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  1. Habitually Breaking Habits.Joshua A. Bergamin - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.
    In this paper, I explore the question of agency in spontaneous action via a phenomenology of musical improvisation, drawing on fieldwork conducted with large con- temporary improvising ensembles. I argue that musical improvisation is a form of ‘participatory sense-making’ in which musical decisions unfold via a feedback pro- cess with the evolving musical situation itself. I describe how musicians’ technical expertise is developed alongside a responsive expertise, and how these capacities complicate the sense in which habitual action can be viewed (...)
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  2. God, Über-God, and Unter-God.Noah Gordon - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-16.
    I examine two related arguments for the claim that if God is omnipotent, God cannot lack abilities such as the ability to do evil or to act irrationally. Both arguments concern the idea that omnipotence is inconsistent with being dominated with respect to abilities. I raise new issues in the formulation of such dominance principles about ability, and attempt to solve them. I also discuss and reject existing objections to these arguments. I conclude that these arguments are promising but not (...)
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  3. Epistemic Cans.Tim Kearl & Christopher Willard-Kyle - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    We argue that S is in a position to know that p iff S can know that p. Thus, what makes position-to-know-ascriptions true is just a special case of what makes ability-ascriptions true: compossibility. The novelty of our compossibility theory of epistemic modality lies in its subsuming epistemic modality under agentive modality, the modality characterizing what agents can do.
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  4. Options and Agency. [REVIEW]Sophie Kikkert & Barbara Vetter - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
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  5. Failure and Success in Agency.David Heering - 2024 - Philosophical Quarterly 74 (2):590-613.
    Agency often consists in performing actions and engaging in activities that are successful. We pour glasses, catch objects, carry things, recite poems, and play instruments. It has therefore seemed tempting in recent philosophical thinking to conceptualise the relationship between our agentive abilities and our successes as follows: (Success) S is exercising their ability to ϕ only if S successfully ϕ-s. This paper argues that (Success) is false based on the observation that agency also often consists in making mistakes. We bungle (...)
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  6. Agentive Modals and Agentive Modality: A Cautionary Tale.Timothy Kearl & Robert H. Wallace - 2024 - American Philosophical Quarterly 61 (2):139–155.
    In this paper, we consider recent attempts to metaphysically explain agentive modality in terms of conditionals. We suggest that the best recent accounts face counterexamples, and more worryingly, they take some agentive modality for granted. In particular, the ability to perform basic actions features as a primitive in these theories. While it is perfectly acceptable for a semantics of agentive modal claims to take some modality for granted in getting the extension of action claims correct, a metaphysical explanation of agentive (...)
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  7. Unavoidable actions.Justin A. Capes - 2023 - Philosophical Explorations 27 (1):57-73.
    ABSTRACT It’s often assumed, especially in discussions of free will and moral responsibility, that unavoidable actions are possible. In recent years, however, several philosophers have questioned that assumption. Their views are considered here, and the possibility of unavoidable actions is defended and then applied to issues in action theory and in the literature on moral responsibility.
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  8. I didn't think of that.Randolph Clarke - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):45-57.
    Consider cases in which an agent simply doesn.t think to do a certain thing, or doesn't think of a crucial consideration favoring doing a certain thing, or intends to do a certain thing but forgets to do it. In such a case, is the agent able to do the thing that she fails to do? Assume that commonly we all‐in can do things that we do not do. Here I argue that, given this assumption, in the cases under consideration, too, (...)
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  9. Theism and Secular Modality.Noah Gordon - 2023 - Dissertation, University of Southern California
    I examine issues in the philosophy of religion at the intersection of what possibilities there are and what a God, as classically conceived in the theistic philosophical tradition, would be able to do. The discussion is centered around arguing for an incompatibility between theism and two principles about possibility and ability, and exploring what theists should say about these incompatibilities. -/- I argue that theism entails that certain kinds and amounts of evil are impossible. This puts theism in conflict with (...)
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  10. La máquina de hacer pan: un análisis del conocimiento tácito involucrado en el ejercicio de habilidades prácticas y el comportamiento de artefactos.Sofia Mondaca - 2023 - Griot 23 (3):235-251.
    A finales de la década de los ‘80, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. largó a la venta la primera máquina panificadora de uso doméstico. Su lanzamiento gozó de tal éxito, que sociólogos del conocimiento se abocaron a analizar el conocimiento involucrado en su diseño y producción. Para ello, Takeuchi y Nonaka (1995) analizaron detalladamente la noción de conocimiento tácito (POLANYI, 1966/2009). Defendieron que los ingenieros y desarrolladores lograron explicitar y traducir el conocimiento tácito presente en el ejercicio habilidoso del maestro (...)
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  11. An Agency-Based Epistemology of Modality.Barbara Vetter - 2023 - In Duško Prelević & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Epistemology of Modality and Philosophical Methodology. New York, NY: Routledge.
    My aim in this paper is to sketch, with a broad brush and in bare outlines, an approach to modal epistemology that is characterized by three distinctive features. First, the approach is agency-based: it locates the roots of our modal thought and knowledge in our experience of our own agency. Second, the approach is ambitious in that it takes the experience of certain modal properties in agency to be the sole distinctive feature of specifically modal thought and knowledge; everything that (...)
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  12. Extending knowledge-how.Gloria Andrada - 2022 - Philosophical Explorations 1 (Online first):1-17.
    This paper examines what it takes for a state of knowledge-how to be extended (i.e. partly constituted by entities external to the organism) within an anti-intellectualist approach to knowledge- how. I begin by examining an account of extended knowledge- how developed by Carter, J. Adam, and Boleslaw Czarnecki. 2016 [“Extended Knowledge-How.” Erkenntnis 81 (2): 259–273], and argue that it fails to properly distinguish between cognitive outsourcing and extended knowing-how. I then introduce a solution to this problem which rests on the (...)
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  13. Options and Agency.Maier John - 2022 - Palgrave Macmillan.
    This book develops an original theory of agentive modality: the kind of modality that is distinctive to agents. The central thesis is that the idea of an option should be taken as primitive, and that other agentive notions - such as ability, skill, and free will - should be understood in terms of options. -/- The main contributions of this book are twofold. First, it resolves many of the outstanding questions in the metaphysics and semantics of agentive modality. In doing (...)
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  14. Why Frankfurtian all-in can’ts are irrelevant to free will.Geert Keil - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65.
    This paper argues that Frankfurt-style counterexamples (FSCs) do not compromise the agent’s ability to decide otherwise. In his attack on the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, Frankfurt relied on what Austin called the ‘all-in’ sense of ‘can’, and misconstrued the agent’s inability to do otherwise as an all-in can’t. Like the new dispositionalists, I maintain that the agent’s relevant abilities are ‘masked’ rather than lost in Frankfurt cases. The argument from masked abilities, however, is not confined to a compatibilist construal of (...)
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  15. Ability’s Two Dimensions of Robustness.Sophie Kikkert - 2022 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 122 (3):348-357.
    The actions of able agents are often reliably successful. I argue that their success may be modally robust along two dimensions. The first dimension helps distinguish the exercise of abilities, which requires local control, from lucky success. The second concerns the global availability of acts: agents with the ability to φ can φ across a variety of circumstances. I introduce a framework that captures the two dimensions and their interaction, and show how it bears on a disagreement about the modal (...)
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  16. How (not) to think about the sense of ‘able’ relevant to free will.Simon Kittle - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (10):1289-1307.
    This essay is an investigation into the sense of ‘able’ relevant to free will, where free will is understood as requiring the ability to do otherwise. I argue that van Inwagen's recent functional specification of the relevant sense of ‘able’ is flawed, and that explicating the powers involved in free will shall likely require paying detailed attention to the semantics and pragmatics of ‘can’ and ‘able’. Further, I argue that van Inwagen's promise-level ability requirement on free will is too strong. (...)
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  17. On General and Non‐General Abilities.Simon Kittle - 2022 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 104 (1):124-144.
    I distinguish two ways an ability might be general: (i) an ability might be general in that its possession doesn't entail the possession of an opportunity; (ii) an ability might be general in virtue of pertaining to a wide range of circumstances. I argue that these two types of generality – I refer to them with the terms ‘general’ and ‘generic’, respectively – produce two orthogonal distinctions among abilities. I show that the two types of generality are sometimes run together (...)
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  18. 50 Years of responsibility without alternative possibilities: guest editors’ introduction.Jaster Romy & Keil Geert - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (9):1143-1148.
    2019 marked the 50th anniversary of Harry Frankfurt’s seminal paper ‘Moral responsibility without alternate possibilities’. The paper set an avalanche of research on the role of alternative possibilities for freedom and responsibility in motion which has not abated to this day. A good 50 years later, the debate over Frankfurt’s central argument and its implications is still very much alive. [...].
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  19. Möglichkeit ohne mögliche Welten.Barbara Vetter - 2022 - Philosophisches Jahrbuch 129 (1):115-137.
  20. The Poss-Ability Principle, G-cases, and Fitch Propositions.Noah Gordon - 2021 - Logos and Episteme 12 (1):117-125.
    There is a very plausible principle linking abilities and possibilities: If S is able to Φ, then it is metaphysically possible that S Φ’s. Jack Spencer recently proposed a class of counterexamples to this principle involving the ability to know certain propositions. I renew an argument against these counterexamples based on the unknowability of Fitch propositions. In doing so, I provide a new argument for the unknowability of Fitch propositions and show that Spencer’s counterexamples are in tension with a principle (...)
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  21. Können nichtmenschliche Tiere handeln?Geert Keil - 2021 - In Roland Kipke, Nele Röttger, Johanna Wagner & Almut Kristine von Wedelstaedt (eds.), ZusammenDenken. Festschrift für Ralf Stoecker. Springer VS. pp. 159-177.
    Ralf Stoecker hat argumentiert, dass allein Menschen im strengen Sinne handeln könnten, weil sie allein fähig seien, etwas aus Gründen zu tun und über diese Gründe Rechenschaft abzulegen. In einem weniger strengen Sinn könnten auch Tiere handeln. Ich werde in diesem Beitrag zunächst Stoeckers Begründung seiner zweigeteilten These rekapitulieren (1) und dann zwei Rückfragen dazu stellen: (a) Warum soll es gerade die Praxis des logon didonai sein, die Verhalten zu Handlungen im engen Sinne macht? (b) Warum soll es genau zwei (...)
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  22. Omissions, Moral Luck, and Minding the (Epistemic) Gap.Joseph Metz - 2021 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (4):301-314.
    This paper warns of two threats to moral responsibility that arise when accounting for omissions, given some plausible assumptions about how abilities are related to responsibility. The first problem threatens the legitimacy of our being responsible by expanding the preexisting tension that luck famously raises for moral responsibility. The second threat to moral responsibility challenges the legitimacy of our practices of holding responsible. Holding others responsible for their omissions requires us to bridge an epistemic gap that does not arise when (...)
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  23. Revisiting the Six Stages of Skill Acquisition.B. Scot Rousse & Stuart E. Dreyfus - 2021 - In Teaching and Learning for Adult Skill Acquisition: Applying the Dreyfus & Dreyfus Model in Different Fields. Charlotte, NC, USA: pp. 3-28.
    The acquisition of a new skill usually proceeds through five stages, from novice to expert, with a sixth stage of mastery available for highly motivated performers. In this chapter, we re-state the six stages of the Dreyfus Skill Model, paying new attention to the transitions and interrelations between them. While discussing the fifth stage, expertise, we unpack the claim that, “when things are proceeding normally, experts don’t solve problems and don’t make decisions; they do what normally works” (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, (...)
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  24. Seumas Miller on Knowing-How and Joint Abilities.Yuri Cath - 2020 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 9:14-21.
    A critical discussion of Seumas Miller's view on knowing-how and joint abilities.
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  25. It’s Up to You.Randolph Clarke - 2020 - The Monist 103 (3):328-341.
    Part of our ordinary conception of our freedom is the idea that commonly when we act—and often even when we don’t act—it is up to us whether we do this or that. This paper examines efforts to spell out what must be the case for this idea to be correct. Several claims regarding the basic metaphysics of agential powers are considered; they are found not to shed light on the issue. Thinking about agents’ psychological capacities provides some illumination, though the (...)
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  26. Children’s Capacities and Paternalism.Samantha Godwin - 2020 - The Journal of Ethics 24 (3):307-331.
    Paternalism is widely viewed as presumptively justifiable for children but morally problematic for adults. The standard explanation for this distinction is that children lack capacities relevant to the justifiability of paternalism. I argue that this explanation is more difficult to defend than typically assumed. If paternalism is often justified when needed to keep children safe from the negative consequences of their poor choices, then when adults make choices leading to the same negative consequences, what makes paternalism less justified? It seems (...)
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  27. 'Ought Implies Can' and the Possibility of Group Obligations.Isaac Hadfield - 2020 - British Undergraduate Philosophy Review 1 (1):40-49.
    Positing group level obligations has come under attack from concerns relating to agency as a necessary requirement for obligation bearing. Roughly stated, the worry is that since only agents can have moral obligations, and groups are not agents, groups cannot have moral obligations. The intuition behind this constraint is itself based on the ability requirement of 'ought implies can': in order for a group to have an obligation it must have the ability to perform an action, but only agents can (...)
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  28. Unable to Do the Impossible.Anthony Nguyen - 2020 - Mind 129 (514):585-602.
    Jack Spencer has recently argued for the striking thesis that, possibly, an agent is able to do the impossible—that is, perform an action that is metaphysically impossible for that person to perform. Spencer bases his argument on (Simple G), a case in which it is impossible for an agent G to perform some action but, according to Spencer, G is still intuitively able to perform that action. I reply that we would have to give up at least four action-theoretical principles (...)
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  29. Ability and Possibility.Wolfgang Schwarz - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20.
    According to the classical quantificational analysis of modals, an agent has the ability to perform an act iff relevant facts about the agent and her environment are compatible with her performing the act. The analysis faces a number of problems, many of which can be traced to the fact that it takes even accidental performance of an act as proof of the relevant ability. I argue that ability statements are systematically ambiguous: on one reading, accidental performance really is enough; on (...)
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  30. Exercising Abilities.J. Adam Carter - 2019 - Synthese (3):1-15.
    According to one prominent view of exercising abilities (e.g., Millar 2009), a subject, S, counts as exercising an ability to ϕ if and only if S successfully ϕs. Such an ‘exercise-success’ thesis looks initially very plausible for abilities, perhaps even obviously or analytically true. In this paper, however, I will be defending the position that one can in fact exercise an ability to do one thing by doing some entirely distinct thing, and in doing so I’ll highlight various reasons (epistemological, (...)
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  31. Skilled action.Wayne Christensen - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (11):e12631.
    I focus on problems defining skill and a core theoretical dispute over whether skilled action is largely automatic or consciously controlled. The dominant view in philosophy and psychology has been that skills are automatic, but an emerging body of work suggests that conscious cognition plays a significant role.
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  32. Free Will and Abilities to Act.Randolph Clarke - 2019 - In Klaus von Stosch Saskia Wendel (ed.), Streit um die Freiheit: Philosophische und theologische Beiträge. Schoeningh/Brill. pp. 41-62.
    This paper examines the view of abilities to act advanced by Kadri Vihvelin in Causes, Laws, and Free Will. Vihvelin argues that (i) abilities of an important kind are “structurally” like dispositions such as fragility; (ii) ascriptions of dispositions can be analyzed in terms of counterfactual conditionals; (iii) ascriptions of abilities of the kind in question can be analyzed similarly; and (iv) we have the free will we think we have by having abilities of this kind and being in circumstances (...)
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  33. Moral Responsibility Without General Ability.Taylor W. Cyr & Philip Swenson - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (274):22-40.
    It is widely thought that, to be morally responsible for some action or omission, an agent must have had, at the very least, the general ability to do otherwise. As we argue, however, there are counterexamples to the claim that moral responsibility requires the general ability to do otherwise. We present several cases in which agents lack the general ability to do otherwise and yet are intuitively morally responsible for what they do, and we argue that such cases raise problems (...)
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  34. Welche Fähigkeiten gäbe es in einer deterministischen Welt?Geert Keil - 2019 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 73 (1):5-28.
    In a recent paper, Romy Jaster and Ansgar Beckermann have added a new twist to the traditional debate about the compatibility of free will with determinism. They wonder whether the abilities required for free will are compatible with determinism. According to a view that Helen Steward dubbed »agency incompatibilism«, there could be no actions and no agential powers if determinism were true. Against my advocacy of agency incompatibilism, Jaster and Beckermann argue that only a very specific kind of abilities is (...)
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  35. Does Everyone Think the Ability to do Otherwise is Necessary for Free Will and Moral Responsibility?Simon Kittle - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (4):1177-1183.
    Christopher Franklin argues that, despite appearances, everyone thinks that the ability to do otherwise is required for free will and moral responsibility. Moreover, he says that the way to decide which ability to do otherwise is required will involve settling the nature of moral responsibility. In this paper I highlight one point on which those usually called leeway theorists - i.e. those who accept the need for alternatives - agree, in contradistinction to those who deny that the ability to do (...)
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  36. ›Wissen, dass‹ und ›Wissen, wie‹.David Löwenstein - 2019 - In Martin Grajner & Guido Melchior (eds.), Handbuch Erkenntnistheorie. Stuttgart: Metzler. pp. 116-121.
    This is an introduction to the debate about Know-how.
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  37. What is the locus of abililties?Felipe Morales - 2019 - Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio 2 (12):19-30.
    Loughlin’s (2018) uses Wittgenstein’s remarks in Philosophical Investigations to motivate his ‘wide’ view of cognition. In opposition to other accounts of extended cognition, his view presents a negative solution to the location problem. Here, I argue that, if we consider Wittgenstein’s remarks on the notion of ability, the support for the wide view is not as straightforward. The criteria for using the concept of ability are highly context-dependent, and there is not a single account for them. This shows that at (...)
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  38. Infinite Power and Finite Powers.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2019 - In Benedikt Paul Goecke (ed.), The Infinity of God: Scientific, Theological, and Philosophical Perspectives. Notre Dame University Press.
    Alexander Pruss and I have proposed an analysis of omnipotence which makes no use of the problematic terms 'power' and 'ability'. However, this raises an obvious worry: if our analysis is not related to the notion of power, then how can it count as an analysis of omnipotence, the property of being all-powerful, at all? In this paper, I show how omnipotence can be understood as the possession of infinite power (general, universal, or unlimited power) rather than the possession of (...)
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  39. Philosophy of Action from Suarez to Davidson.Constantine Sandis (ed.) - 2019
  40. The Two-Dimensional Analysis of Feasibility: A Restatement.Renan Silva - 2019 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 6 (2):357-378.
    Pablo Gilabert and Holly Lawford-Smith have, both in collaboration and individually, provided a compelling account of feasibility, which states that feasibility is both ‘binary’ and ‘scalar’, and both ‘synchronic’ and ‘diachronic’. This two-dimensional analysis, however, has been the subject of four major criticisms: it has been argued that it rests upon a false distinction between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ constraints, that it ignores the importance of intentional action, and that diachronic feasibility is incoherent and insensitive to the existence of epistemic limitations. (...)
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  41. Basic Action and Practical Knowledge.Will Small - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    It is a commonplace in philosophy of action that there is and must be teleologically basic action: something done on an occasion without doing it by means of doing anything else. It is widely believed that basic actions are exercises of skill. As the source of the need for basic action is the structure of practical reasoning, this yields a conception of skill and practical reasoning as complementary but mutually exclusive. On this view, practical reasoning and complex intentional action depend (...)
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  42. Are abilities dispositions?Barbara Vetter - 2019 - Synthese 196 (196):201-220.
    Abilities are in many ways central to what being an agent means, and they are appealed to in philosophical accounts of a great many different phenomena. It is often assumed that abilities are some kind of dispositional property, but it is rarely made explicit exactly which dispositional properties are our abilities. Two recent debates provide two different answers to that question: the new dispositionalism in the debate about free will, and virtue reliabilism in epistemology. This paper argues that both answers (...)
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  43. An Analysis of Recent Empirical Data on ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’.Yishai Cohen - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (1):57-67.
    Recent experimental studies dispute the position that commonsense morality accepts ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’, the view that, necessarily, if an agent ought to perform some action, then she can perform that action. This paper considers and supports explanations for the results of these studies on the hypothesis that OIC is intuitive and true.
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  44. Neuropsychology and the Criminal Responsibility of Psychopaths: Reconsidering the Evidence.Marko Jurjako & Luca Malatesti - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (5):1003-1025.
    Recently it has been argued that certain neuropsychological findings on the decision-making, instrumental learning, and moral understanding in psychopathic offenders offer reasons to consider them not criminally responsible, due to certain epistemic and volitional impairments. We reply to this family of arguments, that collectively we call the irresponsibility of the psychopath argument. This type of argument has a premise that describes or prescribes the deficiencies that grant or should grant partial or complete criminal exculpation. The other premise contends that neuropsychological (...)
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  45. Précis zu Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account.David Löwenstein - 2018 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 72 (1):95-99.
    This is a précis of my book "Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account".
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  46. Regresse und Routinen. Repliken auf Brandt und Jung.David Löwenstein - 2018 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 72 (1):110-113.
    This paper responds to comments and criticisms by Stefan Brandt and Eva-Maria Jung, directed at the book "Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account".
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  47. Thrasymachus’ Unerring Skill and the Arguments of Republic 1.Tamer Nawar - 2018 - Phronesis 63 (4):359-391.
    In defending the view that justice is the advantage of the stronger, Thrasymachus puzzlingly claims that rulers never err and that any practitioner of a skill or expertise (τέχνη) is infallible. In what follows, Socrates offers a number of arguments directed against Thrasymachus’ views concerning the nature of skill, ruling, and justice. Commentators typically take a dim view of both Thrasymachus’ claims about skill (which are dismissed as an ungrounded and purely ad hoc response to Socrates’ initial criticisms) and Socrates’ (...)
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  48. What ability can do.Ben Schwan - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (3):703-723.
    One natural way to argue for the existence of some subjective constraint on agents’ obligations is to maintain that without that particular constraint, agents will sometimes be obligated to do that which they lack the ability to do. In this paper, I maintain that while such a strategy appears promising, it is fraught with pitfalls. Specifically, I argue that because the truth of an ability ascription depends on an (almost always implicit) characterization of the relevant possibility space, different metaethical accounts (...)
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  49. Blameworthiness and Unwitting Omissions.Randolph Clarke - 2017 - In Dana Kay Nelkin and Samuel C. Rickless (ed.), The Ethics and Law of Omissions. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 63-83.
    This paper argues that agents can be directly blameworthy for unwitting omissions. The view developed focuses on the capacities and abilities of agents.
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  50. Semicompatibilism: no ability to do otherwise required.Taylor W. Cyr - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (3):308-321.
    In this paper, I argue that it is open to semicompatibilists to maintain that no ability to do otherwise is required for moral responsibility. This is significant for two reasons. First, it undermines Christopher Evan Franklin’s recent claim that everyone thinks that an ability to do otherwise is necessary for free will and moral responsibility. Second, it reveals an important difference between John Martin Fischer’s semicompatibilism and Kadri Vihvelin’s version of classical compatibilism, which shows that the dispute between them is (...)
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