•  1915
    Subjects appear to take only evidential considerations to provide reason or justification for believing. That is to say that subjects do not take practical considerations—the kind of considerations which might speak in favour of or justify an action or decision—to speak in favour of or justify believing. This is puzzling; after all, practical considerations often seem far more important than matters of truth and falsity. In this paper, I suggest that one cannot explain this, as many have tried, …Read more
  •  1579
    Wittgenstein famously remarks that ‘the meaning of a word is its use’ (PI §43). Whether or not one views this as gesturing at a ‘theory’ of meaning, or instead as aiming primarily at dissuading us from certain misconceptions of language that are a source of puzzlement, it is clear that Wittgenstein held that for certain purposes the meaning of an expression could profitably be characterised as its use. Throughout his later writings, however, Wittgenstein’s appeal to the notion of use pulls in tw…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
  •  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
  •  749
    Between Old and New: Brandom’s Analytic Pragmatism
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies 17 (4): 597-607. 2009.
    In his latest book, Between Saying and Doing, Robert Brandom aims to lay the foundations for a new approach to philosophy, 'analytic pragmatism', which as the name suggests aims to reconcile the insights of the pragmatists with the ambitions of the analytic tradition. To do so, Brandom offers what he describes as a ‘new metatheoretic conceptual apparatus’. In this paper, I raises questions concerning whether the method underlying that apparatus is really so new, and challenge the suggestion that…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
  •  634
    On epistemic conceptions of meaning: Use, meaning and normativity
    European Journal of Philosophy 17 (3): 416-434. 2009.
    A number of prominent philosophers advance the following ideas: (1) Meaning is use. (2) Meaning is an intrinsically normative notion. Call (1) the use thesis, hereafter UT, and (2) the normativity thesis, hereafter NT. They come together in the view that for a linguistic expression to have meaning is for there to be certain proprieties governing its employment.1 These ideas are often associated with a third
  •  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
  •  595
    Truth: the Aim and Norm of Belief
    Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 32 (3): 121-136. 2013.
    Invited contribution to The Aim of Belief, a special issue of Teorema, guest-edited by J. Zalabardo.
  •  572
    Against Second‐Order Reasons
    Noûs 51 (2): 398-420. 2017.
    A normative reason for a person to? is a consideration which favours?ing. A motivating reason is a reason for which or on the basis of which a person?s. This paper explores a connection between normative and motivating reasons. More specifically, it explores the idea that there are second-order normative reasons to? for or on the basis of certain first-order normative reasons. In this paper, I challenge the view that there are second-order reasons so understood. I then show that prominent views …Read more
  •  543
    What is the Normativity of Meaning?
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (3): 219-238. 2016.
    There has been much debate over whether to accept the claim that meaning is normative. One obstacle to making progress in that debate is that it is not always clear what the claim amounts to. In this paper, I try to resolve a dispute between those who advance the claim concerning how it should be understood. More specifically, I critically examine two competing conceptions of the normativity of meaning, rejecting one and defending the other. Though the paper aims to settle a dispute among propon…Read more
  •  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'
  •  389
    Keep Things in Perspective: Reasons, Rationality, and the A Priori
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 8 (1): 1-22. 2014.
    Objective reasons are given by the facts. Subjective reasons are given by one’s perspective on the facts. Subjective reasons, not objective reasons, determine what it is rational to do. In this paper, I argue against a prominent account of subjective reasons. The problem with that account, I suggest, is that it makes what one has subjective reason to do, and hence what it is rational to do, turn on matters outside or independent of one’s perspective. After explaining and establishing this point,…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
  •  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
  •  325
    Reasons and Guidance
    Analytic Philosophy 57 (3): 214-235. 2016.
    Many philosophers accept a response constraint on normative reasons: that p is a reason for you to φ only if you are able to φ for the reason that p. This constraint offers a natural way to cash out the familiar and intuitive thought that reasons must be able to guide us, and has been put to work as a premise in a range of influential arguments in ethics and epistemology. However, the constraint requires interpretation and faces putative counter-examples due to Julia Markovits, Mark Schroeder, a…Read more
  •  316
    Perspectivism and the Argument from Guidance
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (2): 361-374. 2017.
    Perspectivists hold that what you ought to do is determined by your perspective, that is, your epistemic position. Objectivists hold that what you ought to do is determined by the facts irrespective of your perspective. This paper explores an influential argument for perspectivism which appeals to the thought that the normative is action guiding. The crucial premise of the argument is that you ought to φ only if you are able to φ for the reasons which determine that you ought to φ. We show that …Read more
  •  291
    Mark Schroeder has recently proposed a new analysis of knowledge. I examine that analysis and show that it fails. More specifically, I show that it faces a problem all too familiar from the post-Gettier literature, namely, that it is delivers the wrong verdict in fake barn cases.
  •  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
  •  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
  •  253
    Spinoza, the No Shared Attribute thesis, and the principle of sufficient reason
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (3). 2011.
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy, Volume 19, Issue 3, Page 543-548, May 2011
  •  245
    Meaning Holism and De Re Ascription
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (4): 575-599. 2008.
    According to inferential role semantics (IRS), for an expression to have a particular meaning or express a certain concept is for subjects to be disposed to make, or to treat as proper, certain inferential transitions involving that expression.1 Such a theory of meaning is holistic, since according to it the meaning or concept any given expression possesses or expresses depends on the inferential relations it stands in to other expressions
  •  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
  •  229
    The normativity of meaning defended
    Analysis 67 (2): 133-140. 2007.
    Meaning, according to a significant number of philosophers, is an intrinsically normative notion.1 For this reason, it is suggested, meaning is not conducive to a naturalistic explanation. In this paper, I shall not address whether this is indeed so. Nor shall I present arguments in support of the normativity thesis (see Glock 2005; Kripke 1982). Instead, I shall examine and respond to two forceful objections recently (and independently) raised against it by Boghossian (2005), Hattiangadi (2006)…Read more
  •  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
  •  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
  •  195
    Should I Believe the Truth?
    Dialectica 64 (2): 213-224. 2010.
    Many philosophers hold that a general norm of truth governs the attitude of believing. In a recent and influential discussion, Krister Bykvist and Anandi Hattiangadi raise a number of serious objections to this view. In this paper, I concede that Bykvist and Hattiangadi's criticisms might be effective against the formulation of the norm of truth that they consider, but suggest that an alternative is available. After outlining that alternative, I argue that it is not vulnerable to objections para…Read more
  •  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
  •  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