• Direction of fit and motivational cognitivism
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 1 235-264. 2006.
  •  26
    On self-governance over time
    Tandf: Inquiry 1-12. forthcoming.
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  •  67
    Formalism and constitutivism in Kantian practical philosophy
    Philosophical Explorations 22 (2): 163-176. 2019.
    Constitutivists have tried to answer Enoch’s “schmagency” objection by arguing that Enoch fails to appreciate the inescapability of agency. Although these arguments are effective against some versions of the objection, I argue that they leave constitutivism vulnerable to an important worry; namely, that constitutivism leaves us alienated from the moral norms that it claims we must follow. In the first part of the paper, I try to make this vague concern more precise: in a nutshell, it seems that …Read more
  •  33
    Reasons and Action Explanation
    with Benjamin Wald
    The problem of deviant causation has been a serious obstacle for causal theories of action. We suggest that attending to the problem of deviant causation reveals two related problems for causal theories. First, it threatens the reductive ambitions of causal theories of intentional action. Second, it suggests that such a theory fails to account for how the agent herself is guided by her reasons. Focusing on the second of these, we argue that the problem of guidance turns out to be related to a nu…Read more
  •  289
    It seems to be a humdrum fact of human agency that we act on intentions or decisions that we have made at an earlier time. At breakfast, you look at the Taco Hut menu online and decide that later today you’ll have one of their avocado burritos for lunch. You’re at your desk and you hear the church bells ring the noon hour. You get up, walk to Taco Hut, and order the burrito as planned. As mundane as this sort of scenario might seem to be, philosophers have raised a problem in understanding it. …Read more
  •  44
    The Guise of the Guise of the Bad
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (1): 5-20. 2018.
    It is undeniable that human agents sometimes act badly, and it seems that they sometimes pursue bad things simply because they are bad. This latter phenomenon has often been taken to provide counterexamples to views according to which we always act under the guise of the good. This paper identifies several distinct arguments in favour of the possibility that one can act under the guise of the bad. GG seems to face more serious difficulties when trying to answer three different, but related, argu…Read more
  •  3
    Brute Requirements: Critical Notice (review)
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (1): 153-171. 2007.
  •  620
    Moral Faith and Moral Reason
    In Sophie-Grace Chappell (ed.), Intuition, Theory, Anti-Theory in Ethics, . pp. 76-103. 2015.
    Robert Adams argues that often our moral commitment outstrips what we are epistemically entitled to believe; in these cases, the virtuous agent doxastic states are instances of “moral faith”. I argue against Adams’ views on the need for moral faith; at least in some cases, our moral “intuitions” provide us with certain moral knowledge. The appearance that there can be no certainty here is the result of dubious views about second-order or indirect doubts. Nonetheless, discussing the phenomena …Read more
  •  363
    The judgment of a weak will
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (4): 875-911. 1999.
    In trying to explain the possibility of akrasia , it seems plausible to deny that there is a conceptual connection between motivation and evaluation ; akrasia occurs when the agent is motivated to do something that she does not judge to be good . However, it is hard to see how such accounts could respect our intuition that the akratic agent acts freely, or that there is a difference between akrasia and compulsion. It is also hard to see how such accounts could be extended to the realm of theoret…Read more
  •  550
    Deontological theories face difficulties in accounting for situations involving risk; the most natural ways of extending deontological principles to such situations have unpalatable consequences. In extending ethical principles to decision under risk, theorists often assume the risk must be incorporated into the theory by means of a function from the product of probability assignments to certain values. Deontologists should reject this assumption; essentially different actions are available to t…Read more
  •  55
    Representing collective agency
    Philosophical Studies 172 (12): 3379-3386. 2015.
    This paper examines whether Bratman’s succeeds in provides a reductive account of collective intention
  •  32
    In Defense of “Appearances”
    Dialogue 48 (2): 411. 2009.
    Reply to critics on panel on "Appearances of the Good"
  •  72
    'We desire all and only those things we conceive to be good; we avoid what we conceive to be bad.' This slogan was once the standard view of the relationship between desire or motivation and rational evaluation. Many critics have rejected this scholastic formula as either trivial or wrong. It appears to be trivial if we just define the good as 'what we want', and wrong if we consider apparent conflicts between what we seem to want and what we seem to think is good. In Appearances of the Good, Se…Read more
  •  1688
    Vague Projects and the Puzzle of the Self-Torturer
    with Diana Raffman
    Ethics 123 (1): 86-112. 2012.
    In this paper we advance a new solution to Quinn’s puzzle of the self-torturer. The solution falls directly out of an application of the principle of instrumental reasoning to what we call “vague projects”, i.e., projects whose completion does not occur at any particular or definite point or moment. The resulting treatment of the puzzle extends our understanding of instrumental rationality to projects and ends that cannot be accommodated by orthodox theories of rational choice.
  •  1
    10. Douglas Portmore, Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality Douglas Portmore, Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality (pp. 179-183) (review)
    with Henry S. Richardson, Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek, Peter Singer, Karen Jones, Diana Raffman, Simon Căbulea May, Stephen C. Makin, and Nancy E. Snow
    Ethics 123 (1). 2012.
  •  10
    The Judgment of a Weak Will
    Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 59 (4): 875-911. 1999.
    In trying to explain the possibility of akrasia, it seems plausible to deny that there is a conceptual connection between motivation and evaluation ; akrasia occurs when the agent is motivated to do something that she does not judge to be good. However, it is hard to see how such accounts could respect our intuition that the akratic agent acts freely, or that there is a difference between akrasia and compulsion. It is also hard to see how such accounts could be extended to the realm of theoretic…Read more
  •  99
    Reconsidering Intentions
    Noûs 443-472. 2016.
    This paper argues that the principles of instrumental rationality apply primarily to extended action through time. Most philosophers assume that rational requirements and principles govern in the first instance momentary mental states, as opposed to governing extended intentional actions directly. In the case of instrumental rationality, the relevant mental states or attitudes would typically be preferences, decisions, or intentions. In fact, even those who recognize the extended nature of our a…Read more
  •  70
    Desire, Practical Reason, and the Good (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2010.
    Most philosophers working in moral psychology and practical reason think that either the notion of "good" or the notion of "desire" have central roles to play in our understanding of intentional explanations and practical reasoning. However, philosophers disagree sharply over how we are supposed to understand the notions of "desire" and "good", how these notions relate, and whether both play a significant and independent role in practical reason. In particular, the "Guise of the Good" thesis - …Read more
  •  3
    Belief, Action and Rationality Over Time (edited book)
    with Chrisoula Andreou
    Routledge. 2016.
    Action theorists and formal epistemologists often pursue parallel inquiries regarding rationality, with the former focused on practical rationality, and the latter focused on theoretical rationality. In both fields, there is currently a strong interest in exploring rationality in relation to time. This exploration raises questions about the rationality of certain patterns over time. For example, it raises questions about the rational permissibility of certain patterns of intention; similarly, it…Read more
  •  855
    Knowing the Good and Knowing What One is Doing
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (S1): 91-117. 2009.