•  114
    Recent Work on Higher-Order Evidence
    Analysis. forthcoming.
    A critical survey of recent work in epistemology on higher-order evidence. It discusses the nature of higher-order evidence, some puzzles it raises, responses to those puzzles, and problems facing them. It concludes by indicating connections between debates concerning higher-order evidence in epistemology and parallel debates in ethics and aesthetics.
  •  89
    Aesthetic Reasons and the Demands They (Do Not) Make
    Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
    What does the aesthetic ask of us? What claims do the aesthetic features of the objects and events in our environment make on us? My answer in this paper is: that depends. Aesthetic reasons can only justify feelings – they cannot demand them. A corollary of this is that there are no aesthetic obligations to feel, only permissions. However, I argue, aesthetic reasons can demand actions – they do not merely justify them. A corollary of this is that there are aesthetic obligations to act, not only …Read more
  •  200
    According to ethical objectivism, what a person should do depends on the facts, as opposed to their perspective on the facts. A long-standing challenge to this view is that it fails to accommodate the role that norms play in guiding a person’s action. Roughly, if the facts that determine what a person should do lie beyond their ken, they cannot inform a person’s deliberations. This paper explores two recent developments of this line of thought. Both focus on the epistemic counterpart to ethical …Read more
  •  181
    Epistemic Worth
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 7. 2020.
    Actions can have, or lack, moral worth. When a person’s action is morally worthy, she not only acts rightly, but does so in a way that reflects well on her and in such a way that she is creditable for doing what is right. In this paper, I develop and defend an analogue of the notion of moral worth that applies to belief, which I call epistemic worth. When a person’s belief is epistemically worthy, she not only believes rightly, but does so in a way that reflects well on her and in such a way tha…Read more
  •  134
    Whither Higher-Order Evidence?
    In Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen & Mattias Skipper (eds.), Higher-Order Evidence: New Essays, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    First-order evidence is evidence which bears on whether a proposition is true. Higher-order evidence is evidence which bears on whether a person is able to assess her evidence for or against a proposition. A widespread view is that higher-order evidence makes a difference to whether it is rational for a person to believe a proposition. In this paper, I consider in what way higher-order evidence might do this. More specifically, I consider whether and how higher-order evidence plays a role in det…Read more
  •  235
    Knowledge, justification, and (a sort of) safe belief
    Synthese 197 (8): 3593-3609. 2020.
    An influential proposal is that knowledge involves safe belief. A belief is safe, in the relevant sense, just in case it is true in nearby metaphysically possible worlds. In this paper, I introduce a distinct but complementary notion of safety, understood in terms of epistemically possible worlds. The main aim, in doing so, is to add to the epistemologist’s tool-kit. To demonstrate the usefulness of the tool, I use it to advance and assess substantive proposals concerning knowledge and justifica…Read more
  •  612
    Is meaning fraught with ought?
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90 (4): 535-555. 2009.
    According to Normativism, what an expression means has immediate implications for how a subject should or may employ that expression. Many view this thesis as imposing substantive constraints upon theories of linguistic meaning. In this paper, I shall not consider that view; instead, I shall address the prior issue of whether or not one should accept Normativism. Against certain recent prominent lines of attack common to a number of different anti‐Normativist discussions, I shall defend both the…Read more
  •  2
    Don't Take my Word for It: On Beliefs, Affects, Reasons, Values, Rationality, and Aesthetic Testimony
    In Paul Noordhof, Ema Sullivan-Bissett & Helen Bradley (eds.), Art and Belief, Oxford University Press. 2017.
    Aesthetic testimony is not a source of knowledge; it is not even a source of rational belief. If, for example, Holly tells Harry that Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas is good, Harry cannot come to know or rationally believe that the film is good on the basis of Holly’s testimony alone. This chapter outlines a novel argument for this view, one which serves also to explain it. That argument appeals to four principles connecting rationality and reasons, reasons and values, belief and affects, and beliefs …Read more
  •  742
    The Normativity of Belief
    Analysis 74 (4): 698-713. 2014.
    This is a survey of recent debates concerning the normativity of belief. We explain what the thesis that belief is normative involves, consider arguments for and against that thesis, and explore its bearing on debates in metaethics
  •  214
    Right in some respects: reasons as evidence
    Philosophical Studies 175 (9): 2191-2208. 2018.
    What is a normative reason for acting? In this paper, I introduce and defend a novel answer to this question. The starting-point is the view that reasons are right-makers. By exploring difficulties facing it, I arrive at an alternative, according to which reasons are evidence of respects in which it is right to perform an act, for example, that it keeps a promise. This is similar to the proposal that reasons for a person to act are evidence that she ought to do so; however, as I explain, it diff…Read more
  •  349
    The Glass is Half Empty: A New Argument for Pessimism about Aesthetic Testimony
    British Journal of Aesthetics 55 (1): 91-107. 2015.
    Call the view that it is possible to acquire aesthetic knowledge via testimony, optimism, and its denial, pessimism. In this paper, I offer a novel argument for pessimism. It works by turning attention away from the basis of the relevant belief, namely, testimony, and toward what that belief in turn provides a basis for, namely, other attitudes. In short, I argue that an aesthetic belief acquired via testimony cannot provide a rational basis for further attitudes, such as admiration, and that th…Read more
  •  1055
    Nothing but the Truth: On the Norms and Aims of Belief
    In Timothy Chan (ed.), The Aim of Belief, Oxford University Press. 2013.
    That truth provides the standard for believing appears to be a platitude, one which dovetails with the idea that in some sense belief aims only at the truth. In recent years, however, an increasing number of prominent philosophers have suggested that knowledge provides the standard for believing, and so that belief aims only at knowledge. In this paper, I examine the considerations which have been put forward in support of this suggestion, considerations relating to lottery beliefs, Moorean beli…Read more
  •  278
    Epistemic value and achievement
    Ratio 25 (2): 216-230. 2012.
    Knowledge seems to be a good thing, or at least better than epistemic states that fall short of it, such as true belief. Understanding too seems to be a good thing, perhaps better even than knowledge. In a number of recent publications, Duncan Pritchard tries to account for the value of understanding by claiming that understanding is a cognitive achievement and that achievements in general are valuable. In this paper, I argue that coming to understand something need not be an achievement, and so…Read more
  •  13
    A paper aimed primarily at a non-academic audience in which I suggest that Lewis Carroll's Alice novels can be viewed, in part, as exploring two competing conceptions of language, conceptions that the philosopher Donald Davidson critically examines. According to the Institutional View, language is a system of rules regulating the use of words and words have the meanings that they do in virtue of those rules. According to the Invention View, what words mean is rather a matter of how the speaker i…Read more
  •  327
    Does belief (only) aim at the truth?
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (2): 279-300. 2012.
    It is common to hear talk of the aim of belief and to find philosophers appealing to that aim for numerous explanatory purposes. What belief 's aim explains depends, of course, on what that aim is. Many hold that it is somehow related to truth, but there are various ways in which one might specify belief 's aim using the notion of truth. In this article, by considering whether they can account for belief 's standard of correctness and the epistemic norms governing belief, I argue against certain…Read more
  •  113
    The use of ‘use’
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 76 (1): 135-147. 2008.
    Many equate the meaning of a linguistic expression with its use. This paper investigates prominent objections to the equivalence claim and argues that they are unsuccessful. Once one suitably distinguishes the kind of use to be identified with meaning, the two do not diverge. Doing so, however, requires employing terms that are cognates of ‘meaning’ (if not ‘meaning’ itself). Nonetheless, I stress, this does not count against the equivalence claim. Moreover, one should not assume that the circul…Read more
  •  122
    Semantic generalists and semantic particularists disagree over the role of rules or principles in linguistic competence and in the determination of linguistic meaning, and hence over the importance of the notions of a rule or of a principle in philosophical accounts of language. In this paper, I have argued that the particularist’s case against generalism is far from decisive and that by moderating the claims she makes on behalf of her thesis the generalist can accommodate many of the considerat…Read more
  •  103
    Languages, language-games, and forms of life
    In H.-J. Glock & J. Hyman (eds.), A Companion to Wittgenstein, Wiley-blackwell. 2017.
    In this paper, after outlining the methodological role Wittgenstein's appeal to language-games is supposed to play, I examine the picture of language which his discussion of such games and their relations to what Wittgenstein calls forms of life suggests. It is a picture according to which language and its employment are inextricably connected to wider contexts—they are embedded in specific natural and social environments, they are tied to purposive activities serving provincial needs, and caugh…Read more
  •  47
    Meaning- theories and the principle of humanity
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (4): 697-716. 2006.
    In this paper, I briefly outline the notion of a truth-conditional meaning-theory and introduce two prominent problems it faces. The“extensionality problem” arises because not all correct specifications of truth-conditions are meaning-giving. The “explanatory problem”concerns the extent to which truth-conditional meaning-theories can contribute to the task of clarifying the nature of linguistic meaning.The “principle of humanity” is supposed to resolve both issues simultaneously. I argue that it…Read more
  •  74
    Fregean sense and anti-individualism
    Philosophical Books 48 (3): 233-240. 2007.
    The definitive version of this article is published in Philosophical Books 48.3 July 2007 pp. 233-240 by Blackwell Publishing, and is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com.
  •  8
    Book Review: Maximilian de Gaynesfordl John McDowell. Polity, 2004 (review)
    Philosophical Papers 34 (1). 2005.
    NoAvailable Philosophical Papers Vol.34(1) 2005: 137-142
  •  192
    Stick to the Facts: On the Norms of Assertion
    Erkenntnis 78 (4): 847-867. 2013.
    The view that truth is the norm of assertion has fallen out of fashion. The recent trend has been to think that knowledge is the norm of assertion. Objections to the knowledge view proceed almost exclusively by appeal to alleged counterexamples. While it no doubt has a role to play, such a strategy relies on intuitions concerning hypothetical cases, intuitions which might not be shared and which might shift depending on how the relevant cases are fleshed out. In this paper, I reject the knowledg…Read more
  •  1110
    If you justifiably believe that you ought to Φ, you ought to Φ
    Philosophical Studies 173 (7): 1873-1895. 2016.
    In this paper, we claim that, if you justifiably believe that you ought to perform some act, it follows that you ought to perform that act. In the first half, we argue for this claim by reflection on what makes for correct reasoning from beliefs about what you ought to do. In the second half, we consider a number of objections to this argument and its conclusion. In doing so, we arrive at another argument for the view that justified beliefs about what you ought to do must be true, based in part …Read more
  •  264
    In a paper in this journal, I defend the view that truth is the fundamental norm for assertion and, in doing so, reject the view that knowledge is the fundamental norm for assertion. In a recent response, Littlejohn raises a number of objections against my arguments. In this reply, I argue that Littlejohn’s objections are unsuccessful
  •  491
    In this paper, I defend against a number of criticisms an account of slurs, according to which the same semantic content is expressed in the use of a slur as is expressed in the use of its neutral counterpart, while in addition the use of a slur conventionally implicates a negative, derogatory attitude. Along the way, I criticise competing accounts of the semantics and pragmatics of slurs, namely, Hom's 'combinatorial externalism' and Anderson and Lepore's 'prohibitionism'
  •  16
    Jeremy Wander's Robert Brandom (review)
    Philosophy in Review 29 (2): 146-147. 2009.