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The Possibility of Practical Reason

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

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  1. Illusions of Value.Pete Fossey - 2015 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (2):01-06.
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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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  • 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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  • Knowing What I’M About To Do Without Evidence.Robert Dunn - 1998 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 6 (2):231 – 252.
    J. David Velleman casts foreknowledge of one's own next move as psychologically active. As agents, we form prior intentions about what we will do next. Such prior intentions are licensed self-fulfilling beliefs or directive cognitions. These cognitions differ from ordinary predictions in their psychological relation to the evidence, in that they precede that crucial part of the evidence which consists in the fact that they have been formed. However, once formed, these cognitions are epistemologically unremarkable: they are directly justified by (...)
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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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  • Preference-Formation and Personal Good.Connie S. Rosati - 2006 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 59:33-64.
    As persons, beings with a capacity for autonomy, we face a certain practical task in living out our lives. At any given period we find ourselves with many desires or preferences, yet we have limited resources, and so we cannot satisfy them all. Our limited resources include insufficient economic means, of course; few of us have either the funds or the material provisions to obtain or pursue all that we might like. More significantly, though, we are limited to a single (...)
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  • Leading a Life of One’s Own: On Well-Being and Narrative Autonomy.Johan BrÄnnmark - 2006 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 59:65-82.
    We all want things. And although we might disagree on just how significant our wants, desires, or preferences are for the matter of how well we fare in life, we would probably all agree on some of them having some significance. So any reasonable theory about the human good should in some way acknowledge this. The theory that most clearly meets this demand is of course preferentialism, but even pluralist theories can do so. However, then they will at the same (...)
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  • Teleology and Normativity.Matthew Silverstein - 2016 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 11:214-240.
    Constitutivists seek to locate the metaphysical foundations of ethics in nonnormative facts about what is constitutive of agency. For most constitutivists, this involves grounding authoritative norms in the teleological structure of agency. Despite a recent surge in interest, the philosophical move at the heart of this sort of constitutivism remains underdeveloped. Some constitutivists—Foot, Thomson, and Korsgaard (at least in her recent *Self-Constitution*)—adopt a broadly Aristotelian approach. They claim that the functional nature of agency grounds normative judgments about agents in much (...)
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  • Constitutivism and the Inescapability of Agency.Luca Ferrero - 2009 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 4:303-333.
    Constitutivism argues that the source of the categorical force of the norms of rationality and morality lies in the constitutive features of agency. A systematic failure to be guided by these norms would amount to a loss or lack of agency. Since we cannot but be agents, we cannot but be unconditionally guided by these norms. The constitutivist strategy has been challenged by David Enoch. He argues that our participation in agency is optional and thus cannot be a source of (...)
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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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  • 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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  • The Agential Profile of Perceptual Experience.Thomas Crowther - 2010 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 110 (2pt2):219-242.
    Reflection on cases involving the occurrence of various types of perceptual activity suggests that the phenomenal character of perceptual experience can be partly determined by agential factors. I discuss the significance of these kinds of case for the dispute about phenomenal character that is at the core of recent philosophy of perception. I then go on to sketch an account of how active and passive elements of phenomenal character are related to one another in activities like watching and looking at (...)
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  • Oughts and Ends.Stephen Finlay - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 143 (3):315 - 340.
    This paper advances a reductive semantics for ‘ought’ and a naturalistic theory of normativity. It gives a unified analysis of predictive, instrumental, and categorical uses of ‘ought’: the predictive ‘ought’ is basic, and is interpreted in terms of probability. Instrumental ‘oughts’ are analyzed as predictive ‘oughts’ occurring under an ‘in order that’ modifer (the end-relational theory). The theory is then extended to categorical uses of ‘ought’: it is argued that they are special rhetorical uses of the instrumental ‘ought’. Plausible conversational (...)
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  • The Aggregation Problem for Scanlonian Contractualism: An Exploration of the Relevance View, Mixed Solutions, and Why Scanlonian Contractualists Could Be, and Perhaps Should Be, Restricted Prioritarians.Aart Van Gils - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Reading
    In this thesis, I discuss the aggregation problem for T. M. Scanlon’s “contractualism”. I argue that Scanlonian contractualists have the following two options when it comes to the aggregation problem. First, they can choose to limit aggregation directly via a specific version of the Relevance View, “Sequential Claims-Matching”. Second, Scanlonian contractualists can adopt a so-called “mixed solution” of which I propose a specific version. My mixed solution does not limit aggregation. Rather, it either avoids some of the counterintuitive results in (...)
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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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  • Epistemic Schmagency?A. K. Flowerree - 2018 - In Christos Kyriacou & Robin McKenna (eds.), Metaepistemology: Realism & Antirealism. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 289-310.
    Constructivist approaches in epistemology and ethics offer a promising account of normativity. But constructivism faces a powerful Schmagency Objection, raised by David Enoch. While Enoch’s objection has been widely discussed in the context of practical norms, no one has yet explored how the Schmagency Objection might undermine epistemic constructivism. In this paper, I rectify that gap. First, I develop the objection against a prominent form of epistemic constructivism, Belief Constitutivism. Belief Constitutivism is susceptible to a Schmagency Objection, I argue, because (...)
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  • Epistemic Norms, All Things Considered.Kate Nolfi - 2019 - Synthese 198 (7):6717-6737.
    An action-oriented epistemology takes the idea that our capacity for belief subserves our capacity for action as the starting point for epistemological theorizing. This paper argues that an action-oriented epistemology is especially well-positioned to explain why it is that, at least for believers like us, whether or not conforming with the epistemic norms that govern belief-regulation would lead us to believe that p always bears on whether we have normative reasons to believe that p. If the arguments of this paper (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Self-Exposure and Exposure of the Self: Informational Privacy and the Presentation of Identity. [REVIEW]David W. Shoemaker - 2010 - Ethics and Information Technology 12 (1):3-15.
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  • Agency, Consciousness, and Executive Control.Jesús H. Aguilar & Andrei A. Buckareff - 2009 - Philosophia 37 (1):21-30.
    On the Causal Theory of Action (CTA), internal proper parts of an agent such as desires and intentions are causally responsible for actions. CTA has increasingly come under attack for its alleged failure to account for agency. A recent version of this criticism due to François Schroeter proposes that CTA cannot provide an adequate account of either the executive control or the autonomous control involved in full-fledged agency. Schroeter offers as an alternative a revised understanding of the proper role of (...)
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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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  • Imagination and the Will.Fabian Dorsch - 2005 - Dissertation, University College London
    The principal aim of my thesis is to provide a unified theory of imagining, that is, a theory which aspires to capture the common nature of all central forms of imagining and to distinguish them from all paradigm instances of non-imaginative phenomena. The theory which I intend to put forward is a version of what I call the Agency Account of imagining and, accordingly, treats imaginings as mental actions of a certain kind. More precisely, it maintains that imaginings are mental (...)
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  • Putting Reasons First: A Defense of Normative Non-Naturalism.Andrew T. Forcehimes - unknown
    Against non-analytic naturalism and quietist realism, I defend a robust form of non-naturalism. The argument proceeds as follows: In the face of extensional underdetermination, quietist realism cannot non-question-beggingly respond to alternative accounts that offer formally identical but substantively different interpretations of what reasons are. They face what we might call the reasons appropriation problem. In light of this problem, quietists ought to abandon their view in favor of robust realism. By permitting substantive metaphysical claims we can then argue, based on (...)
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  • Inescapability Revisited.Luca Ferrero - 2018 - Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 41 (4):113-158.
    According to constitutivism, the objective authority of practical reason is to be grounded in the constitutive features of agency. In this paper, I offer a brief survey of the basic structure of constitutive argument about objectivity and consider how constitutivism might dispel the worry that it can only ground a conditional kind of authority. I then consider David Enoch’s original shmagency challenge and the response in terms of the inescapability of agency. In particular, I revisit the appeal to inescapability in (...)
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  • Event-Causal Libertarianism, Functional Reduction, and the Disappearing Agent Argument.Christopher Evan Franklin - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 170 (3):413-432.
    Event-causal libertarians maintain that an agent’s freely bringing about a choice is reducible to states and events involving him bringing about the choice. Agent-causal libertarians demur, arguing that free will requires that the agent be irreducibly causally involved. Derk Pereboom and Meghan Griffith have defended agent-causal libertarianism on this score, arguing that since on event-causal libertarianism an agent’s contribution to his choice is exhausted by the causal role of states and events involving him, and since these states and events leave (...)
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  • The Shape of a Life and the Value of Loss and Gain.Joshua Glasgow - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (3):665-682.
    We ordinarily think that, keeping all else equal, a life that improves is better than one that declines. However, it has proven challenging to account for such value judgments: some, such as Fred Feldman and Daniel Kahneman, have simply denied that these judgments are rational, while others, such as Douglas Portmore, Michael Slote, and David Velleman, have proposed justifications for the judgments that appear to be incomplete or otherwise problematic. This article identifies problems with existing accounts and suggests a novel (...)
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  • Naughty Beliefs.Andrew Huddleston - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (2):209-222.
    Can a person ever occurrently believe p and yet have the simultaneous, occurrent belief q that this very belief that p is false? Surely not, most would say: that description of a person’s epistemic economy seems to misunderstand the very concept of belief. In this paper I question this orthodox assumption. There are, I suggest, cases where we have a first-order mental state m that involves taking the world to be a certain way, yet although we ourselves acknowledge that we (...)
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  • Farewell to the Luck (and Mind) Argument.Christopher Evan Franklin - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (2):199-230.
    In this paper I seek to defend libertarianism about free will and moral responsibility against two well-known arguments: the luck argument and the Mind argument. Both of these arguments purport to show that indeterminism is incompatible with the degree of control necessary for free will and moral responsibility. I begin the discussion by elaborating these arguments, clarifying important features of my preferred version of libertarianism—features that will be central to an adequate response to the arguments—and showing why a strategy of (...)
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  • Akratic Believing?Jonathan E. Adler - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 110 (1):1 - 27.
    Davidson's account of weakness of will dependsupon a parallel that he draws between practicaland theoretical reasoning. I argue that theparallel generates a misleading picture oftheoretical reasoning. Once the misleadingpicture is corrected, I conclude that theattempt to model akratic belief on Davidson'saccount of akratic action cannot work. Thearguments that deny the possibility of akraticbelief also undermine, more generally, variousattempts to assimilate theoretical to practicalreasoning.
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  • Deliberating for Our Far Future Selves.Jennifer M. Morton - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (4):809-828.
    The temporal period between the moment of deliberation and the execution of the intention varies widely—from opening an umbrella when one feels the first raindrops hit to planning and writing a book. I investigate the distinctive ability that adult human beings have to deliberate for their far future selves exhibited at the latter end of this temporal spectrum, which I term prospective deliberation. What grounds it when it is successful? And, why does it fail in some cases? I shall argue (...)
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  • Truth Promoting Non-Evidential Reasons for Belief.Brian Talbot - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 168 (3):599-618.
    Sometimes a belief that p promotes having true beliefs, whether or not p is true. This gives reasons to believe that p, but most epistemologists would deny that it gives epistemic reasons, or that these reasons can epistemically justify the belief that p. Call these reasons to believe “truth promoting non-evidential reasons for belief.” This paper argues that three common views in epistemology, taken together, entail that reasons of this sort can epistemically justify beliefs. These three claims are: epistemic oughts (...)
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  • ‘The Doing is Everything’: A Middle-Voiced Reading of Agency in Nietzsche.Béatrice Han-Pile - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (1):42-64.
    ABSTRACTNietzsche's famous claim, ‘das Thun ist Alles’, is usually translated as ‘the deed is everything’. I argue that it is better rendered as ‘the doing is everything’. Accordingly, I propose a processual reading of agency in GM 1 13 which draws both on Nietzsche's reflections on grammar, and on the Greek middle voice, to displace the opposition between deeds and events, agents and patients by introducing the notion of middle-voiced ‘doings’. The relevant question then is not ‘is this a doing (...)
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  • The Guise of the Good and the Problem of Partiality.Allan Hazlett - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (6):851-872.
    According to the guise of the good thesis, we desire things under the ‘guise of the good.’ Here I sympathetically articulate a generic formulation of the guise of the good thesis, and addre...
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  • Reasons for Emotion and Moral Motivation.Reid Blackman - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (6):805-827.
    Internalism about normative reasons is the view that an agent’s normative reasons depend on her motivational constitution. On the assumption that there are reasons for emotion I argue that externalism about reasons for emotion entails that all rational agents have reasons to be morally motivated and internalism about reasons for emotion is implausible. If the arguments are sound we can conclude that all rational agents have reasons to be morally motivated. Resisting this conclusion requires either justifying internalism about reasons for (...)
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  • Autonomy and Radical Evil: A Kantian Challenge to Constitutivism.Wolfram Gobsch - 2019 - Philosophical Explorations 22 (2):194-207.
    Properly understood, Kant’s moral philosophy is incompatible with constitutivism. According to the constitutivist, being subject to the moral law cannot be a matter of free choice, and failure to c...
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  • Why Credences Are Not Beliefs.Elizabeth Jackson - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    A question of recent interest in epistemology and philosophy of mind is how belief and credence relate to each other. A number of philosophers argue for a belief-first view of the relationship between belief and credence. On the belief-first view, what it is to have a credence just is to have a particular kind of belief, that is, a belief whose content involves probabilities or epistemic modals. Here, I argue against the belief-first view: specifically, I argue that it cannot account (...)
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  • Agency and Normative Self-Governance.Matthew Silverstein - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):517-528.
    We are agents: we can deliberate about what to do, and then act on the basis of that deliberation. We are also capable of normative self-governance: we can identify and respond to reasons as reasons. Many theorists believe that these two capacities are intimately connected. On the basis of this connection they conclude that practical reasoning must be carried out under the guise of a justification. This paper explores two strategies for avoiding that conclusion. The first, which just denies the (...)
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  • Epistemically Flawless False Beliefs.Kate Nolfi - 2020 - Synthese 198 (12):11291-11309.
    A starting point for the sort of alethic epistemological approach that dominates both historical and contemporary western philosophy is that epistemic norms, standards, or ideals are to be characterized by appeal to some kind of substantively normative relationship between belief and truth. Accordingly, the alethic epistemologist maintains that false beliefs are necessarily defective, imperfect, or flawed, at least from the epistemic perspective. In this paper, I develop an action-oriented alternative to the alethic approach, an alternative that is inspired by and (...)
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  • Bratman on Identity Over Time and Identification at a Time.Christopher Evan Franklin - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (1):1-14.
    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 Michael Bratman’s well-known identification reductionist theory (...)
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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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  • Belief and Difficult Action.Berislav Marušić - 2012 - Philosophers' Imprint 12:1-30.
    Suppose you decide or promise to do something that you have evidence is difficult to do. Should you believe that you will do it? On the one hand, if you believe that you will do it, your belief goes against the evidence—since having evidence that it’s difficult to do it constitutes evidence that it is likely that you won’t do it. On the other hand, if you don’t believe that you will do it but instead believe, as your evidence suggests, (...)
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  • Actions and Accidents.David Horst - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (3):300-325.
    In acting intentionally, it is no accident that one is doing what one intends to do. In this paper, I ask how to account for this non-accidentality requirement on intentional action. I argue that, for systematic reasons, the currently prevailing view of intentional action – the Causal Theory of Action – is ill-equipped to account for it. I end by proposing an alternative account, according to which an intention is a special kind of cause, one to which it is essential (...)
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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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  • Knowing the Good and Knowing What One is Doing.Sergio Tenenbaum - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (S1):91-117.
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  • Moral Naturalism and the Normative Question.Susan Babbitt - 2000 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 30 (Supplement):139-173.
    (2000). Moral Naturalism and the Normative Question. Canadian Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 30, Supplementary Volume 26: Moral Epistemology Naturalized, pp. 139-173.
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  • Understanding Versus Explanation? How to Think About the Distinction Between the Human and the Natural Sciences.Karsten R. Stueber - 2012 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 55 (1):17 - 32.
    Abstract This essay will argue systematically and from a historical perspective that there is something to be said for the traditional claim that the human and natural sciences are distinct epistemic practices. Yet, in light of recent developments in contemporary philosophy of science, one has to be rather careful in utilizing the distinction between understanding and explanation for this purpose. One can only recognize the epistemic distinctiveness of the human sciences by recognizing the epistemic centrality of reenactive empathy for our (...)
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  • IX—Perceptual Activity and Bodily Awareness.Louise Richardson - 2015 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 115 (2pt2):147-165.
    Bodily awareness is a kind of perceptual awareness of the body that we do not usually count as a sense. I argue that that there is an overlooked agential difference between bodily awareness and perception in the five familiar senses: a difference in what is involved in perceptual activity in sight, hearing, touch taste and smell on the one hand, and bodily awareness on the other.
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  • Reasons Without Principles.Herman E. Stark - 2004 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 47 (2):143 – 167.
    What is required for one thing to be a reason for another? Must the reason, more precisely, be or involve a principle? In this essay I target the idea that justification via reasons of one's beliefs (e.g., epistemic or moral) requires that the 'justifying reasons' be or involve (substantive and significant) principles. I identify and explore some potential sources of a principles requirement, and conclude that none of them (i.e., the normative function of reasons, the abstract structure of reasons, the (...)
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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.
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