•  4
    General assessments and attractive exceptions: temptation in Planning, Time, and Self-Governance
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1-9. forthcoming.
    ABSTRACTOne of Bratman’s aims in Planning, Time, and Self-Governance is to develop his insights regarding planning to shed light on temptation. I focus on the main case of temptation Bratman appeal...
  •  8
    Can Every Option Be Rationally Impermissible?
    Erkenntnis 1-9. forthcoming.
    Moving from simple to increasingly sophisticated candidate cases, I argue against the idea that there can be cases in which, due to no fault of the agent or to any ambiguity regarding how things will go depending on which option is selected, all the options available to an agent are rationally impermissible. Whether there are cases that fit this bill—qualifying as what I will label no-fault-or-ambiguity rational dilemmas—depends on the characteristics of conclusive reasons. My reasoning leads me…Read more
  •  39
    Better than
    Philosophical Studies 176 (6): 1621-1638. 2019.
    It is commonly held that rational preferences must be acyclic. There have, however, been cases that have been put forward as counterexamples to this view. This paper focuses on the following question: If the counterexamples are compelling and rational preferences can be cyclic, what should we conclude about the presumed acyclicity of the “better than” relation? Building on some revisionary suggestions concerning acyclicity and betterness, I make a case for hanging on to the presumption that “bet…Read more
  •  17
    I focus on David Gauthier’s intriguing suggestion that actions are not to be evaluated directly but via an evaluation of deliberative procedures. I argue that this suggestion is misleading, since even the most direct evaluation of (intentional) actions involves the evaluation of different ways of deliberating about what to do. Relatedly, a complete picture of what an agent is or might be (intentionally) doing cannot be disentangled from a complete picture of how s/he is or might be deliberating.…Read more
  • Book Reviews (review)
    with Andris Krumins, Brendan Larvor, and Andre Vellino
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 12 (3): 281-292. 1998.
    The Economics of Science: Methodology and Epistemology as if Economics Really Mattered. James R. Wible, 1998. London and New York, Routledge. xviii + 266 pp., US$75.00, £45.00. ISBN 0–415–17257–8 The Dawning of Gauge Theory. Lochlainn O'Raifeartaigh, 1997. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press. ix + 249 pp., $US 69.50, $US 29.95. ISBN 0–691–02978–4, 0–691–02977–6 Mathematics as a Science of Patterns. Michael D. Resnik, 1997. Oxford, Clarendon Press. ISBN 0–19–823608–5 Proof Theory and Automa…Read more
  •  119
    The Voices of Reason
    American Philosophical Quarterly 42 (1). 2005.
    It is widely held that instrumental reasoning to a practical conclusion is parasitic on non-instrumental practical reasoning. This conclusion is based on the claim that when there is no reason to adopt a certain end, there is no reason to take the means (qua means) to that end. But, as will be argued, while there is a sense of reason according to which the previous statement is true, there is another sense according to which it is false. Furthermore, in both of the relevant senses of reason, it …Read more
  •  92
    Agency and awareness
    Ratio 26 (2): 117-133. 2013.
    I focus on the idea that if, as a result of lacking any conscious goal related to X-ing and any conscious anticipation or awareness of X-ing, one could sincerely reply to the question ‘Why are you X-ing?’ with ‘I didn't realize I was doing that,’ then one's X-ing is not intentional. My interest is in the idea interpreted as philosophically substantial (rather than merely stipulative) and as linked to the familiar view that there is a major difference, relative to the exercise of agential control…Read more
  •  1
    There Are Preferences and Then There Are Preferences
    In Barbara Montero and Mark D. White (ed.), Economics and the Mind, . 2007.
    This paper draws a distinction between two closely related conceptions of 'preference' that is of great significance relative to a set of interrelated debates in rational choice theory. The distinction is particularly illuminating in relation to the idea that there is a rational defect inherent in individuals with intransitive preferences and, relatedly, in democratic collectives. I use the distinction to show that things are more complicated than they seem.
  •  55
    (No abstract is available for this citation)
  • Joseph Heath, Communicative Action and Rational Choice (review)
    Philosophy in Review 22 41-43. 2002.
  •  97
    Dynamic choice
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008.
    Sometimes a series of choices do not serve one's concerns well even though each choice in the series seems perfectly well suited to serving one's concerns. In such cases, one has a dynamic choice problem. Otherwise put, one has a problem related to the fact that one's choices are spread out over time. This survey reviews some of the challenging choice situations and problematic preference structures that can prompt dynamic choice problems. It also reviews some proposed solutions, and explains …Read more
  •  9
    Amartya Sen, Rationality and Freedom Reviewed by
    Philosophy in Review 23 (3): 217-220. 2003.
  •  133
    Taking on intentions
    Ratio 22 (2): 157-169. 2009.
    I propose a model of intention formation and argue that it illuminates and does justice to the complex and interesting relationships between intentions on the one hand and practical deliberation, evaluative judgements, desires, beliefs, and conduct on the other. As I explain, my model allows that intentions normally stem from pro-attitudes and normally control conduct, but it is also revealing with respect to cases in which intentions do not stem from pro-attitudes or do not control conduct. Mor…Read more
  •  98
    Standards, Advice, and Practical Reason
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 3 (1): 57-67. 2006.
    Is there a mode of sincere advice in which the standards of the adviser are put aside in favor of the standards of the advisee? I consider two sorts of cases that appear to be such that the adviser is evaluating things from within the advisee’s system of standards even though this system conflicts with her own; and I argue that these cases are best interpreted in ways that dissolve this appearance. I then argue that the nature of sincere advice precludes an adviser’s putting aside her own system…Read more
  •  72
    Might Intentions be the Only Source of Practical Imperatives?
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (3): 311-325. 2006.
    I focus on the broadly instrumentalist view that all genuine practical imperatives are hypothetical imperatives and all genuine practical deliberation is deliberation from existing motivations. After indicating why I see instrumentalism as highly plausible, I argue that the most popular version of instrumentalism, according to which genuine practical imperatives can take desires as their starting point, is problematic. I then provide a limited defense of what I see as a more radical but also mor…Read more
  •  95
    Getting On in a Varied World
    Social Theory and Practice 32 (1): 61-73. 2006.
    The core argument in favor of the view that immorality is a natural defect for human beings, which has been developed by Foot, assumes that if justice and compassion have important functions in human survival and reproduction, then injustice and cruelty are natural defects in human beings. But this ignores possibilities and results that cannot reasonably be ignored. Multiple and mixed naturally sound types can and do occur in nature. Moreover, research in the life sciences suggests that at least…Read more
  •  70
    Cashing out the money-pump argument
    Philosophical Studies (6): 1-5. 2016.
    The money-pump argument figures as the staple argument in support of the view that cyclic preferences are irrational. According to a prominent way of understanding the argument, it is grounded in the assumption that it is irrational to make choices that lead one to a dispreferred alternative. My aim in this paper is to motivate diffidence with respect to understanding the money-pump argument in this way by suggesting that if it is so understood, the argument emerges as question-begging and as a …Read more
  •  211
    Understanding procrastination
    Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 37 (2). 2007.
    Procrastination is frustrating. Because the procrastinator's frustration is self-imposed, procrastination can also be quite puzzling. I consider attempts at explaining, or explaining away, what appear to be genuine cases of procrastination. According to the position that I propose and defend, genuine procrastination exists and is supported by preference loops, which can be either stable or evanescent.
  •  119
    Addiction, procrastination, and failure points in decision-making systems
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (4): 439-440. 2008.
    Redish et al. suggest that their failures-in-decision-making framework for understanding addiction can also contribute to improving our understanding of a variety of psychiatric disorders. In the spirit of reflecting on the significance and scope of their research, I briefly develop the idea that their framework can also contribute to improving our understanding of the pervasive problem of procrastination.
  •  98
    The good, the bad, and the trivial
    Philosophical Studies 169 (2): 209-225. 2014.
    Dreadful and dreaded outcomes are sometimes brought about via the accumulation of individually trivial effects. Think about inching toward terrible health or toward an environmental disaster. In some such cases, the outcome is seen as unacceptable but is still gradually realized via an extended sequence of moves each of which is trivial in terms of its impact on the health or environment of those involved. Cases of this sort are not only practically challenging, they are theoretically challengin…Read more
  •  110
    Environmental Damage and the Puzzle of the Self-Torturer
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 34 (1): 95-108. 2006.
    I show, building on Warren Quinn's puzzle of the self-torturer, that destructive conduct with respect to the environment can flourish even in the absence of interpersonal conflicts. As Quinn's puzzle makes apparent, in cases where individually negligible effects are involved, an agent, whether it be an individual or a unified collective, can be led down a course of destruction simply as a result of following its informed and perfectly understandable but intransitive preferences. This is relevan…Read more
  • Amartya Sen, Rationality and Freedom (review)
    Philosophy in Review 23 217-220. 2003.
  •  109
    Temptation, Resolutions, and Regret
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (3): 275-292. 2014.
    Discussion of temptation has figured prominently in recent debates concerning instrumental rationality. In light of some particularly interesting cases in which giving in to temptation involves acting in accordance with one’s current evaluative rankings, two lines of thought have been developed: one appeals to the possibility of deviating from a well-grounded resolution, and the other appeals to the possibility of being insufficiently responsive to the prospect of future regret. But the current …Read more
  •  94
    Self-defeating self-governance
    Philosophical Issues 22 (1): 20-34. 2012.
    My aim in this paper is to initiate and contribute to debate concerning the possibility of behavior that is both self-defeating and self-governed. In the first section of the paper, I review a couple of points that figure in the literature as platitudes about (the relevant notion of) self-governance. In the second section, I explain how these points give rise to what seems to be a dilemma that suggests that informed self-defeating behavior, wherein one is aware of the consequences of each choice…Read more
  •  113
    Parity, Comparability, and Choice
    Journal of Philosophy 112 (1): 5-22. 2015.
    It is often supposed that, given two potential objects of choice X and Y, a specific set of circumstances, and a specific choosing agent, one of the following must be true: (1) opting for X is a better choice than opting for Y, (2) opting for Y is a better choice than opting for X, or (3) opting for X and opting for Y are exactly equally good choices. My aim in this paper is to show how some philosophical insights concerning color perception can illuminate the possibility of two options, X and …Read more
  •  105
    I consider the implications of incommensurability for the assumption, in rational choice theory, that a rational agent’s preferences are complete. I argue that, contrary to appearances, the completeness assumption and the existence of incommensurability are compatible. Indeed, reflection on incommensurability suggests that one’s preferences should be complete over even the incommensurable alternatives one faces