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The Possibility of Practical Reason

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

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  1. 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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  • The Abductive Case for Humeanism Over Quasi-Perceptual Theories of Desire.Derek Baker - 2014 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 8 (2):1-29.
    A number of philosophers have offered quasi-perceptual theories of desire, according to which to desire something is roughly to “see” it as having value or providing reasons. These are offered as alternatives to the more traditional Humean Theory of Motivation, which denies that desires have a representational aspect. This paper examines the various considerations offered by advocates to motivate quasi-perceptualism. It argues that Humeanism is in fact able to explain the same data that the quasi-perceptualist can explain, and in one (...)
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  • The Guise of the Good and the Problem of Partiality.Allan Hazlett - 2018 - 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 address a problem for the view, which I call the problem of partiality. The problem is, roughly, that our partial pro-attitudes –for example, our special concern for ourselves –do not correspond to what is absolutely good. I criticize three solutions to the problem, and propose an alternative strategy, on (...)
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  • Reasons for Emotion and Moral Motivation.Reid Blackman - 2018 - 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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  • Hobartian Voluntarism and Epistemic Deontologism.Andrei Buckareff - 2006 - Disputatio 2 (21):1 - 17.
    Mark Heller has recently offered a proposal in defense of a fairly strong version of doxastic voluntarism. Heller looks to the compatibilist theory of free will proposed by R.E. Hobart in the first half of the twentieth century for an account of doxastic control. Heller’s defense of Hobartian Voluntarism is motivated by an appeal to epistemic deontologism. In this paper I argue that Heller’s defense of a version of strong or direct doxastic voluntarism ultimately fails. I finally argue that the (...)
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  • Content-Related and Attitude-Related Reasons for Preferences.Christian Piller - 2006 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 59:155-182.
    In the first section of this paper I draw, on a purely conceptual level, a distinction between two kinds of reasons: content-related and attitude-related reasons. The established view is that, in the case of the attitude of believing something, there are no attitude-related reasons. I look at some arguments intended to establish this claim in the second section with an eye to whether these argument could be generalized to cover the case of preferences as well. In the third section I (...)
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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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  • A Good Exit: What to Do About the End of Our Species?Toby Handfield - 2018 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (3):272-297.
    We know that Homo sapiens will not exist forever. Given this, how should our species end? What are the reasons, if any, to delay our extinction? In this paper, I show that the pre-eminent reasons which favour prolonging the existence of the species are partial: they will arise from the particular attachments and projects of the final few generations. While there may also be impartial reasons to prolong the species, these reasons are liable, with time, to reverse their valence: we (...)
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  • Belief Without Credence.J. Adam Carter, Benjamin W. Jarvis & Katherine Rubin - 2016 - Synthese 193 (8):2323-2351.
    One of the deepest ideological divides in contemporary epistemology concerns the relative importance of belief versus credence. A prominent consideration in favor of credence-based epistemology is the ease with which it appears to account for rational action. In contrast, cases with risky payoff structures threaten to break the link between rational belief and rational action. This threat poses a challenge to traditional epistemology, which maintains the theoretical prominence of belief. The core problem, we suggest, is that belief may not be (...)
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  • Does Intention Involve Belief?Christian Kietzmann - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    European Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  • Deliberation and Acting for Reasons.N. Arpaly & T. Schroeder - 2012 - Philosophical Review 121 (2):209-239.
    Theoretical and practical deliberation are voluntary activities, and like all voluntary activities, they are performed for reasons. To hold that all voluntary activities are performed for reasons in virtue of their relations to past, present, or even merely possible acts of deliberation thus leads to infinite regresses and related problems. As a consequence, there must be processes that are nondeliberative and nonvoluntary but that nonetheless allow us to think and act for reasons, and these processes must be the ones that (...)
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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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  • 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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  • How We Feel About Terrible, Non-Existent Mafiosi.Tyler Doggett & Andy Egan - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (2):277-306.
    We argue for an imaginative analog of desire from premises about imaginative engagement with fiction. There's a bit about the paradox of fiction, too.
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  • Normativity and the Will: R. Jay Wallace.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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  • I—Kathleen Stock: Fictive Utterance and Imagining.Kathleen Stock - 2011 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 85 (1):145-161.
    A popular approach to defining fictive utterance says that, necessarily, it is intended to produce imagining. I shall argue that this is not falsified by the fact that some fictive utterances are intended to be believed, or are non-accidentally true. That this is so becomes apparent given a proper understanding of the relation of what one imagines to one's belief set. In light of this understanding, I shall then argue that being intended to produce imagining is sufficient for fictive utterance (...)
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  • XV-The Limits of Normative Detachment.Nishi Shah - 2010 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 110 (3pt3):347-371.
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  • Liberal Education and the Possibility of Valuational Progress.Agnes Callard - 2017 - Social Philosophy and Policy 34 (2):1-22.
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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 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 has argued that an “enriched” event-causal account (...)
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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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  • Emotionally Guiding Our Actions.Mary Carman - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (1):43-64.
    If emotions have a rational role in action, then one challenge for accounting for how we can act rationally when acting emotionally is to show how we can guide our actions by our emotional considerations, seen as reasons. In this paper, I put forward a novel proposal for how this can be so. Drawing on the interconnection between emotions, cares and caring, I argue that, as the emotional agent is a caring agent, she can be aware of the emotional consideration (...)
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  • The Motivational Role of Belief.D. S. Neil Van Leeuwen - 2009 - Philosophical Papers 38 (2):219-246.
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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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  • 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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  • Do Religious “Beliefs” Respond to Evidence?Neil Van Leeuwen - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (sup1):52-72.
    Some examples suggest that religious credences respond to evidence. Other examples suggest they are wildly unresponsive. So the examples taken together suggest there is a puzzle about whether descriptive religious attitudes respond to evidence or not. I argue for a solution to this puzzle according to which religious credences are characteristically not responsive to evidence; that is, they do not tend to be extinguished by contrary evidence. And when they appear to be responsive, it is because the agents with those (...)
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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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  • Varieties of Epistemic Freedom.Alison Fernandes - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4):1-16.
    When we deliberate about what to do, we appear to be free to decide on different options. Three accounts use ordinary beliefs to explain this apparent freedom—appealing to different types of ‘epistemic freedom’. When an agent has epistemic freedom, her evidence while deliberating does not determine what decision she makes. This ‘epistemic gap’ between her evidence and decision explains why her decision appears free. The varieties of epistemic freedom appealed to might look similar. But there is an important difference. Two (...)
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  • Toward an Ethics of Professional Understanding.Nicolas Tanchuk, Carly Scramstad & Marc Kruse - 2016 - Ethics and Education 11 (1):5-16.
    In this paper, we advance a novel conception of normative ethics and draw out its implications within the domain of professional ethics. We argue that all moral agents, and thus professionals, share a fundamental and constitutive normative interest in correctly conceiving of their ends. All professionals, we claim, by virtue of their positions of social power, have special role responsibilities in cultivating and sustaining societies oriented by this shared ideal of practically oriented ethical understanding. We defend this conception against a (...)
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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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  • Narrative Self-Shaping: A Modest Proposal.Daniel D. Hutto - 2016 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 15 (1):21-41.
    Decoupling a modestly construed Narrative Self Shaping Hypothesis from Strong Narrativism this paper attempts to motivate devoting our intellectual energies to the former. Section one briefly introduces the notions of self-shaping and rehearses reasons for thinking that self-shaping, in a suitably tame form, is, at least to some extent, simply unavoidable for reflective beings. It is against this background that the basic commitments of a modest Narrative Self-Shaping Hypothesis are articulated. Section two identifies a foundational commitment—the central tenet—of all Strong (...)
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  • Truth and Ends in Dewey's Pragmatism.Henry S. Richardson - 1998 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 28 (sup1):109-147.
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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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  • 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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  • How (Not) to Think About Mental Action.Andrei A. Buckareff - 2005 - Philosophical Explorations 8 (1):83-89.
    I examine Galen Strawson's recent work on mental action in his paper, 'Mental Ballistics or The Involuntariness of Spontaneity'. I argue that his account of mental action is too restrictive. I offer a means of testing tokens of mental activity types to determine if they are actional. The upshot is that a good deal more mental activity than Strawson admits is actional.
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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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  • Intention and the Authority of Avowals.Andy Hamilton - 2008 - Philosophical Explorations 11 (1):23 – 37.
    There is a common assumption that intention is a complex behavioural disposition, or a motivational state underlying such a disposition. Associated with this position is the apparently commonsense view that an avowal of intention is a direct report of an inner motivational state, and indirectly an expression of a belief that it is likely that one will A. A central claim of this article is that the dispositional or motivational model is mistaken since it cannot acknowledge either the future-direction of (...)
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  • Reason, Recognition, and Internal Critique.Antti Kauppinen - 2002 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 45 (4):479 – 498.
    Normative political philosophy always refers to a standard against which a society's institutions are judged. In the first, analytical part of the article, the different possible forms of normative criticism are examined according to whether the standards it appeals to are external or internal to the society in question. In the tradition of Socrates and Hegel, it is argued that reconstructing the kind of norms that are implicit in practices enables a critique that does not force the critic's particular views (...)
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  • The Reasons of Trust.Pamela Hieronymi - 2008 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (2):213 – 236.
    I argue to a conclusion I find at once surprising and intuitive: although many considerations show trust useful, valuable, important, or required, these are not the reasons for which one trusts a particular person to do a particular thing. The reasons for which one trusts a particular person on a particular occasion concern, not the value, importance, or necessity of trust itself, but rather the trustworthiness of the person in question in the matter at hand. In fact, I will suggest (...)
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  • A Pluralistic Approach to Paradigmatic Agency.Patrick Fleming - 2010 - Philosophical Explorations 13 (3):307-318.
    Harry Frankfurt and David Velleman have both offered accounts of paradigmatic action. That is, they have offered theories as to which capacities allow us to maximally express our agency. To greatly over simplify, Frankfurt ultimately roots our agency in our capacity to care, while Velleman places it in our cognitive capacity to make sense of ourselves. This paper contends that both have an important piece of the truth and that we should accept a pluralistic approach to paradigmatic agency. It argues (...)
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  • Bare Personhood? Velleman on Selfhood.Catriona Mackenzie - 2007 - Philosophical Explorations 10 (3):263 – 282.
    In the Introduction to Self to Self, J. David Velleman claims that 'the word "self" does not denote any one entity but rather expresses a reflexive guise under which parts or aspects of a person are presented to his own mind' (Velleman 2006, 1). Velleman distinguishes three different reflexive guises of the self: the self of the person's self-image, or narrative self-conception; the self of self-sameness over time; and the self as autonomous agent. Velleman's account of each of these different (...)
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  • Can There Be a Global, Interesting, Coherent Constructivism About Practical Reason?David Enoch - 2009 - Philosophical Explorations 12 (3):319-339.
    More and more people seem to think that constructivism - in political philosophy, in moral philosophy, and perhaps in practical reasoning most generally - is the way to go. And yet it is surprisingly hard to even characterize the view. In this paper, I go to some lengths trying to capture the essence of a constructivist position - mostly in the realm of practical reason - and to pinpoint its theoretical attractions. I then give some reason to suspect that there (...)
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  • What Brentano Criticizes in Reid.Mark Textor - 2004 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 12 (1):75 – 92.
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  • Limited Engagements and Narrative Extensions.Daniel D. Hutto - 2008 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (3):419 – 444.
    E-approaches to the mind stress the embodied, embedded and enactive nature of mental phenomena. In their more radical, non-representational variants these approaches offer innovative and powerful new ways of understanding fundamental modes of intersubjective social interaction: I-approaches. While promising, E and I accounts have natural limits. In particular, they are unable to explain human competence in making sense of reasons for actions in folk-psychological terms. In this paper I outline the core features of the 'Narrative Practice Hypothesis' (NPH), showing how (...)
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  • Kant, Skepticism, and Moral Sensibility.Owen Ware - 2010 - Dissertation, University of Toronto
    In his early writings, Kant says that the solution to the puzzle of how morality can serve as a motivating force in human life is nothing less than the “philosophers’ stone.” In this dissertation I show that for years Kant searched for the philosophers’ stone in the concept of “respect” (Achtung), which he understood as the complex effect practical reason has on feeling. -/- I sketch the history of that search in Chapters 1-2. In Chapter 3 I show that Kant’s (...)
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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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  • What Ought Probably Means, and Why You Can’T Detach It.Stephen Finlay - 2010 - Synthese 177 (1):67 - 89.
    Some intuitive normative principles raise vexing 'detaching problems' by their failure to license modus ponens. I examine three such principles (a self-reliance principle and two different instrumental principles) and recent stategies employed to resolve their detaching problems. I show that solving these problems necessitates postulating an indefinitely large number of senses for 'ought'. The semantics for 'ought' that is standard in linguistics offers a unifying strategy for solving these problems, but I argue that an alternative approach combining an end-relational theory (...)
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  • The Norms of Acceptance.Joëlle Proust - 2012 - Philosophical Issues 22 (1):316-333.
    An area in the theory of action that has received little attention is how mental agency and world-directed agency interact. The purpose of the present contribution is to clarify the rational conditions of such interaction, through an analysis of the central case of acceptance. There are several problems with the literature about acceptance. First, it remains unclear how a context of acceptance is to be construed. Second, the possibility of conjoining, in acceptance, an epistemic component, which is essentially mind-to-world, and (...)
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  • The Obscurity of Internal Reasons.Stephen Finlay - 2009 - Philosophers' Imprint 9:1-22.
    Since its publication in 1979, Bernard Williams' "Internal and External Reasons" has been one of the most influential and widely discussed papers in ethics. I suggest here that the paper's argument has nevertheless been universally misunderstood. On the standard interpretation, his argument—which he subsequently elaborated and defended in further discussions—is perplexingly weak. In the first section I sketch this Standard (or, more provocatively, "Supposed") argument, and detail just how terrible it is. The badness of the argument itself may not be (...)
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