• We argue that all gradable expressions in natural language obey a principle that we call Comparability: if x and y are both F to some degree, then either x is at least as F as y or y is at least as F as x. This principle has been widely rejected among philosophers, especially by ethicists, and its falsity has been claimed to have important normative implications. We argue that Comparability is needed to explain the goodness of several patterns of inference that seem manifestly valid. We reply to…Read more
  • The dispute in philosophical decision theory between causalists and evidentialists remains unsettled. Many are attracted to the causal view’s endorsement of a species of dominance reasoning, and to the intuitive verdicts it gets on a range of cases with the structure of the infamous Newcomb’s Problem. But it also faces a rising wave of purported counterexamples and theoretical challenges. In this paper I will describe a novel decision theory which saves what is appealing about the causal view wh…Read more
  • Rational Monism and Rational Pluralism
    Philosophical Studies. forthcoming.
    Consequentialists often assume rational monism: the thesis that options are always made rationally permissible by the maximization of the selfsame quantity. This essay argues that consequentialists should reject rational monism and instead accept rational pluralism: the thesis that, on different occasions, options are made rationally permissible by the maximization of different quantities. The essay then develops a systematic form of rational pluralism which, unlike its rivals, is capable of han…Read more
  • This paper is about guessing: how people respond to a question when they aren’t certain of the answer. Guesses show surprising and systematic patterns that the most obvious theories don’t explain. We offer a theory that does explain them: we propose that people aim to optimize a tradeoff between accuracy and informativity in forming their guess. After spelling out our theory, we use it to argue that guessing plays a central role in our cognitive lives. In particular, our account of guessing yiel…Read more
  • Abstract. The paper describes a situation in which Causal Decision Theory (CDT) advises the agent to decline a free offer of $1,000, with the foreseeable result that the agent is $1,000 poorer than if she had taken the offer. I take this absurd consequence of CDT to constitute a refutation of it.
  • Backwards Causation and the Chancy Past
    Mind 127 (505): 1-33. 2018.
    I argue that the past can be objectively chancy in cases of backwards causation, and defend a view of chance that allows for this. Using a case, I argue against the popular temporal view of chance, according to which chances are defined relative to times, and all chancy events must lie in the future. I then state and defend the causal view of chance, according to which chances are defined relative to causal histories, and all chancy events must lie causally downstream. The causal view replicates…Read more
  • Probability Modals and Infinite Domains
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 1-15. forthcoming.
    Recent years have witnessed a proliferation of attempts to apply the mathematical theory of probability to the semantics of natural language probability talk. These sorts of “probabilistic” semantics are often motivated by their ability to explain intuitions about inferences involving “likely” and “probably”—intuitions that Angelika Kratzer’s canonical semantics fails to accommodate through a semantics based solely on an ordering of worlds and a qualitative ranking of propositions. However, rece…Read more
  • A Paradox of Evidential Equivalence
    Mind 129 (513): 113-127. 2020.
    Our evidence can be about different subject matters. In fact, necessarily equivalent pieces of evidence can be about different subject matters. Does the hyperintensionality of ‘aboutness’ engender any hyperintensionality at the level of rational credence? In this paper, I present a case which seems to suggest that the answer is ‘yes’. In particular, I argue that our intuitive notions of independent evidence and inadmissible evidence are sensitive to aboutness in a hyperintensional way. We are th…Read more
  • The Value of Biased Information
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    In this essay, I cast doubt on an apparent truism: namely, that if evidence is available for gathering and use at a negligible cost, then it's always instrumentally rational for us to gather that evidence and use it for making decisions. Call this thesis Value of Information. I show that Value of Information conflicts with two other plausible theses. The first is the view that an agent's evidence can entail non-trivial propositions about the external world. The second is the view that epistemic …Read more
  • In “Sideways Music”, Ned Markosian uses aesthetic intuitions about temporally-rotated music to argue that the metaphysics of time is different from the metaphysics of space. In response, I use aesthetic intuitions about spatially-rotated paintings to pose a dilemma for Markosian’s argument: either he accepts the intuitions about spatially-rotated paintings, in which case he must give up on some assumptions in his argument, or he rejects intuitions about spatially-rotated paintings, in which case…Read more
  • This paper argues that evidential decision theory is incompatible with options having objective values.
  • The paper discusses Ian Wells’s recent argument that there is a decision problem in which followers of Evidential Decision Theory end up poorer than followers of Causal Decision Theory despite having the same opportunities for money. It defends Evidential Decision Theory against Wells’s argument, on the following grounds. Wells's has not presented a decision problem in which his main claim is true. Four possible decision problems can be generated from his central example, in each of which follow…Read more
  • Against Magnetism
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (1): 17-36. 2014.
    Magnetism in meta-semantics is the view that the meaning of our words is determined in part by their use and in part by the objective naturalness of candidate meanings. This hypothesis is commonly attributed to David Lewis, and has been put to philosophical work by Brian Weatherson, Ted Sider and others. I argue that there is no evidence that Lewis ever endorsed the view, and that his actual account of language reveals good reasons against it.
  • The Fallacy of Calibrationism
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
  • This paper argues that two widely accepted principles about the indicative conditional jointly presuppose the falsity of one of the most prominent arguments against epistemological iteration principles. The first principle about the indicative conditional, which has close ties both to the Ramsey test and the “or-to-if” inference, says that knowing a material conditional suffices for knowing the corresponding indicative. The second principle says that conditional contradictions cannot be true whe…Read more
  • The Attitudes We Can Have
    Philosophical Review. forthcoming.
    I investigate when we can (rationally) have attitudes, and when we cannot. I argue that a comprehensive theory must explain three phenomena. First, being related by descriptions or names to a proposition one has strong reason to believe is true does not guarantee that one can rationally believe that proposition. Second, such descriptions, etc. do enable individuals to rationally have various non-doxastic attitudes, such as hope and admiration. And third, even for non-doxastic attitudes like that…Read more
  • What Accuracy Could Not Be
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2): 551-580. 2019.
    Two different programmes are in the business of explicating accuracy—the truthlikeness programme and the epistemic utility programme. Both assume that truth is the goal of inquiry, and that among inquiries that fall short of realizing the goal some get closer to it than others. Truthlikeness theorists have been searching for an account of the accuracy of propositions. Epistemic utility theorists have been searching for an account of the accuracy of credal states. Both assume we can make cognitiv…Read more
  • In this paper, I defend the view that it is wrong for us to consume only, or overwhelmingly, media that broadly aligns with our own political viewpoints: that is, it is wrong to be politically “partisan” in our decisions about what media to consume. We are obligated to consume media that aligns with political viewpoints other than our own – to “diversify our sources”. This is so even if our own views are, as a matter of fact, substantively correct.
  • Chisholm's Paradox and Conditional Oughts
    Catharine (Cat) Saint-Croix and Richmond Thomason
    Lecture Notes in Computer Science 8554 192-207. 2014.
    Since it was presented in 1963, Chisholm’s paradox has attracted constant attention in the deontic logic literature, but without the emergence of any definitive solution. We claim this is due to its having no single solution. The paradox actually presents many challenges to the formalization of deontic statements, including (1) context sensitivity of unconditional oughts, (2) formalizing conditional oughts, and (3) distinguishing generic from nongeneric oughts. Using the practical interpretation…Read more
  • Quantum Mechanics as Classical Physics
    Philosophy of Science 82 (2): 266-291. 2015.
    Here I explore a novel no-collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics that combines aspects of two familiar and well-developed alternatives, Bohmian mechanics and the many-worlds interpretation. Despite reproducing the empirical predictions of quantum mechanics, the theory looks surprisingly classical. All there is at the fundamental level are particles interacting via Newtonian forces. There is no wave function. However, there are many worlds
  • Suppose you’d like to believe that p, whether or not it’s true. What can you do to help? A natural initial thought is that you could engage in Intentionally Biased Inquiry : you could look into whether p, but do so in a way that you expect to predominantly yield evidence in favour of p. This paper hopes to do two things. The first is to argue that this initial thought is mistaken: intentionally biased inquiry is impossible. The second is to show that reflections on intentionally biased inquiry s…Read more
  • Noûs, EarlyView.
  • Risk aversion and the long run
    Ethics 129 (2): 230-253. 2018.
    This article argues that Lara Buchak’s risk-weighted expected utility theory fails to offer a true alternative to expected utility theory. Under commonly held assumptions about dynamic choice and the framing of decision problems, rational agents are guided by their attitudes to temporally extended courses of action. If so, REU theory makes approximately the same recommendations as expected utility theory. Being more permissive about dynamic choice or framing, however, undermines the theory’s cla…Read more