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Joshua Shepherd
Carleton University
  1. Consciousness and Morality.Joshua Shepherd & Neil Levy - forthcoming - In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
    It is well known that the nature of consciousness is elusive, and that attempts to understand it generate problems in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, psychology, and neuroscience. Less appreciated are the important – even if still elusive – connections between consciousness and issues in ethics. In this chapter we consider three such connections. First, we consider the relevance of consciousness for questions surrounding an entity’s moral status. Second, we consider the relevance of consciousness for questions surrounding moral responsibility for action. (...)
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  2. The Contours of Control.Joshua Shepherd - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 170 (3):395-411.
    Necessarily, if S lacks the ability to exercise control, S is not an agent. If S is not an agent, S cannot act intentionally, responsibly, or rationally, nor can S possess or exercise free will. In spite of the obvious importance of control, however, no general account of control exists. In this paper I reflect on the nature of control itself. I develop accounts of control ’s exercise and control ’s possession that illuminate what it is for degrees of control (...)
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  3. Conscious Control Over Action.Joshua Shepherd - 2015 - Mind and Language 30 (3):320-344.
    The extensive involvement of nonconscious processes in human behaviour has led some to suggest that consciousness is much less important for the control of action than we might think. In this article I push against this trend, developing an understanding of conscious control that is sensitive to our best models of overt action control. Further, I assess the cogency of various zombie challenges—challenges that seek to demote the importance of conscious control for human agency. I argue that though nonconscious contributions (...)
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  4. Consciousness, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility: Taking the Folk Seriously.Joshua Shepherd - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (7):929-946.
    In this paper, I offer evidence that folk views of free will and moral responsibility accord a central place to consciousness. In sections 2 and 3, I contrast action production via conscious states and processes with action in concordance with an agent's long-standing and endorsed motivations, values, and character traits. Results indicate that conscious action production is considered much more important for free will than is concordance with motivations, values, and character traits. In section 4, I contrast the absence of (...)
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  5. X-Phi and Carnapian Explication.Joshua Shepherd & James Justus - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (2):381-402.
    The rise of experimental philosophy has placed metaphilosophical questions, particularly those concerning concepts, at the center of philosophical attention. X-phi offers empirically rigorous methods for identifying conceptual content, but what exactly it contributes towards evaluating conceptual content remains unclear. We show how x-phi complements Rudolf Carnap’s underappreciated methodology for concept determination, explication. This clarifies and extends x-phi’s positive philosophical import, and also exhibits explication’s broad appeal. But there is a potential problem: Carnap’s account of explication was limited to empirical and (...)
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  6.  60
    Intelligent Action Guidance and the Use of Mixed Representational Formats.Joshua Shepherd - forthcoming - Synthese:1-20.
    My topic is the intelligent guidance of action. In this paper I offer an empirically grounded case for four ideas: that [a] cognitive processes of practical reasoning play a key role in the intelligent guidance of action, [b] these processes could not do so without significant enabling work done by both perception and the motor system, [c] the work done by perceptual and motor systems can be characterized as the generation of information (often conceptually structured information) specialized for action guidance, (...)
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  7. Conscious Action/Zombie Action.Joshua Shepherd - 2016 - Noûs 50 (2):419-444.
    I argue that the neural realizers of experiences of trying are not distinct from the neural realizers of actual trying . I then ask how experiences of trying might relate to the perceptual experiences one has while acting. First, I assess recent zombie action arguments regarding conscious visual experience, and I argue that contrary to what some have claimed, conscious visual experience plays a causal role for action control in some circumstances. Second, I propose a multimodal account of the experience (...)
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  8. Scientific Challenges to Free Will and Moral Responsibility.Joshua Shepherd - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (3):197-207.
    Here, I review work from three lines of research in cognitive science often taken to threaten free will and moral responsibility. This work concerns conscious deciding, the experience of acting, and the role of largely unnoticed situational influences on behavior. Whether this work in fact threatens free will and moral responsibility depends on how we ought to interpret it, and depends as well on the nature of free and responsible behavior. I discuss different ways this work has been interpreted and (...)
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  9. The Apparent Illusion of Conscious Deciding.Joshua Shepherd - 2013 - Philosophical Explorations 16 (1):18 - 30.
    Recent work in cognitive science suggests that conscious thought plays a much less central role in the production of human behavior than most think. Partially on the basis of this work, Peter Carruthers has advanced the claim that humans never consciously decide to act. This claim is of independent interest for action theory, and its potential truth poses a problem for theories of free will and autonomy, which often take our capacity to consciously decide to be of central importance. In (...)
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  10. The Moral Insignificance of Self‐Consciousness.Joshua Shepherd - 2016 - European Journal of Philosophy 24 (4).
    In this paper, I examine the claim that self-consciousness is highly morally significant, such that the fact that an entity is self-conscious generates strong moral reasons against harming or killing that entity. This claim is apparently very intuitive, but I argue it is false. I consider two ways to defend this claim: one indirect, the other direct. The best-known arguments relevant to self-consciousness's significance take the indirect route. I examine them and argue that in various ways they depend on unwarranted (...)
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  11.  57
    Intending, Believing, and Supposing at Will.Joshua Shepherd - 2018 - Ratio 31 (3):321-330.
    In this paper I consider an argument for the possibility of intending at will, and its relationship to an argument about the possibility of believing at will. I argue that although we have good reason to think we sometimes intend at will, we lack good reason to think this in the case of believing. Instead of believing at will, agents like us often suppose at will.
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  12. Causation, Norms, and Omissions: A Study of Causal Judgments.Randolph Clarke, Joshua Shepherd, John Stigall, Robyn Repko Waller & Chris Zarpentine - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (2):279-293.
    Many philosophical theories of causation are egalitarian, rejecting a distinction between causes and mere causal conditions. We sought to determine the extent to which people's causal judgments discriminate, selecting as causes counternormal events—those that violate norms of some kind—while rejecting non-violators. We found significant selectivity of this sort. Moreover, priming that encouraged more egalitarian judgments had little effect on subjects. We also found that omissions are as likely as actions to be judged as causes, and that counternormative selectivity appears to (...)
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  13.  39
    The Experience of Acting and the Structure of Consciousness.Joshua Shepherd - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (8):422-448.
    I offer an account of the experience of acting that demonstrates how agentive aspects of experience associated with the execution of intentions are richly integrated with perceptual aspects associated with parts of action taking place in the publicly observable world. On the view I elucidate, the experience of acting is often both an engagement with the world and a type of intimate acquaintance with it. In conscious action the agent consciously intervenes in the world and consciously experiences the world she (...)
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  14. Causalism and Intentional Omission.Joshua Shepherd - 2014 - American Philosophical Quarterly 51 (1):15-26.
    It is natural to think that at root, agents are beings that act. Agents do more than this, however – agents omit to act. Sometimes agents do so intentionally. How should we understand intentional omission? Recent accounts of intentional omission have given causation a central theoretical role. The move is well-motivated. If some form of causalism about intentional omission can successfully exploit similarities between action and omission, it might inherit the broad support causalism about intentional action enjoys. In this paper (...)
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  15. More Dead Than Dead? Attributing Mentality to Vegetative State Patients.Anil Gomes, Matthew Parrott & Joshua Shepherd - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (1):84-95.
    In a recent paper, Gray, Knickman, and Wegner present three experiments which they take to show that people perceive patients in a persistent vegetative state to have less mentality than the dead. Following on from Gomes and Parrott, we provide evidence to show that participants' responses in the initial experiments are an artifact of the questions posed. Results from two experiments show that, once the questions have been clarified, people do not ascribe more mental capacity to the dead than to (...)
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  16. Moral Conflict in the Minimally Conscious State.Joshua Shepherd - 2016 - In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Finding Consciousness: The Neuroscience, Ethics, and Law of Severe Brain Damage. Oxford University Press. pp. 160-179.
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  17. Why Block Can't Stand the HOT.Joshua Shepherd - 2013 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 20 (3-4):183-195.
    Ned Block has recently pressed a new criticism of the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness. HOT proponents have responded in turn. The exchange affords a chance to find some clarity concerning the essential commitments of HOT, as well as a chance to find clarity on the issues that divide Block and HOT proponents. In this paper I discuss the recent exchange, and I draw some lessons. First, I side with HOT proponents in arguing that new criticism presents no new (...)
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  18. The Folk Psychological Roots of Free Will.Joshua Shepherd - 2017 - In David Rose (ed.), Experimental Metaphysics. Bloomsbury Academic.
    First, what are the psychological roots of our concept of free will? Second, how might progress on the first question contribute to progress regarding normative debates about the proper concept of free will? In sections two and three I address the first question. Section two discusses recent work in the experimental philosophy of free will, and motivates the study I report in section three. Section four reflects on the second question in light of the reported results. To preview, the results (...)
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  19. Argumente für die naturaliste Erkenntnistheorie.Joshua Shepherd & Michael Bishop - 2015 - In Stefan Tolksdorf & Dirk Koppleberg (eds.), Erkenntnistheorie: Wie und Wozu? Mentis Publishers. pp. 245-274.
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  20. Agentive Phenomenology.Myrto Mylopoulos & Joshua Shepherd - forthcoming - In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
    In this chapter we reflect on questions about the nature and sources of agentive phenomenology – that is, the set of those experience-types associated with exercises of agency, and paradigmatically with intentional actions. Our discussion begins with pioneering work in psychology and neuroscience that dates to the early 80s (section 1). As we will see, much of the current work on agentive phenomenology in both psychology and philosophy draws motivation from this work, and the questions it raises. After discussing empirical (...)
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  21.  77
    Kriegel on the Phenomenology of Action.Joshua Shepherd - 2016 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 7 (2):264-272.
    : I focus on Uriah Kriegel’s account of conative phenomenology. I agree with Kriegel’s argument that some conative phenomenology is primitive in that some conative phenomenal properties cannot be reduced to another kind of property. I disagree, however, with Kriegel’s specific characterization of the properties in question. Kriegel argues that the experience of deciding-and-then-trying is the core of conative phenomenology. I argue, however, that the experiences of trying and acting better occupy this place. Further, I suggest that the attitudinal component (...)
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  22.  73
    Neuroscientific Threats to Free Will.Joshua Shepherd - forthcoming - In Meghan Griffith, Kevin Timpe & Neil Levy (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Free Will. Routledge.
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  23. Minimizing Harm Via Psychological Intervention: Response to Glannon.Joshua Shepherd - 2014 - Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (10):662-663.
    In a recent discussion, Walter Glannon discusses a number of ways we might try to minimize harm to patients who experience intraoperative awareness. In this response I direct attention to a possibility that deserves further attention. It might be that a kind of psychological intervention – namely, informing patients of the possibility of intraoperative awareness and of what to expect in such a case – would constitute a unique way to respect patient autonomy, as well as minimize the harm that (...)
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