•  35
    All Reasons Are Fundamentally For Attitudes
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy. forthcoming.
  •  98
    How Important Are Possessed Reasons?
    Analysis 81 (1): 156-167. 2021.
    Central to Errol Lord’s The Importance of Being Rational is the notion of a possessed (objective, normative) reason. For Lord, rationality is a matter of correctly responding to possessed reasons, what rationality requires and permits is that we react in ways that are appropriate given our possessed reasons, and we ought – full stop – to react in ways that are decisively supported by our possessed reasons. Thus for Lord, possessed (objective, normative) reasons are very important indeed. This pa…Read more
  •  253
    A Puzzle about Enkratic Reasoning
    Philosophical Studies. forthcoming.
    Enkratic reasoning – reasoning from believing that you ought to do something to an intention to do that thing – seems good. But there is a puzzle about how it could be. Good reasoning preserves correctness, other things equal. But enkratic reasoning does not preserve correctness. This is because what you ought to do depends on your epistemic position, but what it is correct to intend does not. In this paper, I motivate these claims and thus show that there is a puzzle. I then argue that the best…Read more
  •  581
    What is Good Reasoning?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 153-174. 2018.
    What makes the difference between good and bad reasoning? In this paper we defend a novel account of good reasoning—both theoretical and practical—according to which it preserves fittingness or correctness: good reasoning is reasoning which is such as to take you from fitting attitudes to further fitting attitudes, other things equal. This account, we argue, is preferable to two others that feature in the recent literature. The first, which has been made prominent by John Broome, holds that the …Read more
  •  417
    Two Arguments for Evidentialism
    Philosophical Quarterly 66 (265): 805-818. 2016.
    Evidentialism is the thesis that all reasons to believe p are evidence for p. Pragmatists hold that pragmatic considerations – incentives for believing – can also be reasons to believe. Nishi Shah, Thomas Kelly and others have argued for evidentialism on the grounds that incentives for belief fail a ‘reasoning constraint’ on reasons: roughly, reasons must be considerations we can reason from, but we cannot reason from incentives to belief. In the first half of the paper, I show that this argumen…Read more
  •  488
    Against the Taking Condition
    Philosophical Issues 26 (1): 314-331. 2016.
    According to Paul Boghossian and others, inference is subject to the taking condition: it necessarily involves the thinker taking his premises to support his conclusion, and drawing the conclusion because of that fact. Boghossian argues that this condition vindicates the idea that inference is an expression of agency, and that it has several other important implications too. However, we argue in this paper that the taking condition should be rejected. The condition gives rise to several serious …Read more
  •  668
    Value and reasons to favour
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 8. 2013.
    This paper defends a 'fitting attitudes' view of value on which what it is for something to be good is for there to be reasons to favour that thing. The first section of the paper defends a 'linking principle' connecting reasons and value. The second and third sections argue that this principle is better explained by a fitting-attitudes view than by 'value-first' views on which reasons are explained in terms of value.
  •  319
    Defending the wide-scope approach to instrumental reason
    Philosophical Studies 147 (2). 2010.
    The Wide-Scope approach to instrumental reason holds that the requirement to intend the necessary means to your ends should be understood as a requirement to either intend the means, or else not intend the end. In this paper I explain and defend a neglected version of this approach. I argue that three serious objections to Wide-Scope accounts turn on a certain assumption about the nature of the reasons that ground the Wide-Scope requirement. The version of the Wide-Scope approach defended here a…Read more
  •  637
    Explaining the Instrumental Principle
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3): 487-506. 2012.
    The Wide-Scope view of instrumental reason holds that you should not intend an end without also intending what you believe to be the necessary means. This, the Wide-Scoper claims, provides the best account of why failing to intend the believed means to your end is a rational failing. But Wide-Scopers have struggled to meet a simple Explanatory Challenge: why shouldn't you intend an end without intending the necessary means? What reason is there not to do so? In the first half of this paper, I ar…Read more
  •  929
    Reasons and Rationality
    In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    This article gives an overview of some recent debates about the relationship between reasons and rational requirements of coherence - e.g. the requirements to be consistent in our beliefs and intentions, and to intend what we take to be the necessary means to our ends.
  •  234
    Transmission and the Wrong Kind of Reason
    Ethics 122 (3): 489-515. 2012.
    According to fitting-attitudes accounts of value, the valuable is what there is sufficient reason to value. Such accounts face the famous wrong kind of reason problem. For example, if an evil demon threatens to kill you unless you value him, it may appear that you have sufficient reason to value the demon, although he is not valuable. One solution to this problem is to deny that the demon’s threat is a reason to value him. It is instead a reason to want to value the demon, and to bring it about …Read more
  •  953
    Fittingness First
    Ethics 126 (3): 575-606. 2016.
    According to the fitting-attitudes account of value, for X to be good is for it to be fitting to value X. But what is it for an attitude to be fitting? A popular recent view is that it is for there to be sufficient reason for the attitude. In this paper we argue that proponents of the fitting-attitudes account should reject this view and instead take fittingness as basic. In this way they avoid the notorious ‘wrong kind of reason’ problem, and can offer attractive accounts of reasons and good re…Read more
  •  584
    Intentions, akrasia, and mere permissibility
    Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 20 (4): 588-611. 2013.
  •  586
    Instrumental Rationality
    In Tim Crane (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philsophy, Routledge. 2013.
    This is a short introductory article. I focus on three questions: What is instrumental rationality? What are the principles of instrumental rationality? Could instrumental rationality be all of practical rationality?
  •  509
    Two Accounts of the Normativity of Rationality
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 4 (1): 1-9. 2009.
    Recent views of reasons and rationality make it plausible that it can sometimes be rational to do what you have no reason to do. A number of writers have concluded that if this is so, rationality is not normative. But this is a mistake. Even if we assume a tight connection between reasons and normativity, the normativity of rationality does not require that there is always reason to be rational. The first half of this paper illustrates this point with reference to the subjective reasons account …Read more
  •  830
    The Normativity of Rationality
    Philosophy Compass 5 (12): 1057-1068. 2010.
    This article is an introduction to the recent debate about whether rationality is normative – that is, very roughly, about whether we should have attitudes which fit together in a coherent way. I begin by explaining an initial problem – the “detaching problem” – that arises on the assumption that we should have coherent attitudes. I then explain the prominent “wide-scope” solution to this problem, and some of the central objections to it. I end by considering the options that arise if we reject …Read more
  •  1143
    What is Reasoning?
    Mind 127 (505): 167-196. 2018.
    Reasoning is a certain kind of attitude-revision. What kind? The aim of this paper is to introduce and defend a new answer to this question, based on the idea that reasoning is a goodness-fixing kind. Our central claim is that reasoning is a functional kind: it has a constitutive point or aim that fixes the standards for good reasoning. We claim, further, that this aim is to get fitting attitudes. We start by considering recent accounts of reasoning due to Ralph Wedgwood and John Broome, and arg…Read more
  •  1167
    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
  •  342
    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
  •  256
    The symmetry of rational requirements
    Philosophical Studies 155 (2): 227-239. 2011.
    Some irrational states can be avoided in more than one way. For example, if you believe that you ought to A you can avoid akrasia by intending to A or by dropping the belief that you ought to A. This supports the claim that some rational requirements are wide-scope. For instance, the requirement against akrasia is a requirement to intend to A or not believe that you ought to A. But some writers object that this Wide-Scope view ignores asymmetries between the different ways of avoiding irrational…Read more
  •  10
    Normativity: Epistemic and Practical (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2018.
    What should I do? What should I think? Traditionally, ethicists tackle the first question, while epistemologists tackle the second. Philosophers have tended to investigate the issue of what to do independently of the issue of what to think, that is, to do ethics independently of epistemology, and vice versa. This collection of new essays by leading philosophers focuses on a central concern of both epistemology and ethics: normativity. Normativity is a matter of what one should or may do or think…Read more
  •  351
    Creditworthiness and Matching Principles
    In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Vol 7, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    You are creditworthy for φ-ing only if φ-ing is the right thing to do. Famously though, further conditions are needed too – Kant’s shopkeeper did the right thing, but is not creditworthy for doing so. This case shows that creditworthiness requires that there be a certain kind of explanation of why you did the right thing. The reasons for which you act – your motivating reasons – must meet some further conditions. In this paper, I defend a new account of these conditions. On this account, creditw…Read more
  •  361
    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