Princeton University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1995
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Freedom, Coercion and Discursive Control
    In Geoffrey Brennan, Robert Goodin, Frank Jackson & Michael Smith (eds.), Common Minds: Themes From the Philosophy of Philip Pettit, Clarendon Press. 2007.
  •  25
    Memory, Persons and Dementia
    Studies in Christian Ethics 29 (3): 256-260. 2016.
    Memory is a complex phenomenon, so the loss of memory that occurs in dementia is equally complex. Accounts that deny personhood to dementia sufferers typically fail to accommodate that complexity.
  •  18
    Not Thinking About the Worst
    The Philosophers' Magazine 90 50-53. 2020.
  •  23
    The Illusion of Conscious Will
    Mind 113 (449): 218-221. 2004.
  •  13
    Too much medicine and the poor climate of trust
    with Zoe Fritz
    Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (11): 748-749. 2019.
    Joshua Parker has made many interesting points1, and we welcome the opportunity to develop the ideas of ‘Too Much Medicine, Not Enough Trust’.2 We will address: the asymmetry between the trust that patients extend to doctors, and the trust that doctors extend to patients; our reasons for doubting that litigation or complaints reflect a betrayal of the patient–doctor relationship and the importance of institutional trust, both for the doctor and the patient. First, though, a clarification. We do …Read more
  •  64
    Lying About
    Journal of Philosophy 116 (2): 99-105. 2019.
    We do not report lies with that-clauses but with about-clauses: he lied about x. It is argued that this is because the content of a lie need not be the content of what is said, and about-clauses give us the requisite flexibility. Building on the work of Stephen Yablo, an attempt is made to give an account of lying about in terms of partial content and topic.
  •  119
    Self-control in the modern provocation defence
    with Stephen Shute
    Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 27 (1): 49-73. 2007.
    Most recent discussion of the provocation defence has focused on the objective test, and little attention has been paid to the subjective test. However, the subjective test provides a substantial constraint: the killing must result from a provocation that undermines the defendant's self-control. The idea of loss of self-control has been developed in both the philosophical and psychological literatures. Understanding the subjective test in the light of the conception developed there makes for a f…Read more
  •  23
    Animals and Alternatives
    with Rae Langton
    The Philosophers' Magazine 81 14-15. 2018.
  •  25
    The case for open access
    The Philosophers' Magazine 65 10-13. 2014.
  •  8
  •  36
    Some telling examples: A reply to Tsohatzidis
    Journal of Pragmatics 28 625-628. 1997.
    In a recent paper Savas Tsohatzidis has provided a number of putative counterexamples to the well-attested Kartunnen-Vendler (K-V) thesis that the use of 'tell' with a wh-complement requires that the speaker spoke truthfully. His counterexamples are sentences like: (1) Old John told us who he saw in the fog, but it turned out that he was mistaken. I argue that such examples do not serve to refute the K-V thesis. Rather, they are examples of a more general phenomenon that I label participant proj…Read more
  •  145
    Willing, Wanting, Waiting
    Oxford University Press UK. 2009.
    Richard Holton provides a unified account of intention, choice, weakness of will, strength of will, temptation, addiction, and freedom of the will. Drawing on recent psychological research, he argues that, rather than being the pinnacle of rationality, the central components of the will are there to compensate for our inability to make or maintain sound judgments. Choice is understood as the capacity to form intentions even in the absence of judgments of what action is best. Weakness of will is …Read more
  •  216
    The act of choice
    Philosophers' Imprint 6 1-15. 2006.
    Choice is one of the central elements in the experience of free will, but it has not received a good account from either compatibilists or libertarians. This paper develops an account of choice based around three features: (i) choice is an action; (ii) choice is not determined by one's prior beliefs and desires; (iii) once the question of what to do has arisen, choice is typically both necessary and sufficient for moving to action. These features might appear to support a libertarian account, bu…Read more
  •  209
    Leapfrogging and Scope: Reply to Pickles
    Mind 104 (415): 583-584. 1995.
  •  261
    What is the role of the self in self-deception?
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 101 (1): 53-69. 2001.
    The orthodox answer to my question is this: in a case of self-deception, the self acts to deceive itself. That is, the self is the author of its own deception. I want to explore an opposing idea here: that the self is rather the subject matter of the deception. That is, I want to explore the idea that self-deception is more concerned with the self’s deception about the self, than with the self’s deception by the self. The expression would thus be semantically comparable to expressions like ‘self…Read more
  •  187
    Rational resolve
    Philosophical Review 113 (4): 507-535. 2004.
    Empirical findings suggest that temptation causes agents not only to change their desires, but also to revise their beliefs, in ways that are not necessarily irrational. But if this is so, how can it be rational to maintain a resolution to resist? For in maintaining a resolution it appears that one will be acting against what one now believes to be best. This paper proposes a two-tier account according to which it can be rational neither to reconsider the question of what one is going to do nor …Read more
  •  51
  •  2518
    The Exception Proves the Rule
    Journal of Political Philosophy 18 (4): 369-388. 2010.
    When faced with a rule that they take to be true, and a recalcitrant example, people are apt to say: “The exception proves the rule”. When pressed on what they mean by this though, things are often less than clear. A common response is to dredge up some once-heard etymology: ‘proves’ here, it is often said, means ‘tests’. But this response—its frequent appearance even in some reference works notwithstanding1—makes no sense of the way in which the expression is used. To insist that the exception …Read more
  •  81
    Reason, value and the muggletonians
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (3). 1996.
    Michael Smith has argued that to value an action is to believe that if one were fully rational one would desire that one perform it. I offer the Muggletonians as a counter-example. The Muggletonians, a 17th century English sect, believed that reason was the path of the Devil. They believed that their fully rational selves - rational in just Smith's sense - would have blasphemed against God; and that their rational selves would have wanted their actual selves to do likewise. But blaspheming again…Read more
  •  77
    Review: The Illusion of Conscious Will (review)
    Mind 113 (449): 218-221. 2004.
  •  1
    The case for open access
    The Philosophers' Magazine 65 10-13. 2014.
  •  48
    In (Holton 1996) I argued that the account of value that Michael Smith has offered was vulnerable to a counter-example in the person of the Muggletonians. Smith argued, roughly, that what one values is what one would desire if one were fully rational. I objected that the Muggletonians held the path of Reason to be the path to evil. According to them, a fully rational person would have their desires so corrupted that they would become, quite literally, Satan. Thus they believed that their fully r…Read more
  •  1413
    What in the World is Weakness of Will?
    with Joshua May
    Philosophical Studies 157 (3). 2012.
    At least since the middle of the twentieth century, philosophers have tended to identify weakness of will with akrasia—i.e. acting, or having a disposition to act, contrary to one‘s judgments about what is best for one to do. However, there has been some recent debate about whether this captures the ordinary notion of weakness of will. Richard Holton (1999, 2009) claims that it doesn’t, while Alfred Mele (2010) argues that, to a certain extent, it does. As Mele recognizes, the question about an…Read more
  •  33
    The Good/Bad Asymmetry
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 35 (1): 26-32. 2018.
  •  178
    Ramsey on saying and whistling: A discordant note
    with Huw Price
    Noûs 37 (2). 2003.
    In 'General Propositions and Causality' Ramsey rejects his earlier view that universal generalizations are infinite conjunctions, arguing that they are not genuine propositions at all. We argue that his new position is unstable. The issues about infinity that lead Ramsey to the new view are essentially those underlying Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations. If they show that generalizations are not genuine propositions, they show that there are no genuine propositions. The connection rais…Read more
  •  138
    Primitive Self-Ascription: Lewis on the De Se
    In Barry Loewer & Jonathan Schaffer (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to David Lewis, Blackwell. forthcoming.
    There are two parts to Lewis's account of the de se. First there is the idea that the objects of de se thought (and, by extension of de dicto thought too) are properties, not propositions. This is the idea that is center-stage in Lewis's discussion. Second there is the idea that the relation that thinkers bear to these properties is that of self-ascription. It is crucial to LewisÕs account that this is understood as a fundamental, unanalyzable, notion: self-ascription of a property is not ascrip…Read more
  •  171
    Minimalism and Truth-Value Gaps
    Philosophical Studies 97 (2): 137-168. 2000.
    The question is asked whether one can consistently both be a minimalist about truth, and hold that some meaningful assertoric sentences fail to be either true or false. It is shown that one can, but the issues are delicate, and the price is high: one must either refrain from saying that the sentences lack truth values, or else one must invoke a novel non-contraposing three-valued conditional. Finally it is shown that this does not help in reconciling minimalism with emotivism, where this latter …Read more