•  3
    Patient preference predictors (PPPs) promise to provide medical professionals with a new solution to the problem of making treatment decisions on behalf of incapacitated patients. I show that the use of PPPs faces a version of a normative problem familiar from legal scholarship: the problem of naked statistical evidence. I sketch two sorts of possible reply, vindicating and debunking, and suggest that our reply to the problem in the one domain ought to mirror our reply in the other. The conclusi…Read more
  •  19
    Nothing but the Evidential Considerations?
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (2): 343-361. 2016.
    A number of philosophers have claimed that non-evidential considerations cannot play a role in doxastic deliberation as motivating reasons to believe a proposition. This claim, interesting in its own right, naturally lends itself to use in a range of arguments for a wide array of substantive philosophical theses. I argue, by way of a counterexample, that the claim to which all these arguments appeal is false. I then consider, and reply to, seven objections to my counterexample. Finally, as a way…Read more
  •  7
    Rational Coherence in Environmental Policy: Paris, Montreal, and Kigali
    Ethics, Policy and Environment 21 (1): 4-8. 2018.
    In June 2017, President Trump announced that the US intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The decision was widely viewed as an abrogation of US leadership in confronting a changing climate. I’m not interested here in the decision to withdraw from Paris per se. Instead, I’m interested in Paris as a useful contrast for the administration’s attitude towards a different international environmental agreement: the Montreal Protocol.
  •  36
    Promotion as Contrastive Increase in Expected Fit
    Philosophical Studies 1-28. forthcoming.
    What is required for an action to promote the satisfaction of a desire? We reject extant answers and propose an alternative. Our account differs from competing answers in two ways: first, it is contrastive, in that actions promote the satisfaction of desires only as contrasted with other possible actions. Second, it employs a notion of expected fit between desire and world, defined as the weighted sum of the fit between the desire and the world in all possible outcomes, where each weight is give…Read more
  •  109
    Two Problems for Accepting as Intending
    Ethics 128 (3): 626-641. 2018.
    It’s possible to accept or to reject a promise. According to a new proposal by Abraham Roth, accepting a promise involves intending that the promisee perform the promised action. According to Roth, this view is supported by rational symmetries between promissory acceptance and intention. Here, I show how these symmetries actually generate two problems for the view.
  •  101
    The Beliefs and Intentions of Buridan's Ass
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 3 (2): 209-226. 2017.
    The moral of Buridan's Ass is that it can sometimes be rational to perform one action rather than another even though one lacks stronger reason to do so. Yet it is also commonly believed that it cannot ever be rational to believe one proposition rather than another if one lacks stronger reason to do so. This asymmetry has been taken to indicate a deep difference between epistemic and practical rationality. According to the view articulated here, the asymmetry should instead be explained by the d…Read more
  •  12
    A Partial Defense of Permissivism
    Ratio 30 (1): 57-71. 2017.
    Permissivism is the view that sometimes an agent's total evidential state entails both that she is epistemically permitted to believe that P and that she is epistemically permitted to believe that Q, where P and Q are contradictories. Uniqueness is the denial of Permissivism. Permissivism has recently come under attack on several fronts. If these attacks are successful, then we may be forced to accept an unwelcome asymmetry between epistemic and practical rationality. In this essay I clarify the…Read more
  •  31
    Checking the Neighborhood: A Reply to DiPaolo & Behrends on Promotion
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy. 2016.
    In previous work I argued that purely probabilistic accounts of what it takes to promote a desire are mistaken. This is because, I argued, there are desires that it is possible to promote but impossible to probabilistically promote. In a recent article critical of my account, Joshua DiPaolo and Jeffrey Behrends articulate a methodological principle -- Check the Neighborhood -- and claim that respecting this principle rescues pure probabilism from my argument. In this reply, I accept the methodol…Read more
  •  64
    Problems for pure probabilism about promotion (and a disjunctive alternative)
    Philosophical Studies 172 (5): 1371-1386. 2015.
    Humean promotionalists about reasons think that whether there is a reason for an agent to ϕ depends on whether her ϕ-ing promotes the satisfaction of at least one of her desires. Several authors have recently defended probabilistic accounts of promotion, according to which an agent’s ϕ-ing promotes the satisfaction of one of her desires just in case her ϕ-ing makes the satisfaction of that desire more probable relative to some baseline. In this paper I do three things. First, I formalize an argu…Read more
  •  88
    Nothing but the Evidential Considerations?
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (2): 1-19. 2016.
    A number of philosophers have claimed that non-evidential considerations cannot play a role in doxastic deliberation as motivating reasons to believe a proposition. This claim, interesting in its own right, naturally lends itself to use in a range of arguments for a wide array of substantive philosophical theses. I argue, by way of a counterexample, that the claim to which all these arguments appeal is false. I then consider, and reply to, seven objections to my counterexample. Finally, as a way…Read more
  •  125
    Fairness and the Strengths of Agents' Claims
    Utilitas 28 (3): 347-360. 2016.
    John Broome has proposed a theory of fairness according to which fairness requires that agents’ claims to goods be satisfied in proportion to the relative strength of those claims. In the case of competing claims for a single indivisible good, Broome argues that what fairness requires is the use of a weighted lottery as a surrogate to satisfying the competing claims: the relative chance of each claimant's winning the lottery should be set to the relative strength of each claimant's claim. In thi…Read more
  •  314
    Epistemic instrumentalists face a puzzle. In brief, the puzzle is that if the reason there is to believe in accord with the evidence depends, as the instrumentalist says it does, on agents’ idiosyncratic interests, then there is no reason to expect that this reason is universal. Here, I identify and explain two strategies instrumentalists have used to try and solve this puzzle. I then argue that we should find these strategies wanting. Faced with the failure of these strategies, I articulate a h…Read more
  •  42
    Reasons and Promotion
    Philosophical Issues 25 (1): 98-122. 2015.
    A number of philosophers accept promotionalism, the view that whether there is a normative reason for an agent to perform an action or have an attitude depends on whether her doing so promotes a value, desire, interest, goal, or end. I show that promotionalism faces a prima facie problem when it comes to reasons for belief: it looks extensionally inadequate. I then articulate two general strategies promotionalists can used to solve this problem and argue that, even if one of these two strategies…Read more
  •  453
    Reasons Wrong and Right
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (3): 371-399. 2016.
    The fact that someone is generous is a reason to admire them. The fact that someone will pay you to admire them is also a reason to admire them. But there is a difference in kind between these two reasons: the former seems to be the ‘right’ kind of reason to admire, whereas the latter seems to be the ‘wrong’ kind of reason to admire. The Wrong Kind of Reasons Problem is the problem of explaining the difference between the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ kind of reasons wherever it appears. In this artic…Read more
  •  224
    How You Can Reasonably Form Expectations When You're Expecting
    Res Philosophica 92 (2): 1-12. 2015.
    L.A. Paul has argued that an ordinary, natural way of making a decision -- by reflecting on the phenomenal character of the experiences one will have as a result of that decision -- cannot yield rational decision in certain cases. Paul's argument turns on the (in principle) epistemically inaccessible phenomenal character of certain experiences. In this paper I argue that, even granting Paul a range of assumptions, her argument doesn't work to establish its conclusion. This is because, as I argue…Read more
  •  104
    In Defense of Comic Pluralism
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (2): 375-392. 2017.
    Jokes are sometimes morally objectionable, and sometimes they are not. What’s the relationship between a joke’s being morally objectionable and its being funny? Philosophers’ answers to this question run the gamut. In this paper I present a new argument for the view that the negative moral value of a joke can affect its comedic value both positively and negatively.
  •  436
    Schroeder on the Wrong Kind of Reasons Problem for Attitudes
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 7 1-8. 2013.
    Mark Schroeder has recently offered a solution to the problem of distinguishing between the so-called " right " and " wrong " kinds of reasons for attitudes like belief and admiration. Schroeder tries out two different strategies for making his solution work: the alethic strategy and the background-facts strategy. In this paper I argue that neither of Schroeder's two strategies will do the trick. We are still left with the problem of distinguishing the right from the wrong kinds of reasons
  •  57
    In his "May Belief Outstrip Evidence?" (1916) Durant Drake argues that beliefs may sometimes permissibly outstrip evidence. Drake's novel idea is that epistemic reasons are not the final arbiter of the justificatory status of beliefs. In this short note I motivate Drake's idea by suggesting an analogy between the epistemic justification of belief and the moral justification of intention.
  •  31
    Motivational Internalism (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. 2015.
    Motivational Internalism is a collection of thirteen new essays on exactly the topic you expect it to be, given the title. It also contains an introductory chapter, in which the editors attach an excellent overview of the current state of play to an intimidating bibliography. The essays in the volume are divided into three sections, each with its own, shorter, introduction by the editors. The first section concerns evidence for and against motivational internalism; the second concerns the releva…Read more