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Why be rational

Mind 114 (455):509-563 (2005)

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  1. How to Understand the Knowledge Norm of Assertion: Reply to Schlöder.Jonny McIntosh - 2020 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 9 (3):207-214.
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  • The explanatory role of consistency requirements.Marc-Kevin Daoust - 2020 - Synthese 197 (10):4551-4569.
    Is epistemic inconsistency a mere symptom of having violated other requirements of rationality—notably, reasons-responsiveness requirements? Or is inconsistency irrational on its own? This question has important implications for the debate on the normativity of epistemic rationality. In this paper, I defend a new account of the explanatory role of the requirement of epistemic consistency. Roughly, I will argue that, in cases where an epistemically rational agent is permitted to believe P and also permitted to disbelieve P, the consistency requirement plays (...)
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  • Unity of Reasons.Adam Cureton - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (4):877-895.
    There are at least two basic normative notions: rationality and reasons. The dominant normative account of reasons nowadays, which I call primitive pluralism about reasons, holds that some reasons are normatively basic and there is no underlying normative explanation of them in terms of other normative notions. Kantian constructivism about reasons, understood as a normative rather than a metaethical view, holds that rationality is the primitive normative notion that picks out which non-normative facts are reasons for what and explains why (...)
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  • Veritism and the Normativity of Logic.Nader Shoaibi - forthcoming - Ratio.
    The idea that logic is in some sense normative for thought and reasoning is a familiar one. Some of the most prominent figures in the history of philosophy including Kant and Frege have been among its defenders. The most natural way of spelling out this idea is to formulate wide-scope deductive requirements on belief which rule out certain states as irrational. But what can account for the truth of such deductive requirements of rationality? By far, the most prominent responses draw (...)
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  • It's OK to Make Mistakes: Against the Fixed Point Thesis.Claire Field - 2017 - Episteme:1-11.
    Can we make mistakes about what rationality requires? A natural answer is that we can, since it is a platitude that rational belief does not require truth; it is possible for a belief to be rational and mistaken, and this holds for any subject matter at all. However, the platitude causes trouble when applied to rationality itself. The possibility of rational mistakes about what rationality requires generates a puzzle. When combined with two further plausible claims – the enkratic principle, and (...)
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  • Anti-Exceptionalism About Requirements of Epistemic Rationality.Claire Field - forthcoming - Acta Analytica.
    I argue for the unexceptionality of evidence about what rationality requires. Specifically, I argue that, as for other topics, one’s total evidence can sometimes support false beliefs about this. Despite being prima facie innocuous, a number of philosophers have recently denied this. Some have argued that the facts about what rationality requires are highly dependent on the agent’s situation, and change depending on what that situation is like (Bradley, 2019). Others have argued that a particular subset of normative truths, those (...)
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  • Expressivism and Explaining Irrationality: Reply to Baker.Sebastian Hengst - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    In a recent paper in this journal, Derek Baker :829–852, 2018) raises an objection to expressivism as it has been developed by Mark Schroeder. Baker argues that Schroeder’s expressivist is committed to certain sentences expressing rationally incoherent states of mind, and he objects that the expressivist cannot explain why these states would be rationally incoherent. The aim of this paper is to show that Baker’s argument for is unsound, and that is unlikely to be true. This obviates the need to (...)
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  • Legal Obligation and Reasons.Christopher Essert - 2013 - Legal Theory 19 (1):63-88.
    Legal rationalist: law claims to give its subjects reasons for action. Normative reasons intuition: Reasons for action being key, the obvious way to establish that law makes a practical difference in people's deliberations is by arguing that the law claims to give reasons for action to its subjects. Explanatory Reasons Intuition: "And while it is possible to be confused about our normative reasons, it seems unlikely that everyone is confused all the time; so the fact that people consistently take the (...)
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  • Inferential and Non-Inferential Reasoning.Bart Streumer - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):1-29.
    It is sometimes suggested that there are two kinds of reasoning: inferential reasoning and non-inferential reasoning. However, it is not entirely clear what the difference between these two kinds of reasoning is. In this paper, I try to answer the question what this difference is. I first discuss three answers to this question that I argue are unsatisfactory. I then give a different answer to this question, and I argue that this answer is satisfactory. I end by showing that this (...)
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  • The Instrumental Rule.Jeremy David Fix - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-19.
    Properly understood, the instrumental rule says to take means which actually suffice for my end, not, as is nearly universally assumed, to intend means which I believe are necessary for my end. This alternative explains everything the standard interpretation can and more into the bargain, including grounding certain correctness conditions for exercises of our will unexplained by the standard interpretation.
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  • Instrumental Normativity: In Defense of the Transmission Principle.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2015 - Ethics 125 (4):921-946.
    If you ought to perform a certain act, and some other action is a necessary means for you to perform that act, then you ought to perform that other action as well – or so it seems plausible to say. This transmission principle is of both practical and theoretical significance. The aim of this paper is to defend this principle against a number of recent objections, which (as I show) are all based on core assumptions of the view called actualism. (...)
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  • The Normativity of Rationality.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Kiesewetter defends the normativity of rationality by presenting a new solution to the problems that arise from the common assumption that we ought to be rational. He provides a defence of a reason-response conception of rationality, an evidence-relative account of reason, and an explanation of structural irrationality in relation to these accounts.
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  • You Ought to Φ Only If You May Believe That You Ought to Φ.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (265):760-82.
    In this paper I present an argument for the claim that you ought to do something only if you may believe that you ought to do it. More exactly, I defend the following principle about normative reasons: An agent A has decisive reason to φ only if she also has sufficient reason to believe that she has decisive reason to φ. I argue that this principle follows from the plausible assumption that it must be possible for an agent to respond (...)
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  • Reasons as Explanations.John Brunero - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (3):805-824.
    Can a normative reason be understood as a kind of explanation? I here consider and argue against two important analyses of reasons as explanations. John Broome argues that we can analyze reasons in terms of the concepts of explanation and ought. On his view, reasons to ϕ are either facts that explain why one ought to ϕ (what he calls “perfect reasons”) or facts that play a for-ϕ role in weighing explanations (what he calls “pro tanto reasons”). I argue against (...)
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  • "Ought" and the Perspective of the Agent.Benjamin Kiesewitter - 2011 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 5 (3):1-24.
    Objectivists and perspectivists disagree about the question of whether what an agent ought to do depends on the totality of facts or on the agent’s limited epistemic perspective. While objectivism fails to account for normative guidance, perspectivism faces the challenge of explaining phenomena (occurring most notably in advice, but also in first-personal deliberation) in which the use of “ought” is geared to evidence that is better than the evidence currently available to the agent. This paper aims to defend perspectivism by (...)
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  • What Can Socratic Philosophy Achieve? Plato’s Conception of Care in the Light of Christine Korsgaard’s Self-Constitution.Morten Sørensen Thaning & Johan Gersel - 2020 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 81 (3):227-245.
    Can rational arguments convince a person to change from a commitment to living an unvirtuous life into striving after virtue? Or can rationality, even in the best cases, only help preserve an alrea...
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  • Two Roles for Reasons: Cause for Divorce?Wooram Lee - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    An increasingly popular view in the literature on rationality attempts to vindicate the strong normativity of rationality by giving a unifying account of rational requirements and what one ought to do in terms of reasons that fall within one’s perspective. In this paper, I pose a dilemma for such a view: one’s rationality is determined by a narrower set of reasons, such as the set of reasons that one is attending to, whereas what one ought to do is determined by (...)
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  • Beyond Belief: Logic in Multiple Attitudes.Franz Dietrich, Antonios Staras & Robert Sugden - manuscript
    Choice-theoretic and philosophical accounts of rationality and reasoning address a multi-attitude psychology, including beliefs, desires, intentions, etc. By contrast, logicians traditionally focus on beliefs only. Yet there is 'logic' in multiple attitudes. We propose a generalization of the three standard logical requirements on beliefs -- consistency, completeness, and deductive closedness -- towards multiple attitudes. How do these three logical requirements relate to rational requirements, e.g., of transitive preferences or non-akratic intentions? We establish a systematic correspondence: each logical requirement (consistency, completeness, (...)
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  • Fittingness and Good Reasoning.John Brunero - 2019 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 16 (2).
    Conor McHugh and Jonathan Way have defended a view of good reasoning according to which good reasoning is explained in terms of the preservation of fittingness. I argue that their Fittingness View is incorrect. Not all fittingness-preserving transitions in thought are instances of good reasoning.
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  • Two Accounts of the Normativity of Rationality.Jonathan Way - 2009 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 4 (1):1-9.
    Recent views of reasons and rationality make it plausible that it can sometimes be rational to do what you have no reason to do. A number of writers have concluded that if this is so, rationality is not normative. But this is a mistake. Even if we assume a tight connection between reasons and normativity, the normativity of rationality does not require that there is always reason to be rational. The first half of this paper illustrates this point with reference (...)
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  • Requirements of intention in light of belief.Carlos Núñez - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (9):2471-2492.
    Much work in the philosophy of action in the last few decades has focused on the elucidation and justification of a series of purported norms of practical rationality that concern the presence or absence of intention in light of belief, and that demand a kind of structural coherence in the psychology of an agent. Examples of such norms include: Intention Detachment, which proscribes intending to do something in case some condition obtains, believing that such condition obtains, and not intending to (...)
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  • Savage's Response to Allais as Broomean Reasoning.Franz Dietrich, Antonios Staras & Robert Sugden - manuscript
    Leonard Savage famously contravened his own theory when first confronting the Allais Paradox, but then convinced himself that he had made an error. We examine the formal structure of Savage’s ‘error-correcting’ reasoning in the light of (i) behavioural economists’ claims to identify the latent preferences of individuals who violate conventional rationality requirements and (ii) John Broome’s critique of arguments which presuppose that rationality requirements can be achieved through reasoning. We argue that Savage’s reasoning is not vulnerable to Broome’s critique, but (...)
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  • Reasons, Inescapability and Persuasion.Neil Sinclair - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2823-2844.
    This paper outlines a new metasemantic theory of moral reason statements, focused on explaining how the reasons thus stated can be inescapable. The motivation for the theory is in part that it can explain this and other phenomena concerning moral reasons. The account also suggests a general recipe for explanations of conceptual features of moral reason statements. (Published with Open Access.).
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  • Enkratic Rationality Is Instrumental Rationality.Wooram Lee - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
    It is widely agreed that there is a rational requirement, “Enkrasia”, which requires that you intend what you believe you ought to do. This paper argues that Enkrasia is not an independent requirement of practical rationality: it is a special case of the requirement to be instrumentally rational. I argue for this view of Enkrasia through an analysis of an all‐things‐considered belief about what you ought to do. Believing, all‐thing‐considered, that you ought to φ implies being settled on a set (...)
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  • Perceptual Justification and the Cartesian Theater.David James Barnett - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Epistemology 6.
    According to a traditional Cartesian epistemology of perception, perception does not provide one with direct knowledge of the external world. Instead, your immediate perceptual evidence is limited to facts about your own visual experience, from which conclusions about the external world must be inferred. Cartesianism faces well-known skeptical challenges. But this chapter argues that any anti-Cartesian view strong enough to avoid these challenges must license a way of updating one’s beliefs in response to anticipated experiences that seems diachronically irrational. To (...)
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  • ¿Estamos racionalmente obligados a ser eficientes?Julen Ibarrondo Murguialday - 2018 - Análisis Filosófico 38 (2):157-181.
    Ser eficaz a la hora de tomar los medios pertinentes para nuestros fines se ha considerado como uno de los aspectos paradigmáticos de la racionalidad. Sin embargo, reconocer la normatividad de la racionalidad instrumental parece implicar la problemática tesis de que uno debe tomar los medios apropiados para sus fines por el mero hecho de tener estos fines, con independencia de cuán irracionales o inmorales sean. En estas páginas defiendo una concepción de la racionalidad instrumental que permite a un mismo (...)
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  • The Eclipse of Instrumental Rationality.Kurt Sylvan - forthcoming - In The Routledge Handbook of Practical Reason.
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  • On the Generality Argument for the Knowledge Norm.Davide Fassio - 2020 - Synthese 197 (8):3459-3480.
    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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  • How Does Coherence Matter?Niko Kolodny - 2007 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (1pt3):229 - 263.
    Recently, much attention has been paid to ‘rational requirements’ and, especially, to what I call ‘rational requirements of formal coherence as such’. These requirements are satisfied just when our attitudes are formally coherent: for example, when our beliefs do not contradict each other. Nevertheless, these requirements are puzzling. In particular, it is unclear why we should satisfy them. In light of this, I explore the conjecture that there are no requirements of formal coherence. I do so by trying to construct (...)
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  • Enkrasia or Evidentialism? Learning to Love Mismatch.Maria Lasonen-Aarnio - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):597-632.
    I formulate a resilient paradox about epistemic rationality, discuss and reject various solutions, and sketch a way out. The paradox exemplifies a tension between a wide range of views of epistemic justification, on the one hand, and enkratic requirements on rationality, on the other. According to the enkratic requirements, certain mismatched doxastic states are irrational, such as believing p, while believing that it is irrational for one to believe p. I focus on an evidentialist view of justification on which a (...)
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  • Does Rationality Give Us Reasons?John Broome - 2005 - Philosophical Issues 15 (1):321–337.
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  • Normative Requirements.John Broome - 1999 - Ratio 12 (4):398–419.
    Normative requirements are often overlooked, but they are central features of the normative world. Rationality is often thought to consist in acting for reasons, but following normative requirements is also a major part of rationality. In particular, correct reasoning – both theoretical and practical – is governed by normative requirements rather than by reasons. This article explains the nature of normative requirements, and gives examples of their importance. It also describes mistakes that philosophers have made as a result of confusing (...)
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  • If You Can't Change What You Believe, You Don't Believe It.Grace Helton - 2020 - Noûs 54 (3):501-526.
    I develop and defend the view that subjects are necessarily psychologically able to revise their beliefs in response to relevant counter-evidence. Specifically, subjects can revise their beliefs in response to relevant counter-evidence, given their current psychological mechanisms and skills. If a subject lacks this ability, then the mental state in question is not a belief, though it may be some other kind of cognitive attitude, such as a supposi-tion, an entertained thought, or a pretense. The result is a moderately revisionary (...)
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  • Reasons, Rationality and Preferences.Stuart Yasgur - 2011 - Dissertation, London School of Economics
    The theory of choice receives formal treatment in decision theory, game theory and substantial parts of economics. However there is cause for concern that the formal treatment of the subject has advanced beyond the substantive grounds on which it relies. For, the formal theories fundamentally rely on a concept of preference, which is itself lacking a viable substantive interpretation. Indeed the challenges to the substantive interpretation of ‘preference’ threaten to undermine the standard arguments used to justify the completeness and transitivity (...)
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  • Doing the Best One Can.Ittay Nissan-Rozen - 2011 - Dissertation, London School of Economics
    The thesis explores the question of how should a rational moral agent reason and make choices when he finds himself accepting inconsistent moral judgments. It is argued that it is both conceptually and psychologically justified to describe such an agent as suffering from uncertainty. Such uncertainty, however, is not uncertainty regarding the truth of some descriptive claim, but rather uncertainty regarding the truth of a normative claim. Specifically it is uncertainty regarding the truth of a moral judgement. In the literature (...)
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  • Perceptual Justification and Assertively Representing the World.Jochen Briesen - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (8):2239-2259.
    This paper argues that there is a problem for the justificatory significance of perceptions that has been overlooked thus far. Assuming that perceptual experiences are propositional attitudes and that only propositional attitudes which assertively represent the world can function as justifiers, the problem consists in specifying what it means for a propositional attitude to assertively represent the world without losing the justificatory significance of perceptions—a challenge that is harder to meet than might first be thought. That there is such a (...)
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  • Ewing's Problem.C. Piller - 2007 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 3 (1):0-0.
    Two plausible claims seem to be inconsistent with each other. One is the idea that if one reasonably believes that one ought to fi, then indeed, on pain of acting irrationally, one ought to fi. The other is the view that we are fallible with respect to our beliefs about what we ought to do. Ewing’s Problem is how to react to this apparent inconsistency. I reject two easy ways out. One is Ewing’s own solution to his problem, which is (...)
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  • Discussion Note: Selim Berker’s Combinatorial Argument Against Practical Reasons for Belief.Adam Shmidt - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (2):763-776.
    In a recent paper, Selim Berker develops an abductive argument against practical reasons for belief that exploits an alleged difference between epistemic and practical reasons. According to Berker, epistemic reasons for belief balance to suspension. If I have equally strong epistemic reasons to believe and disbelieve some proposition, I lack sufficient reason either to believe or disbelieve it. Rather, I have decisive reason to suspend judgment. In contrast, practical reasons balance to permission. If I have equally strong practical reasons to (...)
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  • How Genealogies Can Affect the Space of Reasons.Matthieu Queloz - 2020 - Synthese 197 (5):2005-2027.
    Can genealogical explanations affect the space of reasons? Those who think so commonly face two objections. The first objection maintains that attempts to derive reasons from claims about the genesis of something commit the genetic fallacy—they conflate genesis and justification. One way for genealogies to side-step this objection is to focus on the functional origins of practices—to show that, given certain facts about us and our environment, certain conceptual practices are rational because apt responses. But this invites a second objection, (...)
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  • A “Good” Explanation of Five Puzzles About Reasons.Stephen Finlay - 2019 - Philosophical Perspectives 33 (1):62-104.
    This paper champions the view (REG) that the concept of a normative reason for an agent S to perform an action A is that of an explanation why it would be good (in some way, to some degree) for S to do A. REG has numerous virtues, but faces some significant challenges which prompt many philosophers to be skeptical that it can correctly account for all our reasons. I demonstrate how five different puzzles about normative reasons can be solved by (...)
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  • It's OK to Make Mistakes: Against the Fixed Point Thesis.Claire Field - 2019 - Episteme 16 (2):175-185.
    Can we make mistakes about what rationality requires? A natural answer is that we can, since it is a platitude that rational belief does not require truth; it is possible for a belief to be rational and mistaken, and this holds for any subject matter at all. However, the platitude causes trouble when applied to rationality itself. The possibility of rational mistakes about what rationality requires generates a puzzle. When combined with two further plausible claims – the enkratic principle, and (...)
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  • Rationalitätsforderungen als konstitutive Normen.Jonas Zahn - 2020 - Zeitschrift Für Ethik Und Moralphilosophie 3 (1):69-89.
    ZusammenfassungIn der zeitgenössischen metaethischen Literatur gibt es eine gängige Unterscheidung zwischen zwei Arten von Sollen: dem Sollen substanzieller normativer Gründe und dem Sollen struktureller Forderungen oder Prinzipien der Rationalität. Diese Unterscheidung zwischen Gründesollen und rationalem Sollen führt zur Frage, wie beide zusammenhängen. Eine weit verbreitete Theorie behauptet, dass die Normativität des rationalen Sollens durch die Normativität des Gründesollens zu erklären ist. Ich argumentiere dafür, dass keine Variante dieser Theorie des Primats normativer Gründe in der Lage ist, die Normativität des rationalen (...)
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  • Modus Ponens and the Logic of Decision.Nate Charlow - manuscript
    If modus ponens is valid, then you should take up smoking.
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  • Is Memory Merely Testimony From One's Former Self?David James Barnett - 2015 - Philosophical Review 124 (3):353-392.
    A natural view of testimony holds that a source's statements provide one with evidence about what the source believes, which in turn provides one with evidence about what is true. But some theorists have gone further and developed a broadly analogous view of memory. According to this view, which this essay calls the “diary model,” one's memory ordinarily serves as a means for one's present self to gain evidence about one's past judgments, and in turn about the truth. This essay (...)
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  • Agency of Belief and Intention.A. Flowerree - 2017 - Synthese 194 (8):2763-2784.
    In this paper, I argue for a conditional parity thesis: if we are agents with respect to our intentions, we are agents with respect to our beliefs. In the final section, I motivate a categorical version of the parity thesis: we are agents with respect to belief and intention. My aim in this paper is to show that there is no unique challenge facing epistemic agency that is not also facing agency with respect to intention. My thesis is ambitious on (...)
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  • Reason Explanation and the Second-Person Perspective.Johannes Roessler - 2014 - Philosophical Explorations 17 (3):346-357.
    On a widely held view, the canonical way to make sense of intentional actions is to invoke the agent's ‘motivating reasons’, where the claim that X did A for some ‘motivating reason’ is taken to be neutral on whether X had a normative reason to do A. In this paper, I explore a challenge to this view, drawing on Anscombe's ‘second-personal’ approach to the nature of action explanation.
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  • Rationalizing Flow: Agency in Skilled Unreflective Action.Michael Brownstein - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 168 (2):545-568.
    In recent work, Peter Railton, Julia Annas, and David Velleman aim to reconcile the phenomenon of “flow”—broadly understood as describing the “unreflective” aspect of skilled action—with one or another familiar conception of agency. While there are important differences between their arguments, Railton, Annas, and Velleman all make, or are committed to, at least one similar pivotal claim. Each argues, directly or indirectly, that agents who perform skilled unreflective actions can, in principle, accurately answer “Anscombean” questions—”what” and “why” questions— about what (...)
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  • Motivating Reason to Slow the Factive Turn in Epistemology.J. Drake - forthcoming - In Veli Mitova (ed.), The Factive Turn in Epistemology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1-22.
    In this paper I give a novel argument for the view that epistemic normative reasons (or evidence) need not be facts. I first argue that the nature of normative reasons is uniform, such that our positions about the factivity of reasons should agree across normative realms –– whether epistemic, moral, practical, or otherwise. With that in mind, I proceed in a somewhat indirect way. I argue that if practical motivating reasons are not factive, then practical normative reasons are not factive. (...)
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  • Ontological-Transcendental Defence of Metanormative Realism.Michael Kowalik - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (2):573-586.
    If there is something that every possible agent is committed to value, and certain actions or attitudes either enhance or diminish P, then normative claims about a range of intentional actions can be objectively and non-trivially evaluated. I argue that the degree of existence as an agent depends on the consistency of reflexive-relating with other individuals of the agent-kind: the ontological thesis. I then show that in intending to act on a reason, every agent is rationally committed to value being (...)
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  • Introspection and Necessity.Daniel Stoljar - 2018 - Noûs 52 (2):389-410.
    What is the connection between being in a conscious mental state and believing that you yourself are currently in that state? On the one hand, it is natural to think that this connection is, or involves, a necessary connection of some sort. On the other hand, it is hard to know what the nature of this necessary connection is. For there are plausible arguments according to which this connection is not metaphysically necessary, not rationally necessary, and not merely naturally necessary. (...)
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