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David Owens [31]David J. Owens [6]
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Profile: David Owens (University of Reading)
Profile: David Owens (University of Chicago)
  1. David Owens, The Problem with Promising.
    Why have philosophers since Hume regarded promising as problematic? I distinguish two problems raised by Hume. The problem of the bare wrong is the problem of how it can make sense to avoid a wrong when the wrong does not affect any intelligible human interest. The problem of normative power is the problem of how something can be a wrong simply because it has been declared to be a wrong. I argue that the problem of the bare wrong is more (...)
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  2. David Owens, Scepticisms: Descartes and Hume.
    The role of Professor McLaughlin's sceptic is to introduce certain 'sceptical hypotheses', hypotheses which imply the falsity of most of what we believe about the world. Professor McLaughlin asks whether these hypotheses are coherent and thus whether they can tell us anything about what are entitled to believe, or to claim to know. He concludes that, semantic externalism notwithstanding, these hypotheses are both coherent and threatening. I shall not question this conclusion but I do wonder whether the fate of scepticism (...)
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  3. David Owens (2014). Does a Promise Transfer a Right? In George Letsas, Prince Saprai & Gregory Klass (eds.), Philosophical Foundations of Contract Law. Oxford University Press. 78-95.
    A number of authors from Grotius onwards have proposed that a binding promise transfers a right from promisor to promisee. The promisee now has the right, previously possessed by the promisor, to determine whether the promisor performs the act mentioned in their promise. This proposal runs into problems of detail. The chapter first reformulates the theory so as to avoid these problems. It then considers a more fundamental difficulty raised by Hume and argues that the reformulated theory succumbs to Hume’s (...)
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  4. David Owens (2012). Shaping the Normative Landscape. Oup Oxford.
    Shaping the Normative Landscape is an investigation of the value of obligations and of rights, of forgiveness, of consent and refusal, of promise and request. David Owens shows that these are all instruments by which we exercise control over our normative environment.
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  5. David Owens (2012). The Value of Duty. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 86 (1):199-215.
    The obligations we owe to those with whom we share a valuable relationship (like friendship) cannot be reduced to the obligations we owe to others simply as fellow persons (e.g. the duty to reciprocate benefits received). Wallace suggests that this is because such valuable relationships are loving relationships. I instead propose that it is because, unlike general moral obligations, such valuable relationships (and their constitutive obligations) serve our normative interests. Part of what makes friendship good for us is that it (...)
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  6. David Owens (2011). The Possibility of Consent. Ratio 24 (4):402-421.
    Worries about the possibility of consent recall a more familiar problem about promising raised by Hume. To see the parallel here we must distinguish the power of consent from the normative significance of choice. I'll argue that we have normative interests, interests in being able to control the rights and obligations of ourselves and those around us, interests distinct from our interest in controlling the non-normative situation. Choice gets its normative significance from our non-normative control interests. By contrast, the possibility (...)
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  7. David Owens (2009). Freedom and Practical Judgement. In Lucy O'Brien & Matthew Soteriou (eds.), Mental Actions. Oxford University Press.
    Unlike many other animals, human beings enjoy freedom of action. They are capable of acting freely because they have certain psychological capacities which other animals lack. In this paper, I argue that the crucial capacity here is our ability to make practical judgements; to make judgements about what we ought to do. A number of other writers share this view but they treat practical judgement as a form of belief. Since, as I argue, we don't control our beliefs, that undermines (...)
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  8. David Owens (2008). Deliberation and the First Person. In Anthony E. Hatzimoysis (ed.), Self-Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
    Philosophers like Shoemaker and Burge argue that only self-conscious creatures can exercise rational control over their mental lives. In particular they urge that reflective rationality requires possession of the I-concept, the first person concept. These philosophers maintain that rational creatures like ourselves can exercise reflective control over belief as well as action. I agree that we have this sort of control over our actions and that practical freedom presupposes self-consciousness. But I deny that anything like this is true of belief.
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  9. David Owens (2008). Promising Without Intending. Journal of Philosophy 105 (12):737-755.
    It is widely held that one who sincerely promises to do something must at least intend to do that thing: a promise communicates the intention to perform. In this paper, I argue that a promise need only communicate the intention to undertake an obligation to perform. I consider examples of sincere promisors who have no intention of performing. I argue that this fits well with what we want to say about other performatives - giving, commanding etc. Furthermore, it supports a (...)
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  10. David Owens (2008). Rationalism About Obligation. European Journal of Philosophy 16 (3):403-431.
    In our thinking about what to do, we consider reasons which count for or against various courses of action. That having a glass of wine with dinner would be pleasant and make me sociable recommends the wine. That it will disturb my sleep and inhibit this evening’s work counts against it. I determine what I ought to do by weighing these considerations and deciding what would be best all things considered. A practical reason makes sense of a course of action (...)
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  11. David Owens (2007). Disenchantment. In Louise Anthony (ed.), Philosophers Without Gods. Oxford University Press.
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  12. David Owens (2007). Duress, Deception, and the Validity of a Promise. Mind 116 (462):293-315.
    An invalid promise is one whose breach does not wrong the promisee. I describe two different accounts of why duress and deception invalidate promises. According to the fault account duress and deception invalidate a promise just when it was wrong for the promisee to induce the promisor to promise in that way. According to the injury account, duress and deception invalidate a promise just when by inducing the promise in that way the promisee wrongs the promisor. I demonstrate that the (...)
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  13. David Owens (2006). A Simple Theory of Promising. Philosophical Review 115 (1):51-77.
    Why do human beings make and accept promises? What human interest is served by this procedure? Many hold that promising serves what I shall call an information interest, an interest in information about what will happen. And they hold that human beings ought to keep their promises because breaches of promise threaten this interest. On this view human beings take promises seriously because we want correct information about how other human beings are going to act. Some such view is taken (...)
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  14. David Owens (2006). Testimony and Assertion. Philosophical Studies 130 (1):105 - 129.
    Two models of assertion are described and their epistemological implications considered. The assurance model draws a parallel between the ethical norms surrounding promising and the epistemic norms which facilitate the transmission of testimonial knowledge. This model is rejected in favour of the view that assertion transmits knowledge by expressing belief. I go on to compare the epistemology of testimony with the epistemology of memory.
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  15. David Owens (2005). Review: The Right and the Reasonable. [REVIEW] Mind 114 (454):371 - 389.
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  16. David Owens (2005). The Right and the Reasonable. [REVIEW] Mind 114 (454):371-389.
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  17. David Owens (2004). Williamson on Scepticism and Rationality. Philosophical Books 45 (4):306-312.
    We are often in no position to know whether p is true but, it is widely held, where we do know that p, we are always in a position to know that we know that p: knowledge is luminous. In Chapter 4 of Knowledge and Its Limits Williamson argues that knowledge is not luminous and with this conclusion in hand he hopes to see off the sceptic, amongst other things.
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  18. David Owens (2003). Intellectual Trust In Ones Self And Others. Mind 112 (447):536-539.
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  19. David Owens (2003). Review: Intellectual Trust in One's Self and Others. [REVIEW] Mind 112 (447):536-539.
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  20. David J. Owens (2003). Does Belief Have an Aim? Philosophical Studies 115 (3):283-305.
    The hypothesis that belief aims at the truth has been used to explain three features of belief: (1) the fact that correct beliefs are true beliefs, (2) the fact that rational beliefs are supported by the evidence and (3) the fact that we cannot form beliefs.
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  21. David J. Owens (2003). Externalis, Davidson, and Knowledge of Comparative Content. In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press.
  22. David J. Owens (2003). Knowing Your Own Mind. Dialogue 42 (4):791-798.
    What is it to “know your own mind”? In ordinary English, this phrase connotes clear headed decisiveness and a firm resolve but in the language of contemporary philosophy, the indecisive and the susceptible can know their own minds just as well as anybody else. In the philosopher’s usage, “knowing your own mind” is just a matter of being able to produce a knowledgeable description of your mental state, whether it be a state of indecision, susceptibility or even confusion. What exercises (...)
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  23. David Owens (2002). Epistemic Akrasia. The Monist 85 (3):381-397.
    One way of discerning what sort of control we have over our mental lives is to look at cases where that control is not exercised. This is one reason why philosophers have taken an interest in the phenomenon of akrasia, in an agent's ability to do, freely and deliberately, something that they judge they ought not to do. Akrasia constitutes a failure of control but not an absence of control. The akratic agent is not a compulsive; an akratic agent has (...)
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  24. Nathan Salmon, Andrew Melnyk, Trenton Merricks, John Stuart Mill, Matt Millen, Ruth G. Millikan, Piet Mondrian, Isaac Newton, David Owens & David Papineau (2002). Ramsey 311,314 Rembrandt 388 Rosenberg, Alexander Xxi Ross, WD. 274. In Jaegwon Kim (ed.), Supervenience. Ashgate. 397.
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  25. David Owens (2000). Reason Without Freedom: The Problem of Epistemic Normativity. Routledge.
    We call beliefs reasonable or unreasonable, justified or unjustified. What does this imply about belief? Does this imply that we are responsible for our beliefs and that we should be blamed for our unreasonable convictions? Or does it imply that we are in control of our beliefs and that what we believe is up to us? Reason Without Freedom argues that the major problems of epistemology have their roots in concerns about our control over and responsibility for belief. Owens focuses (...)
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  26. David Owens (2000). Self-Knowledge, Externalism and Scepticism, II. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 74 (1):119–142.
    [Brian P. McLaughlin] In recent years, some philosophers have claimed that we can know a priori that certain external world skeptical hypotheses are false on the basis of a priori knowledge that we are in certain kinds of mental states, and a priori knowledge that those mental states are individuated by contingent environmental factors. Appealing to a distinction between weak and strong a priority, I argue that weakly a priori arguments of this sort would beg the question of whether the (...)
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  27. David J. Owens & Brian P. McLaughlin (2000). Self-Knowledge, Externalism and Scepticism: II--David Owens, Scepticisms: Descartes and Hume. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 74 (74):119-142.
    [FIRST PARAGRAPHS]The role of Professor McLaughlin's sceptic is to introduce certain 'sceptical hypotheses', hypotheses which imply the falsity of most of what we believe about the world. Professor McLaughlin asks whether these hypotheses are coherent and thus whether they can tell us anything about what are entitled to believe, or to claim to know. He concludes that, semantic externalism notwithstanding, these hypotheses are both coherent and threatening. I shall not question this conclusion but I do wonder whether the fate of (...)
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  28. David J. Owens (1999). The Authority of Memory. European Journal of Philosophy 7 (3):312-29.
    [FIRST PARAGRAPHS] Nothing is more common than for us to continue to believe without rehearsing the reasons which led us to believe in the first place. It is hard to see how it could be otherwise. Were we obliged constantly to re-trace our cognitive steps, to reassure ourselves that we are entitled to our convictions, how could we ever move forward? We have probably forgotten why we adopted many of our current beliefs and even if we could dredge the evidence (...)
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  29. David J. Owens (1996). A Lockean Theory of Memory Experience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (2):319-32.
    The paper aims to provide an account of the phenomenological differences between perception, recognition and recall. In the first section, recall is distinguished from non-experiential forms of memory. In the second section, it is argued that we can't distinguish perceptual experience from the experience of recall by means of perception's present tense content because it is possible to perceive as well as to recall the past. The Lockean theory of recall as a revival of previous perceptual experience is then introduced, (...)
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  30. David Owens (1995). Understanding Names. In Petr Kotatko & John Biro (eds.), Frege: Sense and Reference One Hundred Years Later. Kluwer. 141--149.
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  31. David Owens (1992). Causes and Coincidences. Cambridge University Press.
    In an important departure from current theories of causation, David Owens proposes that coincidences have no causes, and that a cause is something that ensures that its effects are no coincidence. He elucidates the idea of a coincidence as an event that can be divided into constituent events, the nomological antecedents of which are independent of each other. He also suggests that causal facts can be analyzed in terms of non-causal facts, including relations of necessity. Thus, causation is defined in (...)
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  32. David Owens (1990). Critical Notice. Mind 99 (393):113 - 122.
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  33. David Owens (1989). Representation and Reality. Mind and Language 4 (3):246-249.
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  34. David Owens (1989). Disjunctive Laws? Analysis 49 (4):197 - 202.
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  35. David Owens (1989). Levels of Explanation. Mind 98 (389):59-79.
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  36. David Owens (1988). Should Blackmail Be Banned? Philosophy 63 (246):501 - 514.
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