•  33
    Inference as a Mental Act
    In Michael Brent (ed.), Mental Action, . forthcoming.
    I will argue that a person is causally responsible for believing what she does. Through inference, she can sustain and change her perspective on the world. When she draws an inference, she causes herself to keep or to change her take on things. In a literal sense, she makes up her own mind as to how things are. And, I will suggest, she can do this voluntarily. It is in part because she is causally responsible for believing what she does that there are things that she ought to believe, and that w…Read more
  •  34
    The metaphysics of responsible believing
    Manuscrito 41 (4): 255-285. 2018.
    Contemporary philosophy of mind has tended to make the believer disappear. In response, Matt Boyle and Pamela Hieronymi have argued that believing is an act or activity, not a mental state. I argue that this response fails to fully critique contemporary accounts of believing. Such accounts assume that states of believing are particulars; with semantic properties; that we attend to in reflection and act on in inference; and with a rich causal life of their own. Together, these assumptions leave n…Read more
  •  21
    Belief: A Pragmatic Picture By Aaron Z. Zimmerman (review)
    Analysis 79 (1): 180-183. 2019.
    _ Belief: A Pragmatic Picture _ By ZimmermanAaron Z.Oxford University Press, 2018. viii + 180 pp.
  •  81
    In this paper, I try to make sense of the idea that true knowledge attributions characterize something that is more valuable than true belief and that survives even if, as Contextualism implies, contextual changes make it no longer identifiable by a knowledge attribution. I begin by sketching a familiar, pragmatic picture of assertion that helps us to understand and predict how the words “S knows that P” can be used to draw different epistemic distinctions in different contexts. I then argue tha…Read more
  •  37
    Davidson on Practical Knowledge
    Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 3 (9). 2015.
    Did Donald Davidson agree with G.E.M. Anscombe that action requires a distinctive form of agential awareness? The answer is No, at least according to the standard interpretation of Davidson’s account of action. A careful study of Davidson’s early writings, however, reveals a much more subtle conception of the role of agential belief in action. While the role of the general belief in Davidson’s theory is familiar and has been much discussed, virtually no attention has been paid to the singular be…Read more
  •  61
    The thesis that anything conceivable is possible plays a central role in philosophical debates about the self. Discussions about free will have focused, at least in the last hundred years, on whether a free yet determined action is conceivable. If it is, and if anything conceivable is possible, then a deterministic physics would by itself pose no obstacle to human freedom. Current debates about the nature and value of personal survival turn on whether it is conceivable for a person to move from …Read more
  •  74
    Lacking, Needing, and Wanting
    Analytic Philosophy. forthcoming.
    In this paper I offer a novel conception of the nature of wanting. According to it, wanting is simply lacking something one needs. Lacking has no direct connection to goodness but needing does, and that is how goodness figures in to wanting. What a thing needs derives from what it is to be a good thing of its kind. In people, wanting is connected to both knowledge and choice, since a person can know that she wants something and can act on that knowledge. When she does, she is acting in light of …Read more
  •  21
    Manifesting Emotion (review)
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (2): 507-511. 2018.
    My contribution to an Author-Meets-Critics session on Christine Tappolet's book *Emotions, Value, and Agency*.
  •  30
    Understanding and Belief
    Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 58 (3): 559-580. 1998.
    A natural view is that linguistic understanding is a source of justification or evidence: that beliefs about the meaning of a text or speech act are prima facie justified when based on states of understanding. Neglect of this view is largely due to the widely held assumption that understanding a text or speech act consists in knowledge or belief. It is argued that this assumption rests, in part, on confusing occurrent states of understanding and dispositions to understand. It is then argued that…Read more
  •  1
    A thoroughly updated introduction to the concepts, methods, and standards of critical thinking, _A Practical Guide to Critical Thinking: Deciding What to Do and Believe, Second Edition_ is a unique presentation of the formal strategies used when thinking through reasons and arguments in many areas of expertise. Pursuing an interdisciplinary approach to critical thinking, the book offers a broad conception of critical thinking and explores the practical relevance to conducting research across fie…Read more
  •  4
    On Representing Content
    ProtoSociology 17 101-118. 2002.
    I consider whether the content of a speech act is best represented by a set of possible worlds or by an ordered set containing the individual and properties the speech act is about. I argue that there is nothing in such contents that an ordered set can represent that a set of worlds cannot. In particular, both can be used to capture what is distinctive about singular propositions. But a set of worlds better represents content in cases where the content concerns individuals that no longer exist. …Read more
  •  78
    Belief Ascription and Context Dependence
    Philosophy Compass 6 (12): 902-911. 2011.
    This article considers the question whether belief ascriptions exhibit context dependence. I first distinguish two potential forms of context dependence in belief ascription. Propositional context dependence concerns what the subject believes, whereas attitudinal context dependence concerns what it is to believe a proposition. I then discuss three potential sources of PCD and two potential sources of ACD. Given the nature of this article, my discussion will provide only an overview of these vari…Read more
  •  129
    Understanding and belief
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (3): 559-580. 1998.
    A natural view is that linguistic understanding is a source of justification or evidence: that beliefs about the meaning of a text or speech act are prima facie justified when based on states of understanding. Neglect of this view is largely due to the widely held assumption that understanding a text or speech act consists in knowledge or belief. It is argued that this assumption rests, in part, on confusing occurrent states of understanding and dispositions to understand. It is then argued that…Read more
  •  120
    Knowledge and understanding
    Mind and Language 16 (5). 2001.
    Some philosophical proposals seem to die hard. In a recent paper, Jason Stanley has worked to resurrect the description theory of reference, at least as it might apply to natural kind terms like ‘elm’ (Stanley, 1999). The theory’s founding idea is that to understand ‘elm’ one must know a uniquely identifying truth about elms. Famously, Hilary Putnam showed that ordinary users of ‘elm’ may understand it while lacking such knowledge, and may even be unable to distinguish elms from beeches (Putnam,…Read more
  •  130
    The common ground in an inquiry consists of what the participants agree on, at least for the sake of the inquiry. The relations between the factual and linguistic components of common ground are notoriously difficult to trace. I clarify them by exploring how modal disagreements – disagreements about how things might be – interact with the linguistic and the factual common ground. I argue that modal agreement is essential to common ground of any kind.
  •  49
    Rule-Following and Realism (review)
    Philosophical Review 108 (3): 425. 1999.
    Ebbs’s aim is to “come to terms with and move beyond currently entrenched ways of looking at central topics in the philosophy of language and mind”. The entrenched perspectives are Metaphysical Realism, the view that “we can make ‘objective’ assertions only if we can ‘grasp’ metaphysically independent ‘truth conditions”’, and Scientific Naturalism, “Quine’s view that ‘it is within science itself that reality is to be identified and described”’. Ebbs intends to replace these with what he calls th…Read more
  •  44
    The Mind-Body problem is the problem of saying how a person’s mental states and events relate to his bodily ones. How does Oscar’s believing that water is cold relate to the states of his body? Is it itself a bodily state, perhaps a state of his brain or nervous system? If not, does it nonetheless depend on such states? Or is his believing that water is cold independent of his bodily states? And, crucially, what are the notions of dependence and independence at issue here?
  •  6
    Belief and Agency (edited book)
    University of Calgary Press. 2011.
    "Most of the papers in this volume (all except for those by Steinberg, Haase, and Street) were presented at a conference...at Ryerson University in October of 2010."--p. xvii.
  •  101
    Understanding, justification and the a priori
    Philosophical Studies 87 (2): 119-141. 1997.
    What I wish to consider here is how understanding something is related to the justification of beliefs about what it means. Suppose, for instance, that S understands the name “Clinton” and has a justified belief that it names Clinton. How is S’s understanding related to that belief’s justification? Or suppose that S understands the sentence “Clinton is President”, or Jones’ assertive utterance of it, and has a justified belief that that sentence expresses the proposition that Clinton is President, o…Read more
  •  124
    Soames and widescopism
    Philosophical Studies 123 (3). 2005.
    Widescopism, as I call it, holds that names are synonymous with descriptions that are required to take wide scope over modal adverbs. Scott Soames has recently argued that Widescopism is false. He identifies an argument that is valid but which, he claims, a defender of Widescopism must say has true premises and a false conclusion. I argue, first, that a defender of Widescopism need not in fact say that the target arguments conclusion is false. Soames argument that she must confuses, I claim, mod…Read more
  •  63
    with Gurpreet Rattan
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (5-6): 515-517. 2013.
    (2013). Introduction. Canadian Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 43, Essays on the Nature of Propositions, pp. 515-517
  •  48
    Beliefs and Dispositions
    Journal of Philosophical Research 34 243-262. 2009.
    This paper is about the dispositional difference that demonstrative and indexical beliefs make. More specifically, it is about the dispositional difference between my believing that NN is P and my believing that I, myself, am P. Identifying a dispositional difference in this kind of case is especially challenging because those beliefs have the very same truth conditions. My question is this: how can a difference in belief that makes no difference to one’s conception of the world nonetheless make…Read more
  •  6
    New Essays on the Nature of Propositions (edited book)
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Special Issue. . 2015.
    These are exciting times for philosophical theorizing about propositions, with the last 15 years seeing the development of new approaches and the emergence of new theorists. Propositions have been invoked to explain thought and cognition, the nature and attribution of mental states, language and communication, and in philosophical treatments of truth, necessity and possibility. According to Frege and Russell, and their followers, propositions are structured mind- and language-independent abstrac…Read more
  •  63
    Guidance and Belief
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (S1): 63-90. 2009.