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Profile: Joshua Shepherd (Oxford University)
  1. Randolph Clarke, Joshua Shepherd, John Stigall, Robyn Repko Waller & Chris Zarpentine (forthcoming). Causation, Norms, and Omissions: A Study of Causal Judgments. Philosophical Psychology:1-15.
    Many philosophical theories of causation are egalitarian, rejecting a distinction between causes and mere causal conditions. We sought to determine the extent to which people's causal judgments discriminate, selecting as causes counternormal events—those that violate norms of some kind—while rejecting non-violators. We found significant selectivity of this sort. Moreover, priming that encouraged more egalitarian judgments had little effect on subjects. We also found that omissions are as likely as actions to be judged as causes, and that counternormative selectivity appears to (...)
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  2. Joshua Shepherd (forthcoming). Conscious Action/Zombie Action. Noûs.
    I argue that the neural realizers of experiences of trying (that is, experiences of directing effort towards the satisfaction of an intention) are not distinct from the neural realizers of actual trying (that is, actual effort directed towards the satisfaction of an intention). I then ask how experiences of trying might relate to the perceptual experiences one has while acting. First, I assess recent zombie action arguments regarding conscious visual experience, and I argue that contrary to what some have claimed, (...)
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  3. Joshua Shepherd (forthcoming). Conscious Control Over Action. Mind and Language.
    The extensive involvement of nonconscious processes in human behaviour has led some to suggest that consciousness is much less important for the control of action than we might think. In this paper I push against this trend, developing an understanding of conscious control that is sensitive to our best models of overt (that is, bodily) action control. Further, I assess the cogency of various zombie challenges – challenges that seek to demote the importance of conscious control for human agency. I (...)
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  4. Joshua Shepherd (forthcoming). Consciousness, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility: Taking the Folk Seriously. Philosophical Psychology:1-18.
    In this paper I offer evidence that folk views of free will and moral responsibility accord a central place to consciousness. In sections 2 and 3 I contrast action production via conscious states and processes with action in concordance with an agent’s long-standing and endorsed motivations, values, and character traits. Results indicate that conscious action production is considered much more important for free will than is concordance with motivations, values, and character traits. In section 4 I contrast the absence or (...)
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  5. Joshua Shepherd (forthcoming). Scientific Challenges to Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Philosophy Compass.
    Here I review work from three lines of research in cognitive science often taken to threaten free will and moral responsibility. This work concerns conscious deciding, the experience of acting, and the role of largely unnoticed situational influences on behavior. Whether this work in fact threatens free will and moral responsibility depends on how we ought to interpret it, and depends as well on the nature of free and responsible behavior. I discuss different ways this work has been interpreted, and (...)
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  6. Joshua Shepherd & Michael Bishop (forthcoming). The Case for Naturalized Epistemology. In Stefan Tolksdorf & Dirk Koppleberg (eds.), Erkenntnistheorie: Wie und Wozu? Mentis Publishers.
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  7. Joshua Shepherd & James Justus (forthcoming). X-Phi and Carnapian Explication. Erkenntnis:1-22.
    The rise of experimental philosophy (x-phi) has placed metaphilosophical questions, particularly those concerning concepts, at the center of philosophical attention. X-phi offers empirically rigorous methods for identifying conceptual content, but what exactly it contributes towards evaluating conceptual content remains unclear. We show how x-phi complements Rudolf Carnap’s underappreciated methodology for concept determination, explication. This clarifies and extends x-phi’s positive philosophical import, and also exhibits explication’s broad appeal. But there is a potential problem: Carnap’s account of explication was limited to empirical (...)
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  8. Joshua Shepherd (2014). Causalism and Intentional Omission. American Philosophical Quarterly 51:15-26.
    It is natural to think that at root, agents are beings that act. Agents do more than this, however – agents omit to act. Sometimes agents do so intentionally. How should we understand intentional omission? Recent accounts of intentional omission have given causation a central theoretical role. The move is well-motivated. If some form of causalism about intentional omission can successfully exploit similarities between action and omission, it might inherit the broad support causalism about intentional action enjoys. In this paper (...)
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  9. Joshua Shepherd (2014). Deciding as Intentional Action: Control Over Decisions. Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-17.
    Common-sense folk psychology and mainstream philosophy of action agree about decisions: these are under an agent's direct control, and are thus intentional actions for which agents can be held responsible. I begin this paper by presenting a problem for this view. In short, since the content of the motivational attitudes that drive deliberation and decision remains open-ended until the moment of decision, it is unclear how agents can be thought to exercise control over what they decide at the moment of (...)
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  10. Joshua Shepherd (2014). Minimizing Harm Via Psychological Intervention: Response to Glannon. Journal of Medical Ethics 40:662-663.
    In a recent discussion, Walter Glannon discusses a number of ways we might try to minimize harm to patients who experience intraoperative awareness. In this response I direct attention to a possibility that deserves further attention. It might be that a kind of psychological intervention – namely, informing patients of the possibility of intraoperative awareness and of what to expect in such a case – would constitute a unique way to respect patient autonomy, as well as minimize the harm that (...)
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  11. Joshua Shepherd (2014). The Contours of Control. Philosophical Studies 170 (3):395-411.
    Necessarily, if S lacks the ability to exercise (some degree of) control, S is not an agent. If S is not an agent, S cannot act intentionally, responsibly, or rationally, nor can S possess or exercise free will. In spite of the obvious importance of control, however, no general account of control exists. In this paper I reflect on the nature of control itself. I develop accounts of control’s exercise and control’s possession that illuminate what it is for degrees of (...)
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  12. Alfred Mele & Joshua Shepherd (2013). Situationism and Agency. Journal of Practical Ethics 1 (1):62-83.
    Research in psychology indicates that situations powerfully impact human behavior. Often, it seems, features of situations drive our behavior even when we remain unaware of these features or their influence. One response to this research is pessimism about human agency: human agents have little conscious control over their own behavior, and little insight into why they do what they do. In this paper we review classic and more recent studies indicating “the power of the situation,” and argue for a more (...)
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  13. Joshua Shepherd, Intentional Control And Consciousness.
    The power to exercise control is a crucial feature of agency. Necessarily, if S cannot exercise some degree of control over anything - any state of affairs, event, process, object, or whatever - S is not an agent. If S is not an agent, S cannot act intentionally, responsibly, or rationally, nor can S possess or exercise free will. In my dissertation I reflect on the nature of control, and on the roles consciousness plays in its exercise. I first consider (...)
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  14. Joshua Shepherd (2013). The Apparent Illusion of Conscious Deciding. Philosophical Explorations 16 (1):18 - 30.
    Recent work in cognitive science suggests that conscious thought plays a much less central role in the production of human behavior than most think. Partially on the basis of this work, Peter Carruthers has advanced the claim that humans never consciously decide to act. This claim is of independent interest for action theory, and its potential truth poses a problem for theories of free will and autonomy, which often take our capacity to consciously decide to be of central importance. In (...)
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  15. Joshua Shepherd (2013). Why Block Can't Stand the HOT. Journal of Consciousness Studies 20 (3-4):183-195.
    Ned Block has recently pressed a new criticism of the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness. HOT proponents have responded in turn. The exchange affords a chance to find some clarity concerning the essential commitments of HOT, as well as a chance to find clarity on the issues that divide Block and HOT proponents. In this paper I discuss the recent exchange, and I draw some lessons. First, I side with HOT proponents in arguing that new criticism presents no new (...)
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  16. Joshua Shepherd (2012). Action, Attitude, and the Knobe Effect: Another Asymmetry. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (2):171-185.
    A majority of people regard the harmful side-effects of an agent’s behavior as much more intentional than an agent’s helpful side-effects. In this paper, I present evidence for a related asymmetry. When a side-effect action is an instance of harming , folk ascriptions are significantly impacted by the relative badness of either an agent’s main goal or her side-effect action, but not her attitude. Yet when a side-effect action is an instance of helping , folk ascriptions are sensitive to an (...)
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  17. Joshua Shepherd (2012). Action, Mindreading and Embodied Social Cognition. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (4):507-518.
    One of the central insights of the embodied cognition (EC) movement is that cognition is closely tied to action. In this paper, I formulate an EC-inspired hypothesis concerning social cognition. In this domain, most think that our capacity to understand and interact with one another is best explained by appeal to some form of mindreading. I argue that prominent accounts of mindreading likely contain a significant lacuna. Evidence indicates that what I call an agent’s actional processes and states—her goals, needs, (...)
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  18. Joshua Shepherd (2012). Free Will and Consciousness: Experimental Studies. Consciousness and Cognition 21 (2):915-927.
    What are the folk-conceptual connections between free will and consciousness? In this paper I present results which indicate that consciousness plays central roles in folk conceptions of free will. When conscious states cause behavior, people tend to judge that the agent acted freely. And when unconscious states cause behavior, people tend to judge that the agent did not act freely. Further, these studies contribute to recent experimental work on folk philosophical affiliation, which analyzes folk responses to determine whether folk views (...)
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