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The Possibility of Practical Reason

Ethics 106 (4):694-726 (1996)

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  1. The possibility of deliberate norm-adherence in AI.Danielle Swanepoel - 2020 - Ethics and Information Technology 23 (2):157-163.
    Moral agency status is often given to those individuals or entities which act intentionally within a society or environment. In the past, moral agency has primarily been focused on human beings and some higher-order animals. However, with the fast-paced advancements made in artificial intelligence, we are now quickly approaching the point where we need to ask an important question: should we grant moral agency status to AI? To answer this question, we need to determine the moral agency status of these (...)
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  • Law and Authority Under the Guise of the Good, by Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco.Ori J. Herstein - 2016 - Mind 125 (500):1213-1222.
    Law and Authority Under the Guise of the Good, by Rodriguez-BlancoVeronica. Oxford : Hart Publishing, 2014. Pp. 215.
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  • Self-validation and internalism in Velleman’s constitutivism.Michael Bukoski - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2667-2686.
    Metaethical constitutivists explain reasons or normativity in terms of what is constitutive of agency. In Velleman’s paradigmatic constitutivist theory, that is the aim of self-understanding. The best-known objection to constitutivism is Enoch’s shmagency objection: constitutivism cannot explain normativity because a constitutive aim of agency lacks normative significance unless one has reason to be an agent rather than a “shmagent”. In response, Velleman argues that the constitutive aim is self-validating. I argue that this claim is false. If the constitutive aim of (...)
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  • Illusions of Value.Pete Fossey - 2015 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (2):01-06.
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  • The Mirage of Motivation Reason Internalism.Saleh Afroogh - 2022 - Journal of Value Inquiry 56:1-19.
    What is it for an agent to have a reason to do a certain action? Does this mean that she would desire to do the action under specified conditions, or that there is some external consideration, which she ought to follow? The former affective (i.e., desire-based) theory is ascribed to Humeans, whereas the latter cognitive theory is adopted by Kantians. The debate between the two views has seemingly ended up in a theoretical standoff, and most of the theorists of practical (...)
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  • Imagination in Action.Philipp Dorstewitz - 2016 - Metaphilosophy 47 (3):385-405.
    Recent interest in phenomena of simulation, pretense, and play has given rise to new philosophical debates on the basic structure of human action and action planning. Some philosophers sought to transform Hume's desire-belief-action model by sophisticating its basic structure. For example, they introduced “hypothetical world boxes” or imaginary “i-desires” and “i-beliefs” into the standard model, in order to account for the representational and motivational structures of imaginary scripts. Others used phenomena of behavior driven by imagination to attempt a more fundamental (...)
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  • Moral Naturalism and the Normative Question.Susan E. Babbitt - 2000 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 26:139-173.
    Moral naturalism, as I use the term here, is the view that there are moral facts in the natural world – facts that are both natural and normative – and that moral claims are true or false in virtue of their corresponding or not to these natural facts. Moral naturalists argue that, since moral claims are about natural facts, we can establish the truth about moral claims through empirical investigation. Moral knowledge, on this view, is a form of empirical knowledge.One (...)
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  • Truth and Ends in Dewey's Pragmatism.Henry S. Richardson - 1998 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 24:109-147.
    Dewey's voluminous writings, spanning decades and reflecting the contrasting national moods of different historical periods, abound with tensions, not to say contradictions. In highlighting and working with a conflict within Dewey's commitments, then, I do not mean to be catching him out or correcting a mistake. The tension on which I focus is one with which he struggled for most of his philosophical career and one that he never satisfactorily resolved, yet it is also one that goes to the heart (...)
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  • Surprising Suspensions: The Epistemic Value of Being Ignorant.Christopher Willard-Kyle - 2021 - Dissertation, Rutgers University - New Brunswick
    Knowledge is good, ignorance is bad. So it seems, anyway. But in this dissertation, I argue that some ignorance is epistemically valuable. Sometimes, we should suspend judgment even though by believing we would achieve knowledge. In this apology for ignorance (ignorance, that is, of a certain kind), I defend the following four theses: 1) Sometimes, we should continue inquiry in ignorance, even though we are in a position to know the answer, in order to achieve more than mere knowledge (e.g. (...)
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  • Additive Theories of Rationality: A Critique.Matthew Boyle - 2016 - European Journal of Philosophy 24 (3):527-555.
    Additive theories of rationality, as I use the term, are theories that hold that an account of our capacity to reflect on perceptually-given reasons for belief and desire-based reasons for action can begin with an account of what it is to perceive and desire, in terms that do not presuppose any connection to the capacity to reflect on reasons, and then can add an account of the capacity for rational reflection, conceived as an independent capacity to ‘monitor’ and ‘regulate’ our (...)
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  • Practical reason.R. Jay Wallace - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Practical reason is the general human capacity for resolving, through reflection, the question of what one is to do. Deliberation of this kind is practical in at least two senses. First, it is practical in its subject matter, insofar as it is concerned with action. But it is also practical in its consequences or its issue, insofar as reflection about action itself directly moves people to act. Our capacity for deliberative self-determination raises two sets of philosophical problems. First, there are (...)
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  • The ethics of belief.Andrew Chignell - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The “ ethics of belief” refers to a cluster of questions at the intersection of epistemology, philosophy of mind, psychology, and ethics. The central question in the debate is whether there are norms of some sort governing our habits of belief formation, belief maintenance, and belief relinquishment. Is it ever or always morally wrong to hold a belief on insufficient evidence? Is it ever or always morally right to believe on the basis of sufficient evidence, or to withhold belief in (...)
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  • Delusions, Acceptances, and Cognitive Feelings.Richard Dub - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (1):27-60.
    Psychopathological delusions have a number of features that are curiously difficult to explain. Delusions are resistant to counterevidence and impervious to counterargument. Delusions are theoretically, affectively, and behaviorally circumscribed: delusional individuals often do not act on their delusions and often do not update beliefs on the basis of their delusions. Delusional individuals are occasionally able to distinguish their delusions from other beliefs, sometimes speaking of their “delusional reality.” To explain these features, I offer a model according to which, contrary to (...)
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  • Events, agents, and settling whether and how one intervenes.Jason D. Runyan - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (6):1629-1646.
    Event-causal libertarians maintain that an agent’s settling of whether certain states-of-affairs obtain on a particular occasion can be reduced to the causing of events (e.g., bodily motions, coming to a resolution) by certain mental events or states, such as certain desires, beliefs and/or intentions. Agent-causal libertarians disagree. A common critique against event-causal libertarian accounts is that the agent’s role of settling matters is left unfilled and the agent “disappears” from such accounts—a problem known as the disappearing agent problem. Recently, Franklin (...)
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  • Activity, Passivity, and Normative Avowal.Andrew McAninch - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (1):2-24.
    The idea that agents can be active with respect to some of their actions, and passive with respect to others, is a widely held assumption within moral philosophy. But exactly how to characterize these notions is controversial. I argue that an agent is active just in case her action is one whose motive she can truly avow as reason-giving, or her action is one whose motive she can disavow, provided her disavowal effects appropriate modifications in her future motives. This view (...)
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  • Murdoch on the Sovereignty of Good.Kieran Setiya - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13.
    Argues for an interpretation of Iris Murdoch on which her account of moral reasons has Platonic roots, and on which she gives an ontological proof of the reality of the Good. This reading explains the structure of Sovereignty, how Murdoch's claims differ from a focus on "thick moral concepts," and how to find coherent arguments in her book.
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  • Are Emotions Evaluative Modes?Jérôme Dokic & Stéphane Lemaire - 2015 - Dialectica 69 (3):271-292.
    Following Meinong, many philosophers have been attracted by the view that emotions have intrinsically evaluative correctness conditions. On one version of this view, emotions have evaluative contents. On another version, emotions are evaluative attitudes; they are evaluative at the level of intentional mode rather than content. We raise objections against the latter version, showing that the only two ways of implementing it are hopeless. Either emotions are manifestly evaluative or they are not. In the former case, the Attitudinal View threatens (...)
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  • Belief in make-believe.Stephen Everson - 2007 - European Journal of Philosophy 15 (1):63–81.
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  • Who's there? Selfhood, self-regard, and social relations.Diana Tietjens Meyers - 2000 - Hypatia 20 (4):200-215.
    : J. David Velleman develops a canny, albeit mentalistic, theory of selfhood that furnishes some insights feminist philosophers should heed but that does not adequately heed some of the insights feminist philosophers have developed about the embodiment and relationality of the self. In my view, reflexivity cannot do the whole job of accounting for selfhood, for it rests on an unduly sharp distinction between reflexive loci of understanding and value, on the one hand, and embodiment and relationality, on the other. (...)
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  • Who's There? Selfhood, Self-Regard, and Social Relations.Diana Tietjens Meyers - 2000 - Hypatia 20 (4):200-215.
    J. David Velleman develops a canny, albeit mentalistic, theory of selfhood that furnishes some insights feminist philosophers should heed but that does not adequately heed some of the insights feminist philosophers have developed about the embodiment and relationality of the self. In my view, reflenvity cannot do the whole job of accounting for selfhood, for it rests on an unduly sharp distinction between reflexive loci of understanding and value, on the one hand, and embodiment and relationality, on the other. 1 (...)
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  • Self-knowledge, Agency and Force.Lucy O'brien - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (3):580-601.
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  • Self-knowledge, agency, and force.Lucy O'brien - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (3):580–601.
    My aim in this paper is to articulate further what may be called an agency theory of self-knowledge. Many theorists have stressed how important agency is to self- knowledge, and much work has been done drawing connections between the two notions.<sup>2</sup> However, it has not always been clear what _epistemic_ advantage agency gives us in this area and why it does so. I take it as a constraint on an adequate account of how a subject knows her own mental states (...)
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  • The Puzzle of Imaginative Desire.Amy Kind - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):421-439.
    The puzzle of imaginative desire arises from the difficulty of accounting for the surprising behaviour of desire in imaginative activities such as our engagement with fiction and our games of pretend. Several philosophers have recently attempted to solve this puzzle by introducing a class of novel mental states—what they call desire-like imaginings or i-desires. In this paper, I argue that we should reject the i-desire solution to the puzzle of imaginative desire. The introduction of i-desires is both ontologically profligate and (...)
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  • Alief in Action (and Reaction).Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2008 - Mind and Language 23 (5):552--585.
    I introduce and argue for the importance of a cognitive state that I call alief. An alief is, to a reasonable approximation, an innate or habitual propensity to respond to an apparent stimulus in a particular way. Recognizing the role that alief plays in our cognitive repertoire provides a framework for understanding reactions that are governed by nonconscious or automatic mechanisms, which in turn brings into proper relief the role played by reactions that are subject to conscious regulation and deliberate (...)
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  • Extending Introspection.Lukas Schwengerer - 2021 - In Inês Hipólito, Robert William Clowes & Klaus Gärtner (eds.), The Mind-Technology Problem : Investigating Minds, Selves and 21st Century Artefacts. Springer Verlag. pp. 231-251.
    Clark and Chalmers propose that the mind extends further than skin and skull. If they are right, then we should expect this to have some effect on our way of knowing our own mental states. If the content of my notebook can be part of my belief system, then looking at the notebook seems to be a way to get to know my own beliefs. However, it is at least not obvious whether self-ascribing a belief by looking at my notebook (...)
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  • Self-determination, self-transformation, and the case of Jean Valjean: a problem for Velleman.Kevin Timpe - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (10):2591-2598.
    According to reductionists about agency, an agent’s bringing something about is reducible to states and events involving the agent bringing something about. Many have worried that reductionism cannot accommodate robust forms of agency, such as self-determination. One common reductionist answer to this worry contends that self-determining agents are identified with certain states and events, and so these states and events causing a decision counts as the agent’s self-determining the decision. In this paper I discuss J. David Velleman’s identification reductionist theory, (...)
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  • Giving the Benefit of the Doubt.Paul Faulkner - 2018 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 26 (2):139-155.
    Faced with evidence that what a person said is false, we can nevertheless trust them and so believe what they say – choosing to give them the benefit of the doubt. This is particularly notable when the person is a friend, or someone we are close to. Towards such persons, we demonstrate a remarkable epistemic partiality. We can trust, and so believe, our friends even when the balance of the evidence suggests that what they tell us is false. And insofar (...)
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  • VIII-An Argument Against Motivational Internalism.Elinor Mason - 2008 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108 (1part2):135-156.
    In this paper I argue that I argue that motivational internalism should not be driving metaethics. I first show that many arguments for motivational internalism beg the question by resting on an illicit appeal to internalist assumptions about the nature of reasons. Then I make a distinction between weak internalism and the weakest form of internalism. Weak internalism allows that agents fail to act according to their normative judgments when they are practically irrational. I show that when we clarify the (...)
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  • Agency, Shmagency.David Enoch - 2006 - Philosophical Review 115 (2):169-198.
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  • Why believe the truth? Shah and Velleman on the aim of belief.José L. Zalabardo - 2010 - Philosophical Explorations 13 (1):1 - 21.
    The subject matter of this paper is the view that it is correct, in an absolute sense, to believe a proposition just in case the proposition is true. I take issue with arguments in support of this view put forward by Nishi Shah and David Velleman.
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  • Hume and the phenomenology of agency.Joshua M. Wood - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (3-4):496-517.
    Some philosophers argue that Hume, given his theory of causation, is committed to an implausibly thin account of what it is like to act voluntarily. Others suggest, on the basis of his argument against free will, that Hume takes no more than an illusory feature of action to distinguish the experience of performing an act from the experience of merely observing an act. In this paper, I argue that Hume is committed to neither an unduly parsimonious nor a sceptical account (...)
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  • Agential Knowledge, Action and Process.Ben Wolfson - 2012 - Theoria 78 (4):326-357.
    Claims concerning processes, claims of the form “xisφing”, have been the subject of renewed interest in recent years in the philosophy of action. However, this interest has frequently limited itself to noting certain formal features such claims have, and has not extended to a discussion of when they are true. This article argues that a claim of the form “xisφing” is true when what is happening withxis such that, if it is not interrupted, a φing will occur. It then applies (...)
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  • Expressivism about delusion attribution.Sam Wilkinson - 2020 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 16 (2):59-77.
    In this paper, I will present and advocate a view about what we are doing when we attribute delusion, namely, say that someone is delusional. It is an “expressivist” view, roughly analogous to expressivism in meta-ethics. Just as meta-ethical expressivism accounts for certain key features of moral discourse, so does this expressivism account for certain key features of delusion attribution. And just as meta-ethical expressivism undermines factualism about moral properties, so does this expressivism, if correct, show that certain attempts to (...)
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  • Against the Doctrine of Infallibility.Christopher Willard-Kyle - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (4):pqaa082.
    According to the doctrine of infallibility, one is permitted to believe p if one knows that necessarily, one would be right if one believed that p. This plausible principle—made famous in Descartes’ cogito—is false. There are some self-fulfilling, higher-order propositions one can’t be wrong about but shouldn’t believe anyway: believing them would immediately make one's overall doxastic state worse.
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  • Extended belief and extended knowledge.Åsa Wikforss - 2014 - Philosophical Issues 24 (1):460-481.
    The paper discusses the thesis of extended belief and its implications for the possibility of extending ordinary, personal level knowledge. A common worry is that knowledge will overextend, that there will be ‘cognitive bloat’. If the subject’s standing beliefs can be realized in devices such as notebooks and smart phones, what is there to prevent the conclusion that she knows everything stored on such devices? One response to this worry is to block the move from belief to knowledge, and argue (...)
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  • Why did the butler do it?Justin F. White - 2022 - European Journal of Philosophy 30 (1):374-393.
    Drawing on contemporary agency theory and the phenomenological-existential tradition, this paper uses Mr. Stevens, the narrator-butler of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, to examine the interplay and potential tensions between different aspects (and thus different standards) of human agency. Highlighting the problem of mission creep described by John Martin Fischer, in which a notion expands beyond the original purpose, I use Stevens’s thoughts on dignity to outline three different ways actions can (or can fail to) trace back to (...)
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  • Intention and Predicition in Means-End Reasoning.Stephen J. White - 2018 - American Philosophical Quarterly 55 (3):251-266.
    How, if at all, does one's intention to realize an end bear on the justification for taking the means to that end? Theories that allow that intending an end directly provides a reason to take the means are subject to a well-known "bootstrapping" objection. On the other hand, "anti-psychologistic" accounts—which seek to derive instrumental reasons directly from the reasons that support adopting the end itself—have unacceptable implications where an agent faces multiple rationally permissible options. An alternative, predictive, role for intention (...)
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  • Must rational intentions maximize utility?Ralph Wedgwood - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (sup2):73-92.
    Suppose that it is rational to choose or intend a course of action if and only if the course of action maximizes some sort of expectation of some sort of value. What sort of value should this definition appeal to? According to an influential neo-Humean view, the answer is “Utility”, where utility is defined as a measure of subjective preference. According to a rival neo-Aristotelian view, the answer is “Choiceworthiness”, where choiceworthiness is an irreducibly normative notion of a course of (...)
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  • The fundamental principle of practical reasoning.Ralph Wedgwood - 1998 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 6 (2):189 – 209.
    The fundamental principle of practical reasoning (if there is such a thing) must be a rule which we ought to follow in all our practical reasoning, and which cannot lead to irrational decisions. It must be a rule that it is possible for us to follow directly - that is, without having to follow any other rule of practical reasoning in order to do so. And it must be a basic principle, in the sense that the explanation of why we (...)
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  • Practical reasoning as figuring out what is best: Against constructivism.Ralph Wedgwood - 2002 - Topoi 21 (1-2):139-152.
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  • Confronting Many-Many Problems: Attention and Agentive Control.Wayne Wu - 2011 - Noûs 45 (1):50-76.
    I argue that when perception plays a guiding role in intentional bodily action, it is a necessary part of that action. The argument begins with a challenge that necessarily arises for embodied agents, what I call the Many-Many Problem. The Problem is named after its most common case where agents face too many perceptual inputs and too many possible behavioral outputs. Action requires a solution to the Many-Many Problem by selection of a specific linkage between input and output. In bodily (...)
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  • Normativity and the Will.R. Jay Wallace - 2004 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 55:195-216.
    If there is room for a substantial conception of the will in contemporary theorizing about human agency, it is most likely to be found in the vicinity of the phenomenon of normativity. Rational agency is distinctively responsive to the agent's acknowledgment of reasons, in the basic sense of considerations that speak for and against the alternatives for action that are available. Furthermore, it is natural to suppose that this kind of responsiveness to reasons is possible only for creatures who possess (...)
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  • A New Defense of the Motive of Duty Thesis.Benjamin Wald - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (5):1163-1179.
    According to the Motive of Duty Thesis, a necessary condition for an action to have moral worth is that it be motivated at least in part by a normative assessment of the action. However, this thesis has been subject to two powerful objections. It has been accused of over-intellectualizing moral agency, and of giving the wrong verdict when it comes to people who hold false moral theories that convince them that their actions are in fact morally wrong. I argue that (...)
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  • Aproximación al constitutivismo: objetivo y estructura de la fundamentación constitutivista de las normas morales.Cristian Andrés Zapata Vélez - 2022 - Revista Filosofía Uis 21 (2):101-124.
    Este trabajo busca reconstruir la estructura del constitutivismo para facilitar su difusión en lengua española. Para lograrlo, parte de un análisis de la formulación del objetivo general de la estrategia constitutivista, para luego rastrear sus orígenes históricos en los problemas de las fuentes de la normatividad, el constructivismo y la normatividad de las razones, posteriormente se explica el movimiento simple constitutivista y se cierra el artículo presentando las tres tesis principales que sostiene toda estrategia constitutivista.
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  • Michael Bratman’s planning, time, and self-governance.J. David Velleman - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (9):913-925.
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  • Motivation by Ideal.J. David Velleman - 2002 - Philosophical Explorations 5 (2):89-103.
    I offer an account of how ideals motivate us. My account suggests that although emulating an ideal is often rational, it can lead us to do irrational things. * This is the third in a series of four papers on narrative self-conceptions and their role in moral motivation. In the first paper, “The Self as Narrator” (to appear in Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism: New Essays, ed. Joel Anderson and John Christman), I explore the motivational role of narrative self-conceptions, (...)
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  • The Motivational Role of Belief.Neil Van Leeuwen - 2009 - Philosophical Papers 38 (2):219 - 246.
    This paper claims that the standard characterization of the motivational role of belief should be supplemented. Beliefs do not only, jointly with desires, cause and rationalize actions that will satisfy the desires, if the beliefs are true; beliefs are also the practical ground of other cognitive attitudes, like imagining, which means beliefs determine whether and when one acts with those other attitudes as the cognitive inputs into choices and practical reasoning. In addition to arguing for this thesis, I take issue (...)
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  • The Motivational Role of Belief.D. S. Neil Van Leeuwen - 2009 - Philosophical Papers 38 (2):219-246.
    This paper claims that the standard characterization of the motivational role of belief should be supplemented. Beliefs do not only, jointly with desires, cause and rationalize actions that will satisfy the desires, if the beliefs are true; beliefs are also the practical ground of other cognitive attitudes, like imagining, which means beliefs determine whether and when one acts with those other attitudes as the cognitive inputs into choices and practical reasoning. In addition to arguing for this thesis, I take issue (...)
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  • The Meanings of “Imagine” Part II: Attitude and Action.Neil Van Leeuwen - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (11):791-802.
    In this Part II, I investigate different approaches to the question of what makes imagining different from belief. I find that the sentiment-based approach of David Hume falls short, as does the teleological approach, once advocated by David Velleman. I then consider whether the inferential properties of beliefs and imaginings may differ. Beliefs, I claim, exhibit an anti-symmetric inferential governance over imaginings: they are the background that makes inference from one imagining to the other possible; the reverse is not true, (...)
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  • The Factual Belief Fallacy.Neil Van Leeuwen - 2018 - Contemporary Pragmatism (eds. T. Coleman & J. Jong):319-343.
    This paper explains a fallacy that often arises in theorizing about human minds. I call it the Factual Belief Fallacy. The Fallacy, roughly, involves drawing conclusions about human psychology that improperly ignore the large backgrounds of mostly accurate factual beliefs people have. The Factual Belief Fallacy has led to significant mistakes in both philosophy of mind and cognitive science of religion. Avoiding it helps us better see the difference between factual belief and religious credence; seeing that difference in turn enables (...)
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