Now showing 1 - 10 of 21
  • Publication
    Being subject to the rule to do what the rules tell you to do
    (Routledge, 2010-04)
    One way to start thinking about agency is to try to distinguish the special way that reasons are involved in action from the way that reasons are involved in inanimate nature. Consider the following pair of explanations: Explanation A. The reason the soufflé collapsed is that the oven door was opened at the wrong time. Explanation B. The reason John collapsed onto the sofa was that he was exhausted after a hard day at work.
  • Publication
    Ryle's conceptions of emotional behaviour
    (Palgrave macMillan, 2015-01)
    I will proceed by describing the significance of Ryle’s distinction between dispositions and occurrences and then by explaining his account of how emotions fit into this distinction. I will try to show how unsatisfactory this account is and defend briefly the alternative view that agitated emotions are motives for emotionally expressive behaviour.
  • Publication
    Can There be Virtue in Violence?
    (Cairn, 2013-10)
    Fighting is a norm-governed practice within which fighting back can be justified in certain circumstances. This is a possible non-instrumental justification of violence, but only if one is justified in engaging in the practice of fighting in the first place. The disposition to engage in fights in the right circumstances – for example when this is the only way to protect your status as a person to be reckoned with – can be justified as an aspect of Aristotelian virtue.
  • Publication
    The right structure for a causal theory of action
    (Peter Lang, 2002)
    In this paper, I argue that the way to understand causal notions is in terms of how something is caused rather than by what. To characterize how something is caused is to describe the way it is caused and this is to describe it as belonging to a certain process.
  • Publication
    Adopting Roles: Generosity and Presumptuousness
    (Cambridge University Press, 2015-10)
    An understanding of generosity must be central to an understanding of our moral nature, yet there is no good philosophical account of generosity. This is exemplified in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, where interesting accounts of liberality (using your wealth well) and magnificence (spending large amounts of money well) are provided in Book IV, but none of generosity. Hutcheson and Hume were interested in benevolence, but benevolence is not the same thing as generosity either. For Hume, benevolence is ‘desire of the happiness of the person belov’d, and an aversion to his misery.’ (Treatise, So, acting benevolently, for Hume, is acting from this sentiment for the sake of someone else’s wellbeing. Picking up litter that somebody else has dropped is not benevolent on this account, but I think it may count as generous behaviour. And conversely, I will argue later that benevolent actions that are presumptuous and intrusive are not generous.
  • Publication
    What are you causing in acting?
    (MIT Press, 2010-08)
    My target for attack in this paper is the fairly widespread view in the philosophy of action that what an agent is doing in acting in a certain kind of way is causing an event of some corresponding type. On this view agency is characterized by the agent’s causing of events. To pick one of many manifestations of this view here are Maria Alvarez and John Hyman.We can describe an agent as something or someone that makes things happen. And we can add that to make something happen is to cause an event of some kind. (Alvarez & Hyman, 1998, p. 221)
  • Publication
    Critical notice : Decontaminating our view of the mind
    (Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2003)
    I suppose that most people think their minds are inside their heads, and not spread around in the environment outside. Now that we are not able to make sense of the old Cartesian doctrine that minds exist in some non-material realm this looks like the only option; our minds are lodged in our brains. Perhaps we have learnt enough from Gilbert Ryle’s (1949) attack on the very meaningfulness of this way of talking about minds that we might modify our way of putting this. What we would say instead is that facts about the mental depend on facts about the brain. To put it more technically, the mental supervenes on the neurophysiological. This means roughly that if any of the facts about your mind were different then some neurophysiological fact about your brain would have to be different too; facts about the mind do not float free from facts about the brain.
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  • Publication
    Acting against your better judgement
    (Springer, 2020-09-29) ;
    I defend a Davidsonian approach to weakness of will against some recent arguments by John McDowell, and adapt the approach to meet other objections. Instead of treating one’s better judgement as a conditional judgement about what is desirable to do given available reasons, it is proposed to treat it as an unconditional judgement about what is desirable to do from a rational perspective that one takes to be the right perspective to have. This makes sense of Aristotle’s claim that desire is for the good or the apparent good: judgements of desirability generally concern the apparent good, whereas judgements of desirability from rational perspectives that are judged to be the ones to have are judgements of the actual good. Weakness of will occurs when one’s actual rational perspective is not the one that one takes to be the one to have - i.e. when one’s judgement of the apparent good does not coincide with one’s judgement of the actual good. One makes two judgements – one from an adopted perspective that one judges to be the one to have and one from one’s actual perspective.
  • Publication
    Twentieth Century Moral Philosophy
    (Routledge, 2008-03)
    Despite being somewhat long in the tooth at the time, Aristotle, Hume and Kant were still dominating twentieth century moral philosophy. Much of the progress made in that century came from a detailed working through of each of their approaches by the expanding and increasingly professionalized corps of academic philosophers. And this progress can be measured not just by the quality and sophistication of moral philosophy at the end of that century, but also by the narrowing of some of the gaps between Aristotelian, Humean and Kantian philosophers.