•  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.
  •  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
  •  126
    The Newxin puzzle
    Philosophical Studies 139 (3): 415-422. 2008.
    A variety of thought experiments suggest that, if the standard picture of practical rationality is correct, then practical rationality is sometimes an obstacle to practical success. For some, this in turn suggests that there is something wrong with the standard picture. In particular, it has been argued that we should revise the standard picture so that practical rationality and practical success emerge as more closely connected than the current picture allows. In this paper, I construct a choic…Read more
  •  122
    Morality and psychology
    Philosophy Compass 2 (1). 2007.
    This article briefly discusses the connection between moral philosophy and moral psychology, and then explores three intriguing areas of inquiry that fall within the intersection of the two fields. The areas of inquiry considered focus on (1) debates concerning the nature of moral judgments and moral motivation; (2) debates concerning good and bad character traits and character-based explanations of actions; and (3) debates concerning the role of moral rules in guiding the morally wise agent.
  •  121
    Temptation and Deliberation
    Philosophical Studies 131 (3): 583-606. 2006.
      There is a great deal of plausibility to the standard view that if one is rational and it is clear at the time of action that a certain move, say M1, would serve one’s concerns better than any other available move, then one will, as a rational agent, opt for move M1. Still, this view concerning rationality has been challenged at least in part because it seems to conflict with our considered judgments about what it is rational to do in cases of temptation that share the structure of Warren Quin…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
  •  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.
  •  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
  •  109
    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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  84
    The puzzle of the self-torturer raises intriguing questions concerning rationality, cyclic preferences, and resoluteness. Interestingly, what makes the case puzzling has not been clearly pinpointed. The puzzle, it seems, is that a series of rational choices foreseeably leads the self-torturer to an option that serves his preferences worse than the one with which he started. But this is a very misleading way of casting the puzzle. I pinpoint the real puzzle of the self-torturer and, in the proces…Read more
  •  80
    Environmental preservation and second-order procrastination
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 35 (3). 2007.
    I argue that procrastination with respect to environmental preservation is in the class of procrastination problems that are particularly difficult to overcome because of the presence of factors that support second-order procrastination. If my reasoning is correct, then second-order procrastination can help explain the distressing fact — assuming it is a fact — that, despite widespread professions of serious concern, the issue of environmental preservation is not getting as much of our attentio…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
  •  72
    It is natural to assume that we would not be willing to compromise the environment if the conveniences and luxuries thereby gained did not have a substantial positive impact on our happiness. But there is room for skepticism and, in particular, for the thesis that we are compromising the environment to no avail in that our conveniences and luxuries are not having a significant impact on our happiness, making the costs incurred for them a waste. One way of defending the no-avail thesis fits neatl…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
  •  64
    I examine current models of self-destructive addictive behaviour, and argue that there is an important place for Ulysses contracts in coping with addictive behaviour that stems from certain problematic preference structures. Given the relevant preference structures, interference based on a Ulysses contract need not involve questionably favouring an agent’s past preferences over her current preferences, but can actually be justified in terms of the agent’s current concerns and commitments.
  •  55
    A variety of strategies have been used to oppose the influential Humean thesis that all of an agent’s reasons for action are provided by the agent’s current wants. Among these strategies is the attempt to show that it is a conceptual truth that reasons for action are non-relative. I introduce the notion of a basic reason- giving consideration and show that the non-relativity thesis can be understood as a corollary of the more fundamental thesis that basic reason-giving considerations are general…Read more
  •  54
    (No abstract is available for this citation)
  •  51
    Instrumentally Rational Myopic Planning
    Philosophical Papers 33 (2): 133-145. 2004.
    Abstract I challenge the view that, in cases where time for deliberation is not an issue, instrumental rationality precludes myopic planning. I show where there is room for instrumentally rational myopic planning, and then argue that such planning is possible not only in theory, it is something human beings can and do engage in. The possibility of such planning has, however, been disregarded, and this disregard has skewed related debates concerning instrumental rationality
  •  48
    Rehabilitating human nature
    Bioethics 24 (9): 461-469. 2010.
    I review the main models of disability and introduce a line of reasoning that has been neglected in the debate concerning disability and disadvantage. My reasoning suggests that while disablism can and should be combated, success will require more challenging transformations than those featured in the literature
  •  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