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Profile: Toby Handfield (Monash University)
  1. Toby Handfield, Genealogical Explanations of Chance and Morals.
    Objective chance and morality are rarely discussed together. In this paper, I argue that there is a surprising similarity in the epistemic standing of our beliefs about both objective chance and objective morality. The key similarity is that both of these sorts of belief are undermined -- in a limited, but important way -- by plausible genealogical accounts of the concepts that feature in these beliefs. The paper presents a brief account of Richard Joyce's evolutionary hypothesis of the genealogy of (...)
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  2. Patrick Emerton & Toby Handfield (forthcoming). Understanding the Political Defensive Privilege. In Cecile Fabre & Seth Lazar (eds.), The Morality of Defensive War. Oxford University Press.
    Nations are understood to have a right to go to war, not only in defense of individual rights, but in defense of their own political standing in a given territory. This paper argues that the political defensive privilege cannot be satisfactorily explained, either on liberal cosmopolitan grounds or on pluralistic grounds. In particular, it is argued that pluralistic accounts require giving implausibly strong weight to the value of political communities, overwhelming the standing of individuals. Liberal cosmopolitans, it is argued, underestimate (...)
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  3. Adam Bales, Daniel Cohen & Toby Handfield (2014). Decision Theory for Agents with Incomplete Preferences. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (3):453-70.
    (2014). Decision Theory for Agents with Incomplete Preferences. Australasian Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 92, No. 3, pp. 453-470. doi: 10.1080/00048402.2013.843576.
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  4. Toby Handfield & Alastair Wilson (2014). Chance and Context. In Alastair Wilson (ed.), Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford University Press.
    The most familiar philosophical conception of objective chance renders determinism incompatible with non-trivial chances. This conception – associated in particular with the work of David Lewis – is not a good fit with our use of the word ‘chance’ and its cognates in ordinary discourse. In this paper we show how a generalized framework for chance can reconcile determinism with non-trivial chances, and provide for a more charitable interpretation of ordinary chance-talk. According to our proposal, variation in an admissible ‘evidence (...)
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  5. Toby Handfield (2013). Rational Choice and the Transitivity of Betterness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1).
    If A is better than B and B is better than C, then A is better than C, right? Larry Temkin and Stuart Rachels say: No! Betterness is nontransitive, they claim. In this paper, I discuss the central type of argument advanced by Temkin and Rachels for this radical idea, and argue that, given this view very likely has sceptical implications for practical reason, we would do well to identify alternative responses. I propose one such response, which employs the idea (...)
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  6. Toby Handfield (2012). A Philosophical Guide to Chance: Physical Probability. Cambridge University Press.
    Contents: 1. The concept of chance; 2. The classical picture; 3. Ways the world might be; 4. Possibilities of thought; 5. Chance in phase space; 6. Possibilist theories of chance; 7. Actualist theories of chance; 8. Anti-realist theories of chance; 9. Chance in quantum physics; 10. Chance in branching worlds; 11. Time and evidence; 12. Debunking chance.
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  7. Toby Handfield (2012). Toby Handfield Leaves Nothing To Chance. The Philosophers' Magazine 59 (59):125-126.
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  8. Toby Handfield (2011). Absent Desires. Utilitas 23 (04):402-427.
    What difference does it make to matters of value, for a desire satisfactionist, if a given desire is *absent*, rather than *present*? I argue that it is most plausible to hold that the state in which a given desire is satisfied is, other things being equal, incommensurate with the state in which that desire does not exist at all. In addition to illustrating the internal attractions of the view, I demonstrate that this idea has attractive implications for population ethics. Finally, (...)
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  9. Daniel Cohen & Toby Handfield (2010). Rational Capacities, Resolve, and Weakness of Will. Mind 119 (476):907 - 932.
    In this paper we present an account of practical rationality and weakness of will in terms of rational capacities. We show how our account rectifies various shortcomings in Michael Smith's related theory. In particular, our account is capable of accommodating cases of weak-willed behaviour that are not `akratic', or otherwise contrary to the agent's better judgement. Our account differs from Smith's primarily by incorporating resolve: a third rational capacity for resolute maintenance of one's intentions. We discuss further two ways to (...)
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  10. Toby Handfield (2010). Review of A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable, by Anjan Chakravartty. [REVIEW] Mind 118 (472):1118-1121.
  11. Toby Handfield (2010). Dispositions, Manifestations, and Causal Structure. In Anna Marmodoro (ed.), The Metaphysics of Powers: Their Grounding and Their Manifestations. Routledge.
    This paper examines the idea that there might be natural kinds of causal processes, with characteristic diachronic structure, in much the same way that various chemical elements form natural kinds, with characteristic synchronic structure. This claim -- if compatible with empirical science -- has the potential to shed light on a metaphysics of essentially dispositional properties, championed by writers such as Bird and Ellis.
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  12. Toby Handfield, Laws of Nature.
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  13. Sam Butchart, Toby Handfield & Greg Restall (2009). Teaching Philosophy, Logic and Critical Thinking Using Peer Instruction. Teaching Philosophy (1):1-40.
    Peer Instruction (or PI for short) is a simple and effective technique you can use to make lectures more interactive, more engaging, and more effective learning experiences.
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  14. Patrick Emerton & Toby Handfield (2009). Order and Affray: Defensive Privileges in Warfare. Philosophy and Public Affairs 37 (4):382-414.
  15. Toby Handfield (ed.) (2009). Dispositions and Causes. Clarendon Press.
    In recent decades, the analysis of causal relations has become a topic of central importance in analytic philosophy. More recently, dispositional properties have also become objects of intense study. Both of these phenomena appear to be intimately related to counterfactual conditionals and other modal phenomena such as objective chance, but little work has been done to directly relate them. This collection contains ten essays by scholars working in both metaphysics and in philosophy of science, examining the relation between dispositional and (...)
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  16. Toby Handfield (2009). The Metaphysics of Dispositions and Causes. In , Dispositions and Causes. Clarendon Press. 1--30.
    This article gives a general overview of recent metaphysical work on dispositional properties and causal relations. It serves as an introduction to the edited volume, Dispositions and Causes.
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  17. Toby Handfield & Patrick Emerton (2009). Order and Affray: Defensive Privileges in Warfare. Philosophy and Public Affairs 37 (4):382 - 414.
    Just war theory is a difficult, even paradoxical, philosophical topic. It is not just that warfare involves large-scale, organised, deliberate killing, and hence might seem the very paradigm of immorality. The just war tradition sharply divorces the question of whether or not it is permissible to resort to war – the question of jus ad bellum – from the question of how and against whom one may inflict harm once at war – the question of jus in bello. As Michael (...)
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  18. Toby Handfield (2008). Humean Dispositionalism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):113-126.
    Humean metaphysics is characterized by a rejection of necessary connections between distinct existences. Dispositionalists claim that there are basic causal powers. The existence of such properties is widely held to be incompatible with the Humean rejection of necessary connections. In this paper I present a novel theory of causal powers that vindicates the dispositionalist claim that causal powers are basic, without embracing brute necessary connections. The key assumptions of the theory are that there are natural types of causal processes, and (...)
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  19. Toby Handfield (2008). Unfinkable Dispositions. Synthese 160 (2):297 - 308.
    This paper develops two ideas with respect to dispositional properties: (1) Adapting a suggestion of Sungho Choi, it appears the conceptual distinction between dispositional and categorical properties can be drawn in terms of susceptibility to finks and antidotes. Dispositional, but not categorical properties, are not susceptible to intrinsic finks, nor are they remediable by intrinsic antidotes. (2) If correct, this suggests the possibility that some dispositions—those which lack any causal basis—may be insusceptible to any fink or antidote. Since finks and (...)
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  20. Toby Handfield & Alexander Bird (2008). Dispositions, Rules, and Finks. Philosophical Studies 140 (2):285 - 298.
    This paper discusses the prospects of a dispositional solution to the Kripke–Wittgenstein rule-following puzzle. Recent attempts to employ dispositional approaches to this puzzle have appealed to the ideas of finks and antidotes—interfering dispositions and conditions—to explain why the rule-following disposition is not always manifested. We argue that this approach fails: agents cannot be supposed to have straightforward dispositions to follow a rule which are in some fashion masked by other, contrary dispositions of the agent, because in all cases, at least (...)
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  21. Toby Handfield, Charles R. Twardy, Kevin B. Korb & Graham Oppy (2008). The Metaphysics of Causal Models: Where's the Biff? Erkenntnis 68 (2):149-68.
    This paper presents an attempt to integrate theories of causal processes—of the kind developed by Wesley Salmon and Phil Dowe—into a theory of causal models using Bayesian networks. We suggest that arcs in causal models must correspond to possible causal processes. Moreover, we suggest that when processes are rendered physically impossible by what occurs on distinct paths, the original model must be restricted by removing the relevant arc. These two techniques suffice to explain cases of late preëmption and other cases (...)
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  22. Daniel Cohen & Toby Handfield (2007). Finking Frankfurt. Philosophical Studies 135 (3):363--74.
    Michael Smith has resisted Harry Frankfurt's claim that moral responsibility does not require the ability to have done otherwise. He does this by claiming that, in Frankfurt cases, the ability to do otherwise is indeed present, but is a disposition that has been `finked' or masked by other factors. We suggest that, while Smith's account appears to work for some classic Frankfurt cases, it does not work for all. In particular, Smith cannot explain cases, such as the Willing Addict, where (...)
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  23. Toby Handfield (2005). Armstrong and the Modal Inversion of Dispositions. Philosophical Quarterly 55 (220):452–461.
    D. M. Armstrong has objected that the Dispositionalist theory of laws and properties is modally inverted, for it entails that properties are constituted by relations to non-actual possibilia. I contend that, if this objection succeeds against Dispositionalism, then Armstrong's nomic necessitation relation is also modally inverted. This shows that at least one of Armstrong's reasons for preferring a nomic necessitation theory is specious.
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  24. Toby Handfield (2005). Lange on Essentialism, Counterfactuals, and Explanation. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (1):81 – 85.
    Marc Lange objects to scientific essentialists that they can give no better account of the counterfactual invariance of laws than Humeans. While conceding this point succeeds ad hominem against some essentialists, I show that it does not undermine essentialism in general. Moreover, Lange's alternative account of the relation between laws and counterfactuals is - with minor modification - compatible with essentialism.
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  25. Toby Handfield & Trevor Pisciotta (2005). Is the Risk–Liability Theory Compatible with Negligence Law? Legal Theory 11 (4):387-404.
    David McCarthy has recently suggested that our compensation and liability practices may be interpreted as reflecting a fundamental norm to hold people liable for imposing risk of harm on others. Independently, closely related ideas have been criticised by Stephen R. Perry and Arthur Ripstein as incompatible with central features of negligence law. We aim to show that these objections are unsuccessful against McCarthy’s Risk–liability theory, and that such an approach is a promising means both for understanding the moral basis of (...)
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  26. Toby Handfield (2004). Counterlegals and Necessary Laws. Philosophical Quarterly 54 (216):402 - 419.
    Necessitarian accounts of the laws of nature meet an apparent difficulty: for them, counterlegal conditionals, despite appearing to be substantive, seem to come out as vacuous. I argue that the necessitarian may use the presuppositions of counterlegal discourse to explain this. If the typical presupposition that necessitarianism is false is made explicit in counterlegal utterances, we obtain sentences such as 'If it turns out that the laws of nature are contingent, then if the laws had been otherwise, then such and (...)
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  27. Toby Handfield, Active Dispositions.
    No categories
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  28. Toby Handfield (2003). Nozick, Prohibition, and No-Fault Motor Insurance. Journal of Applied Philosophy 20 (2):201–208.
    Is a Nozickian theory of rights compatible with a no-fault motor insurance scheme? I say, Yes. The argument turns on an explication of the basis on which a Nozickian justifies the prohibition of merely risky activities.
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  29. Toby Handfield (2001). Dispositional Essentialism and the Possibility of a Law-Abiding Miracle. Philosophical Quarterly 51 (205):484-494.
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