• Direction of fit and motivational cognitivism
    In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics: Volume 1, Clarendon Press. 2006.
  •  36
    Although Kant is clearly committed to some version of the Guise of the Good thesis, he only explicitly endorses a very weak version of it; namely, that under the direction of reason, we only p...
  •  12
    Rational Powers in Action presents a conception of instrumental rationality as governing actions that are extended in time with indeterminate ends. Tenenbaum argues that previous philosophical theories in this area, in focusing on momentary snapshots of the mind of idealized agents, miss central aspects of human rationality.
  • Direction of fit and motivational cognitivism
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 1 235-264. 2006.
  •  36
    On self-governance over time
    Tandf: Inquiry 1-12. forthcoming.
  •  88
    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
  •  42
    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
  •  436
    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
  •  61
    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
  •  4
    Brute Requirements: Critical Notice (review)
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (1): 153-171. 2007.
  •  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.
  •  13
    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
  •  113
    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
  •  83
    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
  •  1018
    Knowing the Good and Knowing What One is Doing
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (S1): 91-117. 2009.
  •  41
    Accidie, Evaluation, and Motivatlon
    In Christine Tappolet & Sarah Stroud (eds.), Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality, Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 147. 2003.
    Accidie, depression, and dejection seem to be psychological phenomena that are best characterized as cases in which an agent has no motivation to pursue what he or she judges to be good or valuable. The phenomena thus seem to present a challenge to any view that draws a close connection between motivation and evaluation. ‘Accidie, Evaluation, and Motivation’ aims to show that the phenomena are actually best explained by a theory that postulates a conceptual connection between motivation and eval…Read more
  • Subjectivism is the mainstream view of practical reason. According to subjectivism, what has value for an agent must ultimately be grounded in what the agent actually desires. Subjectivism is motivated by a conservative view of the scope and extent of practical reason. Against this view, my dissertation argues that any coherent conception of an end must endow practical reason with a scope that goes beyond anything that subjectivism could accommodate. ;Subjectivism correctly grasps that nothing c…Read more
  •  663
    The Idea of Freedom and Moral Cognition in Groundwork III
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3): 555-589. 2012.
    Kant’s views on the relation between freedom and moral law seem to undergo a major, unannounced shift. In the third section of the Groundwork, Kant seems to be using the fact that we must act under the idea of freedom as a foundation for the moral law. However, in the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant claims that our awareness of our freedom depends on our awareness of the moral law. I argue that the apparent conflict between the two texts depends on a reading of the opening paragraphs of Grou…Read more
  •  53
    Review of J. David Velleman, Self to Self: Selected Essays (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (8). 2007.
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    Direction of Fit and Motivational Cognitivism
    In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Oxford University Press. pp. 235-64. 2006.
    The idea of direction of fit has been found appealing by many philosophers. Anscombe’s famous examples have persuaded many of us that there must be some deep difference between belief and desire that is captured by the metaphor of direction of fit. Most of the aim of the paper is to try to get clear on which intuitions Anscombe’s example taps into. My view is that there is more than one intuition in play here, and I will try to show that various distinctions and points are confused in the litera…Read more