compulsion, and Agency.Ezio Di Nucci - 2014 - Neuroethics 7 (1):105-107.
    I show that Pickard’s argument against the irresistibility of addiction fails because her proposed dilemma, according to which either drug-seeking does not count as action or addiction is resistible, is flawed; and that is the case whether or not one endorses Pickard’s controversial definition of action. Briefly, we can easily imagine cases in which drug-seeking meets Pickard’s conditions for agency without thereby implying that the addiction was not irresistible, as when the drug addict may take more than one route to (...)
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  • Epistemology without guidance.Nick Hughes - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (1):163-196.
    Epistemologists often appeal to the idea that a normative theory must provide useful, usable, guidance to argue for one normative epistemology over another. I argue that this is a mistake. Guidance considerations have no role to play in theory choice in epistemology. I show how this has implications for debates about the possibility and scope of epistemic dilemmas, the legitimacy of idealisation in Bayesian epistemology, uniqueness versus permissivism, sharp versus mushy credences, and internalism versus externalism.
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  • Evidence and its Limits.Clayton Littlejohn - 2018 - In Conor McHugh Jonathan Way & Daniel Whiting (eds.), Normativity: Epistemic and Practical. Oxford University Press.
    On a standard view about reasons, evidence, and justification, there is justification for you to believe all and only what your evidence supports and the reasons that determine whether there is justification to believe are all just pieces of evidence. This view is mistaken about two things. It is mistaken about the rational role of evidence. It is also mistaken about the rational role of reasons. To show this, I present two basis problems for the standard view and argue that (...)
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  • Who Cares What You Accurately Believe?Clayton Littlejohn - 2015 - Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1):217-248.
    This is a critical discussion of the accuracy-first approach to epistemic norms. If you think of accuracy (gradational or categorical) as the fundamental epistemic good and think of epistemic goods as things that call for promotion, you might think that we should use broadly consequentialist reasoning to determine which norms govern partial and full belief. After presenting consequentialist arguments for probabilism and the normative Lockean view, I shall argue that the consequentialist framework isn't nearly as promising as it might first (...)
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  • La Verdad en el Gnosticismo.Clayton Littlejohn - 2016 - Análisis. Revista de Investigación Filosófica 3:217-241.
    Hay dos supuestos sobre el valor epistémico que guían las discusiones más recientes sobre éste. El primero es que hay algo bueno con respecto a la creencia verdadera. El segundo supuesto es que es posible que dos creencias difieran en su valor incluso si ambas creencias son igualmente correctas. El veritista tiene fácil explicar el primer supuesto, pero tiene más difícil explicar el segundo. Para explicarlo, el veritista tiene que mostrar que las creencias verdaderas pueden diferir en su valor porque (...)
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  • Exercising Doxastic Freedom.Conor Mchugh - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (1):1-37.
    This paper defends the possibility of doxastic freedom, arguing that doxastic freedom should be modelled not on freedom of action but on freedom of intention. Freedom of action is exercised by agents like us, I argue, through voluntary control. This involves two conditions, intentions-reactivity and reasons-reactivity, that are not met in the case of doxastic states. Freedom of intention is central to our agency and to our moral responsibility, but is not exercised through voluntary control. I develop and defend an (...)
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  • Early Sartre on Freedom and Ethics.Peter Poellner - 2015 - European Journal of Philosophy 23 (2):221-247.
    This paper offers a revisionary interpretation of Sartre's early views on human freedom. Sartre articulates a subtle account of a fundamental sense of human freedom as autonomy, in terms of human consciousness being both reasons-responsive and in a distinctive sense self-determining. The aspects of Sartre's theory of human freedom that underpin his early ethics are shown to be based on his phenomenological analysis of consciousness as, in its fundamental mode of self-presence, not an object in the world. Sartre has a (...)
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  • Reasons and Practical Possibility.Simon Robertson - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (9-10):1104-1135.
    According to a common thesis about normative reasons for action, you have a reason to perform a given action only if you can act for that reason. This thesis has long had broad appeal and i...
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  • Reasons Why in Normative Explanation.Pekka Väyrynen - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (6):607-623.
    Normative explanations, which specify why things have the normative features they do, are ubiquitous in normative theory and ordinary thought. But there is much less work on normative explanation than on scientific or metaphysical explanation. Skow (2016) argues that a complete answer to the question why some fact Q occurs consists in all of the reasons why Q occurs. This paper explores this theory as a case study of a general theory that promises to offer us a grip on normative (...)
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  • Propositionalism About Intention: Shifting the Burden of Proof.Lucy Campbell - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (2):230-252.
    ABSTRACTA widespread view in the philosophy of mind and action holds that intentions are propositional attitudes. Call this view ‘Propositionalism about Intention’. The key alternative holds that intentions have acts, or do-ables, as their contents. Propositionalism is typically accepted by default, rather than argued for in any detail. By appealing to a key metaphysical constraint on any account of intention, I argue that on the contrary, it is the Do-ables View which deserves the status of the default position, and Propositionalism (...)
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  • Action Explanation and its Presuppositions.Lilian O’Brien - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (1):123-146.
    In debates about rationalizing action explanation causalists assume that the psychological states that explain an intentional action have both causal and rational features. I scrutinize the presuppositions of those who seek and offer rationalizing action explanations. This scrutiny shows, I argue, that where rational features play an explanatory role in these contexts, causal features play only a presuppositional role. But causal features would have to play an explanatory role if rationalizing action explanation were a species of causal explanation. Consequently, we (...)
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