•  43
    Knowledge, practical knowledge, and intentional action
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    We argue that any strong version of a knowledge condition on intentional action, the practical knowledge principle, on which knowledge of what I am doing (under some description: call it A-ing) is necessary for that A-ing to qualify as an intentional action, is false. Our argument involves a new kind of case, one that centers the agent’s control appropriately and thus improves upon Davidson’s well-known carbon copier case. After discussing this case, offering an initial argument against the know…Read more
  •  4
    Moral Psychology, Volume 4 (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 5 (19). 2014.
  •  1
    How we understand others (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 8 (38). 2018.
  •  97
    Flow and the dynamics of conscious thought
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1-20. forthcoming.
    The flow construct has been influential within positive psychology, sport psychology, the science of consciousness, the philosophy of agency, and popular culture. In spite of its longstanding influence, it remains unclear [a] how the constituents of the flow state ‘hang together’ – how they relate to each other causally and functionally – [b] in what sense flow is an ‘optimal experience,’ and [c] how best to describe the unique phenomenology of the flow state. As a result, difficulties persist f…Read more
  •  12
    Corrigendum
    Mind 130 (517): 377-377. 2021.
  •  95
    Practical structure and moral skill
    Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
    I argue that moral skill is limited and precarious. It is limited because global moral skill – the capacity for morally excellent behavior within an über action domain, such as the domain of living, or of all-things-considered decisions, or the same kind of capacity applied across a superset of more specific action domains – is not to be found in humans. It is precarious because relatively local moral skill, while possible, is prone to misfire. My arguments depend upon the diversity of practical…Read more
  •  14
    Mapping the Ethical Issues of Brain Organoid Research and Application
    with Tsutomu Sawai, Yoshiyuki Hayashi, Takuya Niikawa, Elizabeth Thomas, Tsung-Ling Lee, Alexandre Erler, Momoko Watanabe, and Hideya Sakaguchi
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 1-14. forthcoming.
  •  114
    Unconscious perception and central coordinating agency
    Philosophical Studies 178 (12): 3869-3893. 2021.
    One necessary condition on any adequate account of perception is clarity regarding whether unconscious perception exists. The issue is complicated, and the debate is growing in both philosophy and science. In this paper we consider the case for unconscious perception, offering three primary achievements. First, we offer a discussion of the underspecified notion of central coordinating agency, a notion that is critical for arguments that purportedly perceptual states are not attributable to the i…Read more
  •  108
    The moral status of conscious subjects
    In Stephen Clarke, Hazem Zohny & Julian Savulescu (eds.), Rethinking Moral Status. forthcoming.
    The chief themes of this discussion are as follows. First, we need a theory of the grounds of moral status that could guide practical considerations regarding how to treat the wide range of potentially conscious entities with which we are acquainted – injured humans, cerebral organoids, chimeras, artificially intelligent machines, and non-human animals. I offer an account of phenomenal value that focuses on the structure and sophistication of phenomenally conscious states at a time and over time…Read more
  • Disabilities and wellbeing: The bad and the neutral
    In Adam Cureton & David Wasserman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Disability, Oxford University Press. 2020.
    This chapter argues for a normative distinction between disabilities that are inherently negative with respect to wellbeing and disabilities that are inherently neutral with respect to wellbeing. First, after clarifying terms I discuss recent arguments according to which possession of a disability is inherently neutral with respect to wellbeing. I note that though these arguments are compelling, they are only intended to cover certain disabilities, and in fact there exists a broad class regardin…Read more
  •  131
    The Shape of Agency offers interlinked explanations of the basic building blocks of agency, as well as its exemplary instances. The first part offers accounts of a collection of related phenomena that have long troubled philosophers of action: control over behaviour, non-deviant causation, and intentional action. These accounts build on earlier work in the causalist tradition, and undermine the claims made by many that causalism cannot offer a satisfying account of non-deviant causation, and the…Read more
  •  84
    The targets of skill and their importance
    In Ellen Fridland & Carlotta Pavese (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Skill and Expertise, Routledge. 2020.
  •  177
    Skill and Sensitivity to Reasons
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 12 (3): 669-681. 2021.
    In this paper I explore the relationship between skill and sensitivity to reasons for action. I want to know to what degree we can explain the fact that the skilled agent is very good at performing a cluster of actions within some domain in terms of the fact that the skilled agent has a refined sensitivity to the reasons for action common to the cluster. The picture is a little bit complex. While skill can be partially explained by sensitivity to reasons – a sensitivity often produced by rationa…Read more
  •  343
    Determinism and attributions of consciousness
    Philosophical Psychology 33 (4): 549-568. 2020.
    The studies we report indicate that it is possible to manipulate explicit ascriptions of consciousness by manipulating whether an agent’s behavior is deterministically caused. In addition, we explore whether this impact of determinism on consciousness is direct, or mediated by notions linked to agency – notions like moral responsibility, free will, deliberate choice, and sensitivity to moral reasons. We provide evidence of mediation. This result extends work on attributions of consciousness and …Read more
  •  152
    Why does the mind wander?
    Neuroscience of Consciousness. forthcoming.
    I seek an explanation for the etiology and the function of mind wandering episodes. My proposal – which I call the cognitive control proposal – is that mind wandering is a form of non-conscious guidance due to cognitive control. When the agent’s current goal is deemed insufficiently rewarding, the cognitive control system initiates a search for a new, more rewarding goal. This search is the process of unintentional mind wandering. After developing the proposal, and relating it to literature on m…Read more
  •  24
    Self-Association and Attentional Processing Regarding Perceptually Salient Items
    with Alejandra Sel, Jie Sui, and Glyn Humphreys
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (4): 735-746. 2019.
    Earlier work has demonstrated that attention is indirectly cognitively malleable by processes of self-association – processes by which agents explicitly associate an item with the self. We extend this work by considering the manipulation of attention to both salient and non-salient objects. We demonstrate that self-association impacts attentional processing not only of non-salient objects, but also regarding salient items known to command attention. This result indicates the flexibility and susc…Read more
  •  103
    Knowledge-how, Understanding-why and Epistemic Luck: an Experimental Study
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (4): 701-734. 2019.
    Reductive intellectualists about knowledge-how hold, contra Ryle, that knowing how to do something is just a kind of propositional knowledge. In a similar vein, traditional reductivists about understanding-why insist, in accordance with a tradition beginning with Aristotle, that the epistemic standing one attains when one understands why something is so is itself just a kind of propositional knowledge—viz., propositional knowledge of causes. A point that has been granted on both sides of these d…Read more
  •  282
    My topic is the intelligent guidance of action. In this paper I offer an empirically grounded case for four ideas: that [a] cognitive processes of practical reasoning play a key role in the intelligent guidance of action, [b] these processes could not do so without significant enabling work done by both perception and the motor system, [c] the work done by perceptual and motor systems can be characterized as the generation of information specialized for action guidance, which in turn suggests th…Read more
  •  47
    In this interesting paper, Lavazza and Massimini draw attention to a subset of the ethical issues surrounding the development and potential uses of cerebral organoids. This subset concerns the possibility that cerebral organoids may one day develop phenomenal consciousness, and thereby qualify as conscious subjects—that there may one day be something it is like to be an advanced cerebral organoid. This possibility may feel outlandish. But as Lavazza and Massimini demonstrate, the science of orga…Read more
  •  37
    Halfhearted Action and Control
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4. 2017.
    Some of the things we do intentionally we do halfheartedly. I develop and defend an account of halfheartedness with respect to action on which one is halfhearted with respect to an action A if one’s overall motivation to A is weak. This requires getting clear on what it is to have some level of overall motivation with respect to an action, and on what it means to say one’s overall motivation is weak or strong. After developing this account, I defend the claim that one key functional expression o…Read more
  •  191
    The Experience of Acting and the Structure of Consciousness
    Journal of Philosophy 114 (8): 422-448. 2017.
    I offer an account of the experience of acting that demonstrates how agentive aspects of experience associated with the execution of intentions are richly integrated with perceptual aspects associated with parts of action taking place in the publicly observable world. On the view I elucidate, the experience of acting is often both an engagement with the world and a type of intimate acquaintance with it. In conscious action the agent consciously intervenes in the world and consciously experiences…Read more
  •  267
    Intending, believing, and supposing at will
    Ratio 31 (3): 321-330. 2018.
    In this paper I consider an argument for the possibility of intending at will, and its relationship to an argument about the possibility of believing at will. I argue that although we have good reason to think we sometimes intend at will, we lack good reason to think this in the case of believing. Instead of believing at will, agents like us often suppose at will.
  •  288
    Minimizing harm via psychological intervention: Response to Glannon
    Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (10): 662-663. 2014.
    In a recent discussion, Walter Glannon discusses a number of ways we might try to minimize harm to patients who experience intraoperative awareness. In this response I direct attention to a possibility that deserves further attention. It might be that a kind of psychological intervention – namely, informing patients of the possibility of intraoperative awareness and of what to expect in such a case – would constitute a unique way to respect patient autonomy, as well as minimize the harm that typ…Read more
  •  680
    Conscious Action/Zombie Action
    Noûs 50 (2): 419-444. 2016.
    I argue that the neural realizers of experiences of trying are not distinct from the neural realizers of actual trying . I then ask how experiences of trying might relate to the perceptual experiences one has while acting. First, I assess recent zombie action arguments regarding conscious visual experience, and I argue that contrary to what some have claimed, conscious visual experience plays a causal role for action control in some circumstances. Second, I propose a multimodal account of the ex…Read more
  •  439
    Argumente für die naturaliste Erkenntnistheorie
    In Stefan Tolksdorf & Dirk Koppleberg (eds.), Erkenntnistheorie: Wie und Wozu?, Mentis Publishers. pp. 245-274. 2015.
  •  146
    Situationism and Agency
    with Alfred R. Mele
    Journal of Practical Ethics 1 (1): 62-83. 2013.
    Research in psychology indicates that situations powerfully impact human behavior. Often, it seems, features of situations drive our behavior even when we remain unaware of these features or their influence. One response to this research is pessimism about human agency: human agents have little conscious control over their own behavior, and little insight into why they do what they do. In this paper we review classic and more recent studies indicating “the power of the situation,” and argue for …Read more
  •  488
    Why Block Can't Stand the HOT
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 20 (3-4): 183-195. 2013.
    Ned Block has recently pressed a new criticism of the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness. HOT proponents have responded in turn. The exchange affords a chance to find some clarity concerning the essential commitments of HOT, as well as a chance to find clarity on the issues that divide Block and HOT proponents. In this paper I discuss the recent exchange, and I draw some lessons. First, I side with HOT proponents in arguing that new criticism presents no new problem for HOT. Seco…Read more
  •  34
    It seems obvious that phenomenally conscious experience is something of great value, and that this value maps onto a range of important ethical issues. For example, claims about the value of life for those in a permanent vegetative state, debates about treatment and study of disorders of consciousness, controversies about end-of-life care for those with advanced dementia, and arguments about the moral status of embryos, fetuses, and non-human animals arguably turn on the moral significance of va…Read more