•  33
    Philosophers, psychologists, and economists have reached the consensus that one can use two different kinds of regulation to achieve self-control. Synchronic regulation uses willpower to resist current temptation. Diachronic regulation implements a plan to avoid future temptation. Yet this consensus may rest on contaminated intuitions. Specifically, agents typically use willpower (synchronic regulation) to achieve their plans to avoid temptation (diachronic regulation). So even if cases of diach…Read more
  •  305
    According to a standard picture of agency, a person’s actions always reflect what they most desire, and many theorists extend this model to mental illness. In this chapter, I pin down exactly where this “volitional” view goes wrong. The key is to recognize that human motivational architecture involves a regulatory control structure: we have both spontaneous states (e.g., automatically-elicited thoughts and action tendencies, etc.) as well as regulatory mechanisms that allow us to suppress or mod…Read more
  •  25
    What Does “Mind‐Wandering” Mean to the Folk? An Empirical Investigation
    with Zachary C. Irving, Aaron Glasser, Alison Gopnik, and Verity Pinter
    Cognitive Science 44 (10). 2020.
    Although mind‐wandering research is rapidly progressing, stark disagreements are emerging about what the term “mind‐wandering” means. Four prominent views define mind‐wandering as task‐unrelated thought, stimulus‐independent thought, unintentional thought, or dynamically unguided thought. Although theorists claim to capture the ordinary understanding of mind‐wandering, no systematic studies have assessed these claims. Two large factorial studies present participants with vignettes that describe …Read more
  •  108
    The atoms of self‐control
    Noûs. forthcoming.
  •  200
    Although mind-wandering research is rapidly progressing, stark disagreements are emerging about what the term “mind-wandering” means. Four prominent views define mind-wandering as 1) task-unrelated thought, 2) stimulus-independent thought, 3) unintentional thought, or 4) dynamically unguided thought. Although theorists claim to capture the ordinary understanding of mind-wandering, no systematic studies have assessed these claims. Two large factorial studies present participants (n=545) with vign…Read more
  •  21
    The fallibility paradox
    Social Philosophy and Policy 36 (1): 234-248. 2019.
    :Reasons-responsiveness theories of moral responsibility are currently among the most popular. Here, I present the fallibility paradox, a novel challenge to these views. The paradox involves an agent who is performing a somewhat demanding psychological task across an extended sequence of trials and who is deeply committed to doing her very best at this task. Her action-issuing psychological processes are outstandingly reliable, so she meets the criterion of being reasons-responsive on every sing…Read more
  •  22
    Acting from the Gut: Responsibility without Awareness
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (7-8): 37-48. 2015.
  •  93
    Addiction and Fallibility
    Journal of Philosophy 115 (11): 569-587. 2018.
    There is an ongoing debate about loss of control in addiction: Some theorists say at least some addicts’ drug-directed desires are irresistible, while others insist that pursuing drugs is a choice. The debate is long-standing and has essentially reached a stalemate. This essay suggests a way forward. I propose an alternative model of loss of control in addiction, one based not on irresistibility, but rather fallibility. According to the model, on every occasion of use, self-control processes exh…Read more
  •  199
    A Framework for the Psychology of Norms
    In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind, Volume 2: Culture and Cognition, Oxford University Press. 2006.
    Humans are unique in the animal world in the extent to which their day-to-day behavior is governed by a complex set of rules and principles commonly called norms. Norms delimit the bounds of proper behavior in a host of domains, providing an invisible web of normative structure embracing virtually all aspects of social life. People also find many norms to be deeply meaningful. Norms give rise to powerful subjective feelings that, in the view of many, are an important part of what it is to be a h…Read more
  •  121
    Punishment and the strategic structure of moral systems
    Biology and Philosophy 20 (4). 2005.
    The problem of moral compliance is the problem of explaining how moral norms are sustained over extented stretches of time despite the existence of selfish evolutionary incentives that favor their violation. There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of solutions that have been offered to the problem of moral compliance, the reciprocity-based account and the punishment-based account. In this paper, I argue that though the reciprocity-based account has been widely endorsed by evolutionary theorists, …Read more
  •  80
    Adaptationism, Culture, and the Malleability of Human Nature
    In Peter Caruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind, Volume 3, Oxford University Press. 2008.
    It is often thought that if an adaptationist explanation of some behavioural phenomenon is true, then this fact shows that a culturist explanation of the very same phenomenon is false, or else the adaptationist explanation preempts or crowds out the culturist explanation in some way. This chapter shows why this so-called competition thesis is misguided. Two evolutionary models are identified — the Information Learning Model and the Strategic Learning Model — which show that adaptationist reasoni…Read more
  •  99
    Review of Morton's The importance of being understood: Folk psychology as ethics (review)
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (2). 2004.
    Book Information The Importance of Being Understood: Folk Psychology as Ethics. The Importance of Being Understood: Folk Psychology as Ethics Adam Morton , London; New York: Routledge , 2002 , 240 , US$95 ( cloth ), US$29.95 ( paper ) By Adam Morton. London; New York: Routledge. Pp. 240. US$95 (cloth:), US$29.95 (paper:).
  •  79
    Free will and the construction of options
    Philosophical Studies 173 (11): 2913-2933. 2016.
    What are the distinctive psychological features that explain why humans are free, but many other creatures, such as simple animals, are not? It is natural to think that the answer has something to do with unique human capacities for decision-making. Philosophical discussions of how decision-making works, however, are tellingly incomplete. In particular, these discussions invariably presuppose an agent who has a mentally represented set of options already fully in hand. The emphasis is largely on…Read more
  •  156
    The Philosophy of psychology
    with Kelby Mason and Stephen Stich
    In Dermot Moran (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Twentieth-Century Philosophy, Routledge. 2008.
    The 20 sup > th /sup > century has been a tumultuous time in psychology -- a century in which the discipline struggled with basic questions about its intellectual identity, but nonetheless managed to achieve spectacular growth and maturation. It’s not surprising, then, that psychology has attracted sustained philosophical attention and stimulated rich philosophical debate. Some of this debate was aimed at understanding, and sometimes criticizing, the assumptions, concepts and explanatory strateg…Read more
  •  254
    Evolution, culture, and the irrationality of the emotions
    In D. Evans & Pierre Cruse (eds.), Emotion, Evolution, and Rationality, Oxford University Press. 2004.
    For about 2500 years, from Plato’s time until the closing decades of the 20th century, the dominant view was that the emotions are quite distinct from the processes of rational thinking and decision making, and are often a major impediment to those processes. But in recent years this orthodoxy has been challenged in a number of ways. Damasio (1994) has made a forceful case that the traditional view, which he has dubbed _Descartes’ Error_, is quite wrong, because emotions play a fundamental role …Read more
  •  203
    Philosophical Questions about the Nature of Willpower
    Philosophy Compass 5 (9). 2010.
    In this article, I survey four key questions about willpower: How is willpower possible? Why does willpower fail? How does willpower relate to other self-regulatory processes? and What are the connections between willpower and weakness of will? Empirical research into willpower is growing rapidly and yielding some fascinating new findings. This survey emphasizes areas in which empirical progress in understanding willpower helps to advance traditional philosophical debates.
  •  139
    Telling More Than We Can Know About Intentional Action
    with Sara Konrath
    Mind and Language 26 (3): 353-380. 2011.
    Recently, a number of philosophers have advanced a surprising conclusion: people's judgments about whether an agent brought about an outcome intentionally are pervasively influenced by normative considerations. In this paper, we investigate the ‘Chairman case’, an influential case from this literature and disagree with this conclusion. Using a statistical method called structural path modeling, we show that people's attributions of intentional action to an agent are driven not by normative asses…Read more
  •  33
    Volition, Self-Control, and Public Policy: Symposium on the Tanner Lecture on Human Values
    with Walter Mischel, David Laibson, John Jonides, and Ethan Kross
    The 2014 Tanner Symposium features a panel of speakers discussing current research in the areas of volition and self-control and the effects of that research for issues of public policy.
  •  16
    Using big data to map the network organization of the brain
    with James E. Swain and John D. Swain
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (1): 101-102. 2014.
  •  367
    Self-expression: a deep self theory of moral responsibility
    Philosophical Studies 173 (5): 1203-1232. 2016.
    According to Dewey, we are responsible for our conduct because it is “ourselves objectified in action”. This idea lies at the heart of an increasingly influential deep self approach to moral responsibility. Existing formulations of deep self views have two major problems: They are often underspecified, and they tend to understand the nature of the deep self in excessively rationalistic terms. Here I propose a new deep self theory of moral responsibility called the Self-Expression account that ad…Read more
  •  170
    A reply to Rose, Livengood, Sytsma, and Machery
    with Richard Gonzalez, Daniel Kessler, Eric Laber, Sara Konrath, and Vijay Nair
  •  1379
    What Makes a Manipulated Agent Unfree?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (3): 563-593. 2012.
    Incompatibilists and compatibilists (mostly) agree that there is a strong intuition that a manipulated agent, i.e., an agent who is the victim of methods such as indoctrination or brainwashing, is unfree. They differ however on why exactly this intuition arises. Incompatibilists claim our intuitions in these cases are sensitive to the manipulated agent’s lack of ultimate control over her actions, while many compatibilists argue that our intuitions respond to damage inflicted by manipulation on t…Read more
  •  935
    Mental State Attributions and the Side-Effect Effect
    Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48 (1): 232-238. 2012.
    The side-effect effect, in which an agent who does not speci␣cally intend an outcome is seen as having brought it about intentionally, is thought to show that moral factors inappropriately bias judgments of intentionality, and to challenge standard mental state models of intentionality judgments. This study used matched vignettes to dissociate a number of moral factors and mental states. Results support the view that mental states, and not moral factors, explain the side-effect effect. However, …Read more
  •  13
    Homo Prospectus
    with Martin E. P. Seligman, Peter Railton, and Roy F. Baumeister
    Oxford University Press USA. 2016.
    Our species is misnamed. Though sapiens defines human beings as "wise" what humans do especially well is to prospect the future. We are homo prospectus. In this book, Martin E. P. Seligman, Peter Railton, Roy F. Baumeister, and Chandra Sripada argue it is anticipating and evaluating future possibilities for the guidance of thought and action that is the cornerstone of human success. Much of the history of psychology has been dominated by a framework in which people's behavior is driven by past h…Read more
  •  289
    Recent studies by experimental philosophers demonstrate puzzling asymmetries in people’s judgments about intentional action, leading many philosophers to propose that normative factors are inappropriately influencing intentionality judgments. In this paper, I present and defend the Deep Self Model of judgments about intentional action that provides a quite different explanation for these judgment asymmetries. The Deep Self Model is based on the idea that people make an intuitive distinction betw…Read more