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Samuel Murray
Duke University
  1. Vigilance and Control.Samuel Murray & Manuel Vargas - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):825-843.
    We sometimes fail unwittingly to do things that we ought to do. And we are, from time to time, culpable for these unwitting omissions. We provide an outline of a theory of responsibility for unwitting omissions. We emphasize two distinctive ideas: (i) many unwitting omissions can be understood as failures of appropriate vigilance, and; (ii) the sort of self-control implicated in these failures of appropriate vigilance is valuable. We argue that the norms that govern vigilance and the value of self-control (...)
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  2. Responsibility and Vigilance.Samuel Murray - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (2):507-527.
    My primary target in this paper is a puzzle that emerges from the conjunction of several seemingly innocent assumptions in action theory and the metaphysics of moral responsibility. The puzzle I have in mind is this. On one widely held account of moral responsibility, an agent is morally responsible only for those actions or outcomes over which that agent exercises control. Recently, however, some have cited cases where agents appear to be morally responsible without exercising any control. This leads some (...)
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  3. What’s Inside is All That Counts? The Contours of Everyday Thinking About Self-Control.Juan Pablo Bermúdez, Samuel Murray, Louis Chartrand & Sergio Barbosa - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-23.
    Does self-control require willpower? The question cuts to the heart of a debate about whether self-control is identical with some psychological process internal to the agents or not. Noticeably absent from these debates is systematic evidence about the folk-psychological category of self-control. Here, we present the results of two behavioral studies (N = 296) that indicate the structure of everyday thinking about self-control. In Study 1, participants rated the degree to which different strategies to respond to motivational conflict exemplify self-control. (...)
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  4. Attention Need Not Always Apply: Mind Wandering Impedes Explicit but Not Implicit Sequence Learning.Samuel Murray, Nicholaus Brosowsky, Jonathan Schooler & Paul Seli - 2021 - Cognition 209:104530.
    According to the attentional resources account, mind wandering (or “task-unrelated thought”) is thought to compete with a focal task for attentional resources. Here, we tested two key predictions of this account: First, that mind wandering should not interfere with performance on a task that does not require attentional resources; second, that as task requirements become automatized, performance should improve and depth of mind wandering should increase. Here, we used a serial reaction time task with implicit- and explicit-learning groups to test (...)
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  5. Responsibility for Forgetting.Samuel Murray, Elise D. Murray, Gregory Stewart, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Felipe De Brigard - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (5):1177-1201.
    In this paper, we focus on whether and to what extent we judge that people are responsible for the consequences of their forgetfulness. We ran a series of behavioral studies to measure judgments of responsibility for the consequences of forgetfulness. Our results show that we are disposed to hold others responsible for some of their forgetfulness. The level of stress that the forgetful agent is under modulates judgments of responsibility, though the level of care that the agent exhibits toward performing (...)
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  6. The Place of the Trace: Negligence and Responsibility.Samuel Murray - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (1):39-52.
    One popular theory of moral responsibility locates responsible agency in exercises of control. These control-based theories often appeal to tracing to explain responsibility in cases where some agent is intuitively responsible for bringing about some outcome despite lacking direct control over that outcome’s obtaining. Some question whether control-based theories are committed to utilizing tracing to explain responsibility in certain cases. I argue that reflecting on certain kinds of negligence shows that tracing plays an ineliminable role in any adequate control-based theory (...)
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  7. Can the Mind Wander Intentionally?Samuel Murray & Kristina Krasich - 2022 - Mind and Language 37 (3):432-443.
    Mind wandering is typically operationalized as task-unrelated thought. Some argue for the need to distinguish between unintentional and intentional mind wandering, where an agent voluntarily shifts attention from task-related to task-unrelated thoughts. We reveal an inconsistency between the standard, task-unrelated thought definition of mind wandering and the occurrence of intentional mind wandering (together with plausible assumptions about tasks and intentions). This suggests that either the standard definition of mind wandering should be rejected or that intentional mind wandering is an incoherent (...)
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  8. Mental Control and Attributions of Blame for Negligent Wrongdoing.Samuel Murray, Kristina Krasich, Zachary C. Irving, Thomas Nadelhoffer & Felipe De Brigard - forthcoming - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
    Judgments of blame for others are typically sensitive to what an agent knows and desires. However, when people act negligently, they do not know what they are doing and do not desire the outcomes of their negligence. How, then, do people attribute blame for negligent wrongdoing? We propose that people attribute blame for negligent wrongdoing based on perceived mental control, or the degree to which an agent guides their thoughts and attention over time. To acquire information about others’ mental control, (...)
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  9.  52
    Thought Dynamics Under Task Demands.Nick Brosowsky, Samuel Murray, Jonathan Schooler & Paul Seli - forthcoming - Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.
    As research on mind wandering has accelerated, the construct’s defining features have expanded and researchers have begun to examine different dimensions of mind wandering. Recently, Christoff and colleagues have argued for the importance of investigating a hitherto neglected variety of mind wandering: “unconstrained thought,” or, thought that is relatively unguided by executive-control processes. To date, with only a handful of studies investigating unconstrained thought, little is known about this intriguing type of mind wandering. Across two experiments, we examined, for the (...)
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  10. These Confabulations Are Guaranteed to Improve Your Marriage! Toward a Teleological Theory of Confabulation.Samuel Murray & Peter Finocchiaro - 2020 - Synthese 198 (11):10313-10339.
    Confabulation is typically understood to be dysfunctional. But this understanding neglects the phenomenon’s potential benefits. In fact, we think that the benefits of non-clinical confabulation provide a better foundation for a general account of confabulation. In this paper, we start from these benefits to develop a social teleological account of confabulation. Central to our account is the idea that confabulation manifests a kind of willful ignorance. By understanding confabulation in this way, we can provide principled explanations for the difference between (...)
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  11.  51
    The Catch-22 of Forgetfulness: Responsibility for Mental Mistakes.Zachary C. Irving, Samuel Murray, Aaron Glasser & Kristina Krasich - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    Attribution theorists assume that character information informs judgments of blame. But there is disagreement over why. One camp holds that character information is a fundamental determinant of blame. Another camp holds that character information merely provides evidence about the mental states and processes that determine responsibility. We argue for a two-channel view, where character simultaneously has fundamental and evidential effects on blame. In two large factorial studies (n = 495), participants rate whether someone is blameworthy when he makes a mistake (...)
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  12. Reference Fiction, and Omission.Samuel Murray - 2018 - Synthese 195 (1):235-257.
    In this paper, I argue that sentences that contain ‘omission’ tokens that appear to function as singular terms are meaningful while maintaining the view that omissions are nothing at all or mere absences. I take omissions to be fictional entities and claim that the way in which sentences about fictional characters are true parallels the way in which sentences about omissions are true. I develop a pragmatic account of fictional reference and argue that my fictionalist account of omissions implies a (...)
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  13. What Are the Benefits of Mind Wandering to Creativity?Samuel Murray, Nathan Liang, Nick Brosowsky & Paul Seli - forthcoming - Psychology of Creativity, Aesthetics, and the Arts.
    A primary aim of mind-wandering research has been to understand its influence on task performance. While this research has typically highlighted the costs of mind wandering, a handful of studies have suggested that mind wandering may be beneficial in certain situations. Perhaps the most-touted benefit is that mind wandering during a creative-incubation interval facilitates creative thinking. This finding has played a critical role in the development of accounts of the adaptive value of mind wandering and its functional role, as well (...)
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  14.  40
    Do People Understand Determinism? The Tracking Problem for Measuring Free Will Beliefs.Samuel Murray, Elise Dykhuis & Thomas Nadelhoffer - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy.
    Experimental work on free will typically relies on deterministic stimuli to elicit judgments of free will. We call this the Vignette-Judgment model. We outline a problem with research based on this model. It seems that people either fail to respond to the deterministic aspects of vignettes when making judgments or that their understanding of determinism differs from researcher expectations. We provide some empirical evidence for this claim. In the end, we argue that people seem to lack facility with the concept (...)
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  15. The Scientific Study of Passive Thinking: Methods of Mind Wandering Research.Samuel Murray, Zachary C. Irving & Kristina Krasich - 2022 - In Felipe De Brigard & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (eds.), Neuroscience and Philosophy. Cambridge: MIT Press. pp. 389-426.
    The science of mind wandering has rapidly expanded over the past 20 years. During this boom, mind wandering researchers have relied on self-report methods, where participants rate whether their minds were wandering. This is not an historical quirk. Rather, we argue that self-report is indispensable for researchers who study passive phenomena like mind wandering. We consider purportedly “objective” methods that measure mind wandering with eye tracking and machine learning. These measures are validated in terms of how well they predict self-reports, (...)
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  16. What's in a Task? Complications in the Study of the Task-Unrelated-Thought (TUT) Variety of Mind Wandering.Samuel Murray, Kristina Krasich, Jonathan Schooler & Paul Seli - unknown - Perspectives on Psychological Science:1-50.
    In recent years, the number of studies examining mind wandering has increased considerably, and research on the topic has spread widely across various domains of psychological research. Although the term “mind wandering” has been used to refer to various cognitive states, researchers typically operationalize mind wandering in terms of “task-unrelated thought” (TUT). Research on TUT has shed light on the various task features that require people’s attention, and on the consequences of task inattention. Important methodological and conceptual complications do persist, (...)
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  17. Intuitions About Free Will and the Failure to Comprehend Determinism.Thomas Nadelhoffer, Samuel Murray & Elise Dykhuis - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-22.
    Theories of free will are often measured against how well they capture everyday intuitions about free will. But what are these everyday intuitions, and what theoretical commitments do they express? Empirical methods have delivered mixed messages. In response, some free will theorists have developed error theories to undermine the credentials of countervailing intuitions. These efforts are predicated on the idea that people might misunderstand determinism in any of several ways. This paper sheds light on the comprehension problem. We first discuss (...)
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  18.  72
    The Impact of Error-Consequence Severity on Cue Processing in Importance-Biased Prospective Memory.Kristina Krasich, Eva Gjorgieva, Samuel Murray, Shreya Bhatia, Myrthe Faber, Felipe De Brigard & Marty Woldorff - forthcoming - Cerebral Cortex Communications.
    Prospective memory (PM) enables people to remember to complete important tasks in the future. Failing to do so can result in consequences of varying severity. Here, we investigated how PM error-consequence severity impacts the neural processing of relevant cues for triggering PM and the ramification of that processing on the associated prospective task performance. Participants role-played a cafeteria worker serving lunches to fictitious students and had to remember to deliver an alternative lunch to students (as PM cues) who would otherwise (...)
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  19. Piercing the Smoke Screen: Dualism, Free Will, and Christianity.Samuel Murray, Elise Dykhuis & Thomas Nadelhoffer - forthcoming - Journal of Cognition and Culture.
    Research on the folk psychology of free will suggests that people believe free will is incompatible with determinism and that human decision-making cannot be exhaustively characterized by physical processes. Some suggest that certain elements of Western cultural history, especially Christianity, have helped to entrench these beliefs in the folk conceptual economy. Thus, on the basis of this explanation, one should expect to find three things: (1) a significant correlation between belief in dualism and belief in free will, (2) that people (...)
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  20. O’Connor’s Argument for Indeterminism.Samuel Murray - 2016 - Philosophical Explorations 19 (3):268-275.
    Timothy O’Connor has recently defended a version of libertarianism that has significant advantages over similar accounts. One of these is an argument that secures indeterminism on the basis of an argument that shows how causal determinism threatens agency in virtue of the nature of the causal relation involved in free acts. In this paper, I argue that while it does turn out that free acts are not causally determined on O’Connor’s view, this fact is merely stipulative and the argument that (...)
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  21. Michael Frede's "The Aristotelian Theory of the Agent Intellect" [Translation].Samuel Murray - manuscript
    This is a rough translation of Michael Frede's "La théorie aristotélicienne de l'intellect agent" published in 1996. This insightful paper contains an important interpretation of Aristotle's notoriously difficult theory of the active intellect from De Anima III, 5. I worked up a translation during some research and thought others might benefit from having an English translation available (I couldn't find one after a cursory internet search). It's not perfect, but it should give one a sense for Frede's argument that the (...)
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