•  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
    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.
  •  110
    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
  •  106
    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
  •  130
    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.
  •  174
    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
  •  342
    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
  •  190
    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.
  •  33
    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
  •  362
    In a recent paper, Gray, Knickman, and Wegner present three experiments which they take to show that people perceive patients in a persistent vegetative state to have less mentality than the dead. Following on from Gomes and Parrott, we provide evidence to show that participants' responses in the initial experiments are an artifact of the questions posed. Results from two experiments show that, once the questions have been clarified, people do not ascribe more mental capacity to the dead than to…Read more
  •  176
    Kriegel on the Phenomenology of Action
    Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 7 (2): 264-272. 2016.
    : I focus on Uriah Kriegel’s account of conative phenomenology. I agree with Kriegel’s argument that some conative phenomenology is primitive in that some conative phenomenal properties cannot be reduced to another kind of property. I disagree, however, with Kriegel’s specific characterization of the properties in question. Kriegel argues that the experience of deciding-and-then-trying is the core of conative phenomenology. I argue, however, that the experiences of trying and acting better occup…Read more
  •  584
    Scientific Challenges to Free Will and Moral Responsibility
    Philosophy Compass 10 (3): 197-207. 2015.
    Here, I review work from three lines of research in cognitive science often taken to threaten free will and moral responsibility. This work concerns conscious deciding, the experience of acting, and the role of largely unnoticed situational influences on behavior. Whether this work in fact threatens free will and moral responsibility depends on how we ought to interpret it, and depends as well on the nature of free and responsible behavior. I discuss different ways this work has been interpreted…Read more
  •  2066
    Consciousness and morality
    with Neil Levy
    In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    It is well known that the nature of consciousness is elusive, and that attempts to understand it generate problems in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, psychology, and neuroscience. Less appreciated are the important – even if still elusive – connections between consciousness and issues in ethics. In this chapter we consider three such connections. First, we consider the relevance of consciousness for questions surrounding an entity’s moral status. Second, we consider the relevance of consciousne…Read more
  •  825
    The contours of control
    Philosophical Studies 170 (3): 395-411. 2014.
    Necessarily, if S lacks the ability to exercise control, S is not an agent. If S is not an agent, S cannot act intentionally, responsibly, or rationally, nor can S possess or exercise free will. In spite of the obvious importance of control, however, no general account of control exists. In this paper I reflect on the nature of control itself. I develop accounts of control ’s exercise and control ’s possession that illuminate what it is for degrees of control —that is, the degree of control an a…Read more