•  828
    Hobbes and normative egoism
    Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 97 (4): 481-512. 2015.
    Is Hobbes a normative egoist? That is: does Hobbes think that an agent’s normative reasons are all grounded in her own good? A once-dominant tradition of Hobbes scholarship answers ‘yes’. In an important recent work, however, S.A. Lloyd has argued that the answer to the question is ‘no’, and built an alternative non-egoistic interpretation of Hobbes that stresses reciprocity and mutual justifiability. My aim in this paper is to articulate and defend an original ‘middle way’ interpretation of Hob…Read more
  •  739
    In this paper, I defend the view that it is wrong for us to consume only, or overwhelmingly, media that broadly aligns with our own political viewpoints: that is, it is wrong to be politically “partisan” in our decisions about what media to consume. We are obligated to consume media that aligns with political viewpoints other than our own – to “diversify our sources”. This is so even if our own views are, as a matter of fact, substantively correct.
  •  707
    Possibly false knowledge
    Journal of Philosophy 112 (5): 225-246. 2015.
    Many epistemologists call themselves ‘fallibilists’. But many philosophers of language hold that the meaning of epistemic usages of ‘possible’ ensures a close knowledge- possibility link : a subject’s utterance of ‘it’s possible that not-p’ is true only if the subject does not know that p. This seems to suggest that whatever the core insight behind fallibilism is, it can’t be that a subject could have knowledge which is, for them, possibly false. I argue that, on the contrary, subjects can have …Read more
  •  695
    Disagreement is a hot topic in epistemology. A fast-growing literature centers around a dispute between the ‘steadfast’ view, on which one may maintain one’s beliefs even in the light of disagreement with epistemic peers who have all the same evidence, and the ‘conciliationist’ view, on which such disagreement requires a revision of attitudes. In this paper, however, I argue that there is less separating the main rivals in the debate about peer disagreement than is commonly thought. The extreme …Read more
  •  479
    We offer a new argument in favour of metanormative contextualism, the thesis that the semantic value of a normative ‘ought’ claim of the form ‘ S ought to Φ’ depends on the value of one or more parameters whose values vary in a way that is determined by the context of utterance. The debate over this contextualist thesis has centred on cases that involve ‘ought’ claims made in the face of uncertainty regarding certain descriptive facts. Contextualists, relativists, and invariantists all have plau…Read more
  •  464
    The Conflict of Evidence and Coherence
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (1): 3-44. 2018.
    For many epistemologists, and for many philosophers more broadly, it is axiomatic that rationality requires you to take the doxastic attitudes that your evidence supports. Yet there is also another current in our talk about rationality. On this usage, rationality is a matter of the right kind of coherence between one's mental attitudes. Surprisingly little work in epistemology is explicitly devoted to answering the question of how these two currents of talk are related. But many implicitly assum…Read more
  •  438
    Which Reasons? Which Rationality?
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    The slogan that rationality is about responding to reasons has a turbulent history: once taken for granted; then widely rejected; now enjoying a resurgence. The slogan is made harder to assess by an ever-increasing plethora of distinctions pertaining to reasons and rationality. Here we are occupied with two such distinctions: that between subjective and objective reasons, and that between structural rationality (a.k.a. coherence) and substantive rationality (a.k.a. reasonableness). Our paper has…Read more
  •  422
    Eliminating Prudential Reasons
    Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 8 236-257. 2018.
    I argue, contrary to the consensus of most contemporary work in ethics, that there are no (fundamentally, distinctively) prudential reasons for action. That is to say: there is no class of reasons for action that is distinctively and fundamentally about the promotion of the agent’s own well-being. Considerations to do with the agent’s well-being can supply the agent with reasons only in virtue of her well-being mattering morally or in virtue of her caring about her own well-being. In both of the…Read more
  •  407
    Explanatory Indispensability and Deliberative Indispensability: Against Enoch's Analogy
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (4): 226-235. 2016.
    In this note, I discuss David Enoch's influential deliberative indispensability argument for metanormative realism, and contend that the argument fails. In doing so, I uncover an important disanalogy between explanatory indispensability arguments and deliberative indispensability arguments, one that explains how we could accept the former without accepting the latter.
  •  386
    What is (In)coherence?
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 13 184-206. 2018.
    Recent work on rationality has been increasingly attentive to “coherence requirements”, with heated debates about both the content of such requirements and their normative status (e.g., whether there is necessarily reason to comply with them). Yet there is little to no work on the metanormative status of coherence requirements. Metaphysically: what is it for two or more mental states to be jointly incoherent, such that they are banned by a coherence requirement? In virtue of what are some putati…Read more
  •  363
    ‘Ought’-contextualism beyond the parochial
    Philosophical Studies 176 (11): 3099-3119. 2019.
    Despite increasing prominence, ‘ought’-contextualism is regarded with suspicion by most metaethicists. As I’ll argue, however, contextualism is a very weak claim, that every metaethicist can sign up to. The real controversy concerns how contextualism is developed. I then draw an oft-overlooked distinction between “parochial” contextualism—on which the contextually-relevant standards are those that the speaker, or others in her environment, subscribe to—and “aspirational” contextualism—on which t…Read more
  •  301
    What to believe about your belief that you're in the good case
    Oxford Studies in Epistemology 6 206-233. 2019.
    Going about our daily lives in an orderly manner requires us, once we are aware of them, to dismiss many metaphysical possibilities. We take it for granted that we are not brains in vats, or living in the Matrix, or in an extended dream. Call these things that we take for granted “anti-skeptical assumptions”. What should a reflective agent who believes these things think of these beliefs? For various reasons, it can seem that we do not have evidence for such anti-skeptical assumptions. Are anti-…Read more
  •  285
    Moral reasons, epistemic reasons, and rationality
    Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263): 341-361. 2016.
    It is standard, both in the philosophical literature and in ordinary parlance, to assume that one can fall short of responding to all one’s moral reasons without being irrational. Yet when we turn to epistemic reasons, the situation could not be more different. Most epistemologists take it as axiomatic that for a belief to be rational is for it to be well-supported by epistemic reasons. We find ourselves with a striking asymmetry, then, between the moral and epistemic domains concerning what is …Read more
  •  278
    Isolating Correct Reasoning
    In Magdalena Balcerak Jackson & Brendan Balcerak Jackson (eds.), Reasoning: New Essays on Theoretical and Practical Thinking, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    This paper tries to do three things. First, it tries to make it plausible that correct rules of reasoning do not always preserve justification: in other words, if you begin with a justified attitude, and reason correctly from that premise, it can nevertheless happen that you’ll nevertheless arrive at an unjustified attitude. Attempts to show that such cases in fact involve following an incorrect rule of reasoning cannot be vindicated. Second, it also argues that correct rules of reasoning do not…Read more
  •  269
    At the heart of John Broome’s research program in the philosophy of normativity is a distinction between reasons, on one hand, and requirements of rationality, on the other. I am a friend of Broome’s view that this distinction is deep and important, and that neither notion can be analyzed in terms of the other. However, I also think there are major challenges that this view is yet to meet. In the first part of the paper, I’ll raise four such challenges, and programmatically indicate how I think …Read more
  •  259
    Is There a Distinctively Political Normativity?
    with Jonathan Leader Maynard
    Ethics 128 (4): 756-787. 2018.
    A slew of recent political theorists—many taking their cue from the political writings of Bernard Williams—have recently contended that political normativity is its own kind of normativity, distinct from moral normativity. In this article, we first attempt to clarify what this claim amounts to and then reconstruct and interrogate five major arguments for it. We contend that all these arguments are unconvincing and fail to establish a sense in which political normativity is genuinely separate fro…Read more
  •  258
    Belief, Credence, and the Preface Paradox
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3): 549-562. 2016.
    ABSTRACTMany discussions of the ‘preface paradox’ assume that it is more troubling for deductive closure constraints on rational belief if outright belief is reducible to credence. I show that this is an error: we can generate the problem without assuming such reducibility. All that we need are some very weak normative assumptions about rational relationships between belief and credence. The only view that escapes my way of formulating the problem for the deductive closure constraint is in fact …Read more
  •  255
    Immorality and Irrationality
    Philosophical Perspectives 33 (1): 220-253. 2019.
    Does immorality necessarily involve irrationality? The question is often taken to be among the deepest in moral philosophy. But apparently deep questions sometimes admit of deflationary answers. In this case we can make way for a deflationary answer by appealing to dualism about rationality, according to which there are two fundamentally distinct notions of rationality: structural rationality and substantive rationality. I have defended dualism elsewhere. Here, I’ll argue that it allows us to em…Read more
  •  236
    Contextualism and Knowledge Norms
    In Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism, Routledge. pp. 177-189. 2017.
    I provide an opinionated overview of the literature on the relationship of contextualism to knowledge norms for action, assertion, and belief. I point out that contextualists about ‘knows’ are precluded from accepting the simplest versions of knowledge norms; they must, if they are to accept knowledge norms at all, accept “relativized” versions of them. I survey arguments from knowledge norms both for and against contextualism, tentatively concluding that commitment to knowledge norms does not c…Read more
  •  210
    Two Kinds of Stakes
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (3): 307-324. 2015.
    I distinguish two different kinds of practical stakes associated with propositions. The W-stakes track what is at stake with respect to whether the proposition is true or false. The A-stakes track what is at stake with respect to whether an agent believes the proposition. This poses a dilemma for those who claim that whether a proposition is known can depend on the stakes associated with it. Only the W-stakes reading of this view preserves intuitions about knowledge-attributions, but only the A-…Read more
  •  176
    Can Pragmatists Be Moderate?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (3): 531-558. 2021.
    In discussions of whether and how pragmatic considerations can make a difference to what one ought to believe, two sets of cases feature. The first set, which dominates the debate about pragmatic reasons for belief, is exemplified by cases of being financially bribed to believe (or withhold from believing) something. The second set, which dominates the debate about pragmatic encroachment on epistemic justification, is exemplified by cases where acting on a belief rashly risks some disastrous out…Read more
  •  151
    Cryptonormative Judgments
    European Journal of Philosophy 25 (1): 3-24. 2017.
    A cryptonormative judgment, roughly speaking, is a judgment that is presented by the agent who makes it as non-normative, but that is in fact normative. The idea of cryptonormativity is familiar from debates in social theory, social psychology, and continental political philosophy, but has to my knowledge never been treated in analytic metaethics, moral psychology or epistemology except in passing. In this paper, I argue, first, that cryptonormative judgments are pervasive: familiar cases from e…Read more
  •  142
    Narrow-Scoping for Wide-Scopers
    Synthese 192 (8): 2617-2646. 2015.
    Many philosophers think that requirements of rationality are “wide-scope”. That is to say: they are requirements to satisfy some material conditional, such that one counts as satisfying the requirement iff one either makes the conditional’s antecedent false or makes its consequent true. These contrast with narrow-scope requirements, where the requirement takes scope only over the consequent of the conditional. Many of the philosophers who have preferred wide-scope requirements to narrow-scope re…Read more
  •  135
    IIA, rationality, and the individuation of options
    with Tina Rulli
    Philosophical Studies 173 (1): 205-221. 2016.
    The independence of irrelevant alternatives is a popular and important axiom of decision theory. It states, roughly, that one’s choice from a set of options should not be influenced by the addition or removal of further, unchosen options. In recent debates, a number of authors have given putative counterexamples to it, involving intuitively rational agents who violate IIA. Generally speaking, however, these counterexamples do not tend to move IIA’s proponents. Their strategy tends to be to indiv…Read more
  •  121
    The Skeptic and the Climate Change Skeptic
    In Michael Hannon & Jeroen de Ridder (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology, Routledge. forthcoming.
    Outside the philosophy classroom, global skeptics – skeptics about all (purported) knowledge of the external world – are rare. But there are people who describe themselves as “skeptics” about various more specific domains, including self-professed “skeptics” about the reality of anthropogenic climate change. There is little to no philosophical literature that juxtaposes the climate change skeptic with the external world skeptic. While many “traditional” epistemologists assume that the external w…Read more
  •  112
    This paper offers a new account of how structural rationality, or coherence, is normative. The central challenge to the normativity of coherence – which I term the problem of “making space” for the normativity of coherence – is this: if considerations of coherence matter normatively, it is not clear how we ought to take account of them in our deliberation. Coherence considerations don’t seem to show up in reasoning about what to believe, intend, desire, hope, fear, and so on; moreover, they seem…Read more
  •  94
    Disagreement as Interpersonal Incoherence
    Res Philosophica 96 (2): 245-268. 2019.
    In a narrow sense of ‘disagreement,’ you and I disagree iff we believe inconsistent propositions. But there are numerous cases not covered by this definition that seem to constitute disagreements in a wider sense: disagreements about what to do, disagreements in attitude, disagreements in credence, etc. This wider sense of disagreement plays an important role in metaethics and epistemology. But what is it to disagree in the wider sense? On the view I’ll defend, roughly, you and I disagree in the…Read more
  •  62
    Evidence-Coherence Conflicts Revisited
    In Nick Hughes (ed.), Epistemic Dilemmas, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    There are at least two different aspects of our rational evaluation of agents’ doxastic attitudes. First, we evaluate these attitudes according to whether they are supported by one’s evidence (substantive rationality). Second, we evaluate these attitudes according to how well they cohere with one another (structural rationality). In previous work, I’ve argued that substantive and structural rationality really are distinct, sui generis, kinds of rationality – call this view ‘dualism’, as opposed …Read more
  •  54
    Philosophical Studies. forthcoming.