•  3154
    Grit
    Ethics 129 (2): 175-203. 2018.
    Many of our most important goals require months or even years of effort to achieve, and some never get achieved at all. As social psychologists have lately emphasized, success in pursuing such goals requires the capacity for perseverance, or "grit." Philosophers have had little to say about grit, however, insofar as it differs from more familiar notions of willpower or continence. This leaves us ill-equipped to assess the social and moral implications of promoting grit. We propose that grit h…Read more
  •  2897
    Embarking on a Crime
    In Enrique Villanueva V. (ed.), Law and the Philosophy of Action, Rodopi. pp. 101-24. 2014.
    When we define something as a crime, we generally thereby criminalize the attempt to commit that crime. However, it is a vexing puzzle to specify what must be the case in order for a criminal attempt to have occurred, given that the results element of the crime fails to come about. I argue that the philosophy of action can assist the criminal law in clarifying what kinds of events are properly categorized as criminal attempts. A natural thought is that this project should take the form of spe…Read more
  •  556
    Doxastic Self-Control
    American Philosophical Quarterly 52 (2): 145-58. 2015.
    This paper discusses the possibility of autonomy in our epistemic lives, and the importance of the concept of the first person in weathering fluctuations in our epistemic perspective over time.
  •  553
    Believing in Others
    Philosophical Topics 46 (1): 75-95. 2018.
    Suppose some person 'A' sets out to accomplish a difficult, long-term goal such as writing a passable Ph.D. thesis. What should you believe about whether A will succeed? The default answer is that you should believe whatever the total accessible evidence concerning A's abilities, circumstances, capacity for self-discipline, and so forth supports. But could it be that what you should believe depends in part on the relationship you have with A? We argue that it does, in the case where A is you…Read more
  •  529
    Intention
    International Encyclopedia of Ethics. 2013.
    A survey of the notion of intention as it relates to debates in the philosophy of action, moral psychology, and ethics.
  •  498
    The courage of conviction
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (5-6): 1-23. 2015.
    Is there a sense in which we exercise direct volitional control over our beliefs? Most agree that there is not, but discussions tend to focus on control in forming a belief. The focus here is on sustaining a belief over time in the face of ‘epistemic temptation’ to abandon it. It is argued that we do have a capacity for ‘doxastic self-control’ over time that is partly volitional in nature, and that its exercise is rationally permissible
  •  396
    Good Intentions and the Road to Hell
    Philosophical Explorations 20 (2): 40-54. 2017.
    G.E.M. Anscombe famously remarked that an adequate philosophy of psychology was needed before we could do ethics.  Fifty years have passed, and we should now ask what significance our best theories of the psychology of agency have for moral philosophy.  My focus is on non-moral conceptions of autonomy and self-governance that emphasize the limits of deliberation -- the way in which one's cares render certain options unthinkable, one's intentions and policies filter out what is inconsistent with …Read more
  •  267
    How We Know What We're Doing
    Philosophers' Imprint 9 1-24. 2009.
    G.E.M. Anscombe famously claimed that acting intentionally entails knowing "without observation" what one is doing. Among those that have taken her claim seriously, an influential response has been to suppose that in order to explain this fact, we should conclude that intentions are a species of belief. This paper argues that there are good reasons to reject this "cognitivist" view of intention in favor of the view that intentions are distinctively practical attitudes that are not beliefs and do…Read more
  •  259
    Deviant Formal Causation
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 5 (3): 1-24. 2011.
    What is the role of practical thought in determining the intentional action that is performed? Donald Davidson’s influential answer to this question is that thought plays an efficient-causal role: intentional actions are those events that have the correct causal pedigree in the agent's beliefs and desires. But the Causal Theory of Action has always been plagued with the problem of “deviant causal chains,” in which the right action is caused by the right mental state but in the wrong way. This pa…Read more
  •  234
    How we know what we intend
    Philosophical Studies 161 (2): 327-346. 2012.
    How do we know what our intentions are? It is argued that work on self-knowledge has tended to neglect the attitude of intention, and that an epistemological account is needed that is attuned to the specific features of that state. Richard Moran’s Authorship view, on which we can acquire self-knowledge by making up our minds, offers a promising insight for such an account: we do not normally discover what we intend through introspection. However, his formulation of the Authorship view, developed…Read more
  •  156
    The transparency of intention
    Philosophical Studies 172 (6): 1529-1548. 2015.
    The attitude of intention is not usually the primary focus in philosophical work on self-knowledge. A recent exception is the so-called “Transparency” theory of self-knowledge, which attempts to explain how we know our own minds by appeal to reflection on non-mental facts. Transparency theories are attractive in light of their relative psychological economy compared to views that must posit a dedicated mechanism of ‘inner sense’. However, it is argued here, focusing on proposals by Richard Moran…Read more
  •  125
    The Transparency of Mind
    Philosophy Compass 9 (5): 295-303. 2014.
    In philosophical inquiry into the mind, the metaphor of ‘transparency’ has been attractive to many who are otherwise in deep disagreement. It has thereby come to have a variety of different and mutually incompatible connotations. The mind is said to be transparent to itself, our perceptual experiences are said to be transparent to the world, and our beliefs are said to be transparent to – a great many different things. The first goal of this essay is to sort out the different uses of the notion …Read more
  •  118
    The conclusion of practical reasoning: the shadow between idea and act
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (3): 287-302. 2013.
    There is a puzzle about how to understand the conclusion of a successful instance of practical reasoning. Do the considerations adduced in reasoning rationalize the particular doing of an action, as Aristotle is sometimes interpreted as claiming? Or does reasoning conclude in the formation of an attitude – an intention, say – that has an action-type as its content? This paper attempts to clarify what is at stake in that debate and defends the latter view against some of its critics
  •  93
    Diachronic Incontinence is a Problem in Moral Philosophy
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (3): 337-355. 2014.
    Is there a rational requirement enjoining continence over time in the intentions one has formed, such that anyone going in for a certain form of agency has standing reason to conform to such a requirement? This paper suggests that there is not. I argue that Michael Bratman’s defense of such a requirement succeeds in showing that many agents have a reason favoring default intention continence much of the time, but does not establish that all planning agents have such a reason in every case of int…Read more
  •  86
  •  83
    This book offers an accessible and inclusive overview of the major debates in the philosophy of action. It covers the distinct approaches taken by Donald Davidson, G.E.M. Anscombe, and numerous others to answering questions like "what are intentional actions?" and "how do reasons explain actions?" Further topics include intention, practical knowledge, weakness and strength of will, self-governance, and collective agency. With introductions, conclusions, and annotated suggested reading lists for …Read more
  •  66
    II—What Should ‘Impostor Syndrome’ Be?
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 93 (1): 227-245. 2019.
    In her thought-provoking symposium contribution, ‘What Is Impostor Syndrome?’, Katherine Hawley fleshes out our everyday understanding of that concept. This response builds on Hawley’s account to ask the ameliorative question of whether the everyday concept best serves the normative goals of promoting social justice and enhancing well-being. I raise some sceptical worries about the usefulness of the notion, in so far as it is centred on doxastic attitudes that include doubt about one’s own talen…Read more
  •  62
    Transparency and Self-Knowledge, by Alex Byrne (review)
    Philosophical Review 129 (3): 480-484. 2020.
    Review of Alex Byrne's book Transparency and Self-Knowledge.
  •  44
    These comments, which take the form of criticism and response, were the basis of a zoom conversation at the Eastern APA, January 2021. Josh is putting them up on philpapers (with permission from all involved) in case they are helpful to people interested in the themes of this book.
  •  27
    Plan B
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    We sometimes strive to achieve difficult goals when our evidence suggests that success is unlikely – not just because it will require strength of will, but because we are targets of prejudice and discrimination or because success will require unusual ability. Optimism about one’s prospects can be useful for persevering in these cases. That said, excessive optimism can be dangerous; when our evidence is unfavourable, we should be at most agnostic about whether we will succeed. This paper explo…Read more
  •  10
    John Doe and Richard Roe
    In Alex Byrne, Gideon Rosen, Elizabeth Harman, Joshua Cohen & Seana Shiffrin (eds.), The Norton Introduction to Philosophy, 2nd Edition. 2018.