•  44
    Blame is fascinating yet elusive, and it is both of these things because it is so complex. It seems to have a cognitive aspect (the belief that someone has done wrong, perhaps), but it also seems to have an emotional aspect (resentment at being disrespected, perhaps). And then of course there is the outside-of-the-head aspect of blame, which manifests itself in rebukes and reprimands, accusations and distrust, cold shoulders and estrangement. Still, accounts of blame that identify it with belief…Read more
  •  75
    Although it is widely accepted that hypocritical blamers lack the standing to blame others who have committed similar wrongs, an account of what it is that’s lost when someone loses their standing to blame remains elusive. When moral address is inappropriate because it is or would be hypocritical, what is the precise nature of the complaint that the blamed party is entitled to raise, and that so often gets voiced as “I don’t have to take that from you”? In this paper I argue that extant answers …Read more
  •  31
    Silence & Salience: On Being Judgmental
    In Sebastian Schmidt & Ernst Gerhard (eds.), The Ethics of Belief and Beyond: Understanding Mental Normativity, Routledge. forthcoming.
    This chapter explores the concept of judgmentalism: what it is and why it’s morally problematic. After criticizing an account offered by Gary Watson, the paper argues for a broader understanding of what it is to be judgmental, encompassing not just the overall beliefs that we form about someone else, but also the very pattern of our thoughts about those with whom we are involved in interpersonal relationships. The thesis is that to care about someone is to be oriented toward them, or to see them…Read more
  •  2
    No one has written more insightfully on the promises and perils of human agency than Gary Watson, who has spent a career thinking about issues such as moral responsibility, blame, free will, addiction, and psychopathy. This special edition of OSAR pays tribute to Watson's work by taking up and extending themes from his pioneering essays
  •  53
    Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility (review)
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4): 809-812. 2012.
  •  354
    Pride in Christian Philosophy and Theology
    In J. Adam Carter Emma C. Gordon (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Pride, Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 211-234. 2017.
    Our focus in this chapter will be the role the pride has played, both historically and contemporarily, in Christian theology and philosophical theology. We begin by delineating a number of different types of pride, since some types are positive (e.g., when a parent tells a daughter “I’m proud of you for being brave”), and others are negative (e.g., “Pride goes before a fall”) or even vicious. We then explore the role that the negative emotion and vice play in the history of Christianity, with pa…Read more
  •  20
    Free Will and Two Local Determinisms
    with Andrew Law
    Erkenntnis 84 (5): 1011-1023. 2019.
    Hudson has formulated two local deterministic theses and argued that both are incompatible with freedom. We argue that Hudson has half the story right. Moreover, reflection on Hudson’s theses brings out an important point for debates about freedom generally: that instead of focusing on the notion of entailment, debates about freedom should focus on the notions of explanation and sourcehood. Hudson’s theses provide an excellent case study for why the latter notions ought to take precedence over t…Read more
  •  40
    Carolina Sartorio: Causation and Free Will
    Journal of Philosophy 113 (8): 417-422. 2016.
  •  65
    Blame: Its Nature and Norms
    Oxford University Press USA. 2013.
    One mark of interpersonal relationships is a tendency to blame. But what precise evaluations and responses constitute blame? Is it most centrally a judgment, or is it an emotion, or something else? Does blame express a demand, or embody a protest, or does it simply mark an impaired relationship? What accounts for its force or sting, and how similar is it to punishment?The essays in this volume explore answers to these questions about the nature of blame, but they also explore the various norms t…Read more
  •  63
    Regretting the Impossible
    In Jacob Goodson (ed.), William James, Moral Philosophy, and the Ethical Life, Lexington Books. pp. 121-139. 2018.
    In his classic essay, "The Dilemma of Determinism", William James argues that the truth of determinism would make regret irrational. Given the central role of regret in our moral lives, James concludes that determinism is false. In this paper I explore the attitude of regret and show that James's argument is mistaken. Not only can we rationally regret events that were determined to occur, but we can also rationally regret events that had to occur.
  •  135
    Blame
    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2014.
    In this entry we provide a critical review of recent work on the nature and ethics of blame, including issues of moral standing.
  •  68
    The Hybrid Nature of Promissory Obligation
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 35 (3). 2007.
    How do promissory obligations get created? Some have thought that the answer to this question must make reference to our social practice of promising. Recently, however, T.M. Scanlon has argued (in his book What We Owe to Each Other) for a pure ‘expectation view’ of promising, according to which promissory obligations arise as a result of our producing certain expectations in others. He formulates a principle of fidelity (Principle F) that tells us when one has gained an obligation due to pro…Read more
  •  8
    Free Will: Sourcehood and Its Alternatives (review)
    Faith and Philosophy 28 (2): 239-243. 2011.
  •  85
    Why Frankfurt-Examples Don’t Need to Succeed to Succeed
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (3): 551-565. 2010.
    In this paper we argue that defenders of Frankfurt-style counterexamples to the Principle of Alternative Possibilities do not need to construct a metaphysically possible scenario in which an agent is morally responsible despite lacking the ability to do otherwise. Rather, there is a weaker (but equally legitimate) sense in which Frankfurt-style counterexamples can succeed. All that's needed is the claim that the ability to do otherwise is no part of what grounds moral responsibility, when the ag…Read more
  •  104
    Blame and Avoidability: A Reply to Otsuka
    with John Martin Fischer
    The Journal of Ethics 14 (1). 2010.
    In a fascinating recent article, Michael Otsuka seeks to bypass the debates about the Principle of Alternative Possibilities by presenting and defending a different, but related, principle, which he calls the “Principle of Avoidable Blame.” According to this principle, one is blameworthy for performing an act only if one could instead have behaved in an entirely blameless manner. Otsuka claims that although Frankfurt-cases do undermine the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, they do not unde…Read more
  •  278
    Incompatibilism and the Fixity of the Past
    with John Martin Fischer
    In John Keller (ed.), Being, Freedom, and Method: Themes From the Philosophy of Peter van Inwagen, Oxford University Press. pp. 140-148. 2017.
    A style of argument that calls into question our freedom (in the sense that involves freedom to do otherwise) has been around for millennia; it can be traced back to Origen. The argument-form makes use of the crucial idea that the past is over-and-done-with and thus fixed; we cannot now do anything about the distant past (or, for that matter, the recent past)—it is now too late. Peter van Inwagen has presented this argument (what he calls the Consequence Argument) in perhaps its clearest and mos…Read more
  •  44
    Reactive Attitudes and Volitional Necessity
    Journal of Value Inquiry 48 (4): 677-689. 2014.
    In this paper I argue that Harry Frankfurt's work (both on volitional necessity and on Descartes) can help us to understand the argument that is at the heart of P. F. Strawson's classic article, "Freedom and Resentment". Strawson seems to say that it is both idle and irrelevant to ask whether the participant attitude (the framework within which we see others as morally responsible agents) is justified, but many have been puzzled by these remarks. In this paper I contend that we can better unders…Read more
  •  111
    Blameworthiness and the Affective Account of Blame
    Philosophia 41 (4): 1299-1312. 2013.
    One of the most influential accounts of blame—the affective account—takes its cue from P.F. Strawson’s discussion of the reactive attitudes. To blame someone, on this account, is to target her with resentment, indignation, or (in the case of self-blame) guilt. Given the connection between these emotions and the demand for regard that is arguably central to morality, the affective account is quite plausible. Recently, however, George Sher has argued that the affective account of blame, as underst…Read more
  •  94
    The logic of theological incompatibilism: a reply to Westphal
    with John Martin Fischer
    Analysis 73 (1): 46-48. 2013.
    In our paper, "Omniscience, Freedom, and Dependence" (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88: 346-367), we argued that recent attempts (by Merricks, McCall, and Westphal) to resolve the dilemma of freedom and foreknowledge fail because they are question-begging. Westphal replied to our paper in an earlier issue of Analysis, and this article is our rejoinder to his reply.
  •  83
    The Structure of a Manipulation Argument
    Ethics 124 (2): 358-369. 2014.
    The most prominent recent attack on compatibilism about determinism and moral responsibility is the so-called manipulation argument, which presents an allegedly responsibility-undermining manipulation case and then points out that the relevant facts of that case are no different from the facts that obtain in an ordinary deterministic world. In a recent article in this journal, however, Matt King presents a dilemma for proponents of this argument, according to which the argument either leads to a…Read more
  •  596
    The Contours of Blame
    In D. Justin Coates & Neal A. Tognazzini (eds.), Blame: Its Nature and Norms, Oxford University Press. pp. 3-26. 2013.
    This is the first chapter to our edited collection of essays on the nature and ethics of blame. In this chapter we introduce the reader to contemporary discussions about blame and its relationship to other issues (e.g. free will and moral responsibility), and we situate the essays in this volume with respect to those discussions.
  •  71
    Understanding Source Incompatibilism
    Modern Schoolman 88 (1/2): 73-88. 2011.
    Source incompatibilism is an increasingly popular version of incompatibilism about determinism and moral responsibility. However, many self-described source incompatibilists formulate the thesis differently, resulting in conceptual confusion that can obscure the relationship between source incompatibilism and other views in the neighborhood. In this paper I canvas various formulations of the thesis in the literature and argue in favor of one as the least likely to lead to conceptual confusion. I…Read more
  •  91
    Grounding the Luck Objection
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (1): 127-138. 2015.
    Many object to libertarianism by arguing that it manages to solve one problem of luck only by falling prey to another . According to this objection, there is something freedom-undermining about the very circumstances that the libertarian thinks are required for freedom. However, it has proved difficult to articulate precisely what it is about these circumstances that is supposed to undermine freedom—the absence of certain sorts of explanations has perhaps been the most common complaint. In this …Read more
  •  34
    This special volume of Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility presents ten new papers marking the fiftieth anniversary of P. F. Strawson's landmark essay, 'Freedom and Resentment'. They offer critical interpretation of Strawson's essay, expand on his insights into interpersonal relationships, and develop his themes in challenging directions.
  •  24
    Exploring evil and philosophical failure: A critical notice of Peter Van inwagen’s the problem of evil
    with John Martin Fischer
    Faith and Philosophy 24 (4): 458-474. 2007.
    In his recent book on the problem of evil, Peter van Inwagen argues that both the global and local arguments from evil are failures. In this paper, we engagevan Inwagen’s book at two main points. First, we consider his understanding of what it takes for a philosophical argument to succeed. We argue that whilehis criterion for success is interesting and helpful, there is good reason to think it is too stringent. Second, we consider his responses to the global andlocal arguments from evil. We argu…Read more
  •  148
    Responsibility
    In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Wiley-blackwell. pp. 4592-4602. 2013.
    In this encyclopedia entry I sketch the way contemporary theorists understand moral responsibility -- its varieties, its requirements, and its puzzles.
  •  33
    Review of George Sher, Who Knew? Responsibility Without Awareness (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (1). 2010.
  •  158
    Exploring Evil and Philosophical Failure: A Critical Notice of Peter van Inwagen's *The Problem of Evil
    with John Martin Fischer
    Faith and Philosophy 24 (4): 458-474. 2007.
    In his recent book on the problem of evil, Peter van Inwagen argues that both the global and local arguments from evil are failures. In this paper, we engagevan Inwagen’s book at two main points. First, we consider his understanding of what it takes for a philosophical argument to succeed. We argue that while his criterion for success is interesting and helpful, there is good reason to think it is too stringent. Second, we consider his responses to the global and local arguments from evil. We ar…Read more
  •  190
    The Physiognomy of Responsibility
    with John Martin Fischer
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (2): 381-417. 2011.
    Our aim in this paper is to put the concept of moral responsibility under a microscope. At the lowest level of magnification, it appears unified. But Gary Watson has taught us that if we zoom in, we will find that moral responsibility has two faces: attributability and accountability. Or, to describe the two faces in different terms, there is a difference between being responsible and holding responsible. It is one thing to talk about the connection the agent has with her action; it is quite ano…Read more