•  2
    Monsters Among Us
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 27 167-186. 2001.
    There are monsters that scare children and monsters that scare grownups, and then there are monsters that scare philosophers of mind. This paper is concerned with this third sort of monster, whose primary representative is the zombie—a living being, physically just like a person but lacking consciousness. Though zombies act like normal people and appear to have normal brains, everything is blank inside. Unfortunately, the term ‘zombie’ covers a narrower class of deficits than is convenient, fail…Read more
  •  42
    On Clear and Confused Ideas: An Essay about Substance Concepts (review)
    Dialogue 42 (1): 148-149. 2003.
    Here is an apparently straightforward philosophical story about concepts. In the style of Jerry Fodor, a concept is a mental “word” ; it means what it does because of its causal dependencies, and it contributes this meaning to the meanings of the mental “sentences” it helps to form. The mental word OWL means owls because owls have a special causal relationship to OWLs, and when the mental word OWL is combined with other mental words, such as THERE, IS, AN and NEARBY, the meaning of the resulting…Read more
  •  124
    Alienation and externality
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 29 (3): 371-387. 1999.
    Harry Frankfurt introduces the concept of externality. Externality is supposed to be a fact about the structure of an agent's will. We argue that the pre-theorethical basis of externality has a lot more to do with feelings of alienation than it does with the will. Once we realize that intuitions about externality are guided by intuitions about feelings of alienation surprising conclusions follow regarding the structure of our will.
  •  149
    In Praise of Desire
    Oxford University Press. 2013.
    Joining the debate over the roles of reason and appetite in the moral mind, In Praise of Desire takes the side of appetite. Acting for moral reasons, acting in a praiseworthy manner, and acting out of virtue are simply acting out of intrinsic desires for the right or the good
  •  43
    Replies to Critics
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (2): 509-515. 2014.
  •  22
    Response to Swanton and Badhwar
    Journal of Value Inquiry 50 (2): 445-448. 2016.
  •  39
    A Casual Theory of Acting for Reasons
    American Philosophical Quarterly 52 (2): 103-114. 2015.
    Amanda works in a library, and a patron asks for her help in learning about duty-to- rescue laws in China. She throws herself into the task, spending hours on retrieving documents from governmental and non-governmental sources, getting electronic translations, looking for literature on Scandinavian duty-to-rescue laws that mention Chinese laws for comparison, and so on. Why? She likes to gain this sort of general knowledge of the world; perhaps the reason she works so hard is that she is learnin…Read more
  •  377
    Deliberation and Acting for Reasons
    with N. Arpaly
    Philosophical Review 121 (2): 209-239. 2012.
    Theoretical and practical deliberation are voluntary activities, and like all voluntary activities, they are performed for reasons. To hold that all voluntary activities are performed for reasons in virtue of their relations to past, present, or even merely possible acts of deliberation thus leads to infinite regresses and related problems. As a consequence, there must be processes that are nondeliberative and nonvoluntary but that nonetheless allow us to think and act for reasons, and these pro…Read more
  •  524
    Praise, Blame and the Whole Self
    Philosophical Studies 93 (2): 161-188. 1999.
    What is that makes an act subject to either praise or blame? The question has often been taken to depend entirely on the free will debate for an answer, since it is widely agreed that an agent’s act is subject to praise or blame only if it was freely willed, but moral theory, action theory, and moral psychology are at least equally relevant to it. In the last quarter-century, following the lead of Harry Frankfurt’s (1971) seminal article “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person,” the in…Read more
  •  29
    Book Forum on In Praise of Desire
    Journal of Value Inquiry 50 (2): 425-432. 2016.
  •  127
    Précis of In Praise of Desire
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (2): 490-495. 2014.
  •  37
    The Causal Map and Moral Psychology
    Philosophical Quarterly 67 (267): 347-369. 2017.
    Some philosophers hold that the neuroscience of action is, in practice or in principle, incapable of touching debates in action theory and moral psychology. The role of desires in action, the existence of basic actions, and the like are topics that must be sorted out by philosophers alone: at least at present, and perhaps by the very nature of the questions. This paper examines both philosophical and empirical arguments against the relevance of neuroscience to such questions and argues that neit…Read more
  •  65
    On Romantic Love: Simple Truths about a Complex Emotion
    Philosophical Review Recent Issues 125 (2): 287-289. 2016.
  •  4
    Précis of Three Faces of Desire
    Dialogue 45 (1): 125-130. 2006.
  •  7
    Moral Responsibility and Tourette Syndrome
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (1): 106-123. 2005.
    Philosophers generally assume that individuals with Tourette syndrome are not responsible for their Tourettic tics, and so not blameworthy for any harm their tics might cause. Yet this assumption is based largely on ignorance of the lived experience of Tourette syndrome. Individuals with Tourette syndrome often experience their tics as freely chosen and reason-responsive. Yet it still seems wrong to treat a Tourettic individual’s tic as on a moral par with others’ actions. In this paper, I exami…Read more
  •  5
    On the Content of Experience
    with Ben Caplan
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (3): 590-611. 2007.
    The intentionalist about consciousness holds that the qualitative character of experience, “what it's like,” is determined by the contents of a select group of special intentional states of the subject. Fred Dretske, Mike Thau, Michael Tye and many others have embraced intentionalism, but these philosophers have not generally appreciated that, since we are intimately familiar with the qualitative character of experience, we thereby have special access to the nature of these contents. In this pap…Read more
  •  69
    An Ontology of Ideas
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (4): 757-775. 2015.
    Philosophers often talk about and engage with ideas. Scientists, artists, and historians do, too. But what is an idea? In this paper, we first motivate the desire for an ontology of ideas before discussing what conditions a candidate ontology would have to satisfy to be minimally adequate. We then offer our own account of the ontology of ideas, and consider various strategies for specifying the underlying metaphysics of the account. We conclude with a discussion of potential future work to be do…Read more
  • Foundations of Mental Representation
    Dissertation, Stanford University. 1998.
    There is a familiar if disputed theory of mental representations which holds that to be a mental representation is to be a structure whose states are supposed to stand in correspondence to states of the world . The present work defends this so-called teleosemantic approach to mental representations against Stampian and Fodorian approaches, and develops a novel approach to the normativity underlying mental representation. It is argued that, while appealing to evolutionary functions in attributing…Read more
  •  49
    Functions From Regulation
    The Monist 87 (1): 115-135. 2004.
    Here is a rather mundane set of claims about the stapler on my desk: The function of my stapler is to staple sheets of paper together. If the stapler is loaded with staples, but for some reason will not staple papers, the stapler is malfunctioning. That is, it is not doing what it is supposed to do. It is defective, or misshapen, misaligned or inadequate to its task, or in some other way normatively defective: there is something wrong with it. The reason that my stapler has its function, and is …Read more
  •  37
    Reflection, reason, and free will
    Philosophical Explorations 10 (1). 2007.
    Ju¨rgen Habermas has a familiar style of compatibilism to offer, according to which a person has free will insofar as that person responds appropriately to her reasons. But because of the ways in which Habermas understands reasons and causes, he sees a special objection to his style of compatibilism: it is not clear that our reasons can suitably cause our responses. This objection, however, takes us out of the realm of free will and into the realm of mental causation. In this response to Haberma…Read more
  •  76
  •  63
    Moral responsibility and tourette syndrome
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (1). 2005.
    Philosophers generally assume that individuals with Tourette syndrome are not responsible for their Tourettic tics, and so not blameworthy for any harm their tics might cause. Yet this assumption is based largely on ignorance of the lived experience of Tourette syndrome. Individuals with Tourette syndrome often experience their tics as freely chosen and reason-responsive. Yet it still seems wrong to treat a Tourettic individual’s tic as on a moral par with others’ actions. In this paper, I exami…Read more
  •  69
    Desire and pleasure in John Pollock’s Thinking about Acting (review)
    Philosophical Studies 148 (3). 2010.
    The first third of John Pollock’s Thinking about Acting is on the topics of pleasure, desire, and preference, and these topics are the ones on which this paper focuses. I review Pollock’s position and argue that it has at least one substantial strength (it elegantly demonstrates that desires must be more fundamental than preferences, and embraces this conclusion wholeheartedly) and at least one substantial weakness (it holds to a form of psychological hedonism without convincingly answering the …Read more
  •  105
    A recipe for concept similarity
    Mind and Language 22 (1): 68-91. 2007.
    Sometimes your concept and mine have exactly the same content. When this is so, it is comparatively easy for me to understand what you say when you deploy your concept, for us to disagree, agree, and so on. But what if your concept and mine do not have exactly the same content? This question has occupied a number of philosophers, including Paul Churchland, Jerry Fodor, and Ernie Lepore. This paper develops a novel and rigorous measure of concept similarity, Proportion, such that concepts with di…Read more
  •  63
    Unexpected pleasure
    In Luc Faucher & Christine Tappolet (eds.), The Modularity of Emotions, University of Calgary Press. pp. 255-272. 2008.
    As topics in the philosophy of emotion, pleasure and displeasure get less than their fair share of attention. On the one hand, there is the fact that pleasure and displeasure are given no role at all in many theories of the emotions, and secondary roles in many others.1 On the other, there is the centrality of pleasure and displeasure to being emotional. A woman who tears up because of a blustery wind, while an ill-advised burrito weighs heavily upon her digestive tract, feels an impressive numb…Read more