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Alfred Mele
Florida State University
  1. Free Will and Luck.Alfred R. Mele - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
    Mele's ultimate purpose in this book is to help readers think more clearly about free will. He identifies and makes vivid the most important conceptual obstacles to justified belief in the existence of free will and meets them head on. Mele clarifies the central issues in the philosophical debate about free will and moral responsibility, criticizes various influential contemporary theories about free will, and develops two overlapping conceptions of free will--one for readers who are convinced that free will is incompatible (...)
  2. Autonomous Agents: From Self Control to Autonomy.Alfred R. Mele - 1995 - Oxford University Press.
    Autonomous Agents addresses the related topics of self-control and individual autonomy. "Self-control" is defined as the opposite of akrasia-weakness of will. The study of self-control seeks to understand the concept of its own terms, followed by an examination of its bearing on one's actions, beliefs, emotions, and personal values. It goes on to consider how a proper understanding of self-control and its manifestations can shed light on personal autonomy and autonomous behaviour. Perspicuous, objective, and incisive throughout, Alfred Mele makes a (...)
  3. Motivation and Agency.Alfred R. Mele - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
    What place does motivation have in the lives of intelligent agents? Mele's answer is sensitive to the concerns of philosophers of mind and moral philosophers and informed by empirical work. He offers a distinctive, comprehensive, attractive view of human agency. This book stands boldly at the intersection of philosophy of mind, moral philosophy, and metaphysics.
  4. Effective Intentions: The Power of Conscious Will.Alfred R. Mele - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
    Each of the following claims has been defended in the scientific literature on free will and consciousness: your brain routinely decides what you will do before you become conscious of its decision; there is only a 100 millisecond window of opportunity for free will, and all it can do is veto conscious decisions, intentions, or urges; intentions never play a role in producing corresponding actions; and free will is an illusion. In Effective Intentions Alfred Mele shows that the evidence offered (...)
  5.  89
    Springs of Action: Understanding Intentional Behavior.Alfred R. Mele - 1992 - Oxford University Press.
    Tackling some central problems in the philosophy of action, Mele constructs an explanatory model for intentional behavior, locating the place and significance of such mental phenomena as beliefs, desires, reason, and intentions in the etiology of intentional action. Part One comprises a comprehensive examination of the standard treatments of the relations between desires, beliefs, and actions. In Part Two, Mele goes on to develop a subtle and well-defended view that the motivational role of intentions is of a different sort from (...)
  6. Free Will and Luck: Reply to Critics.Alfred R. Mele - 2007 - Philosophical Explorations 10 (2):153 – 155.
    Mele's ultimate purpose in this book is to help readers think more clearly about free will. He identifies and makes vivid the most important conceptual obstacles to justified belief in the existence of free will and meets them head on. Mele clarifies the central issues in the philosophical debate about free will and moral responsibility, criticizes various influential contemporary theories about free will, and develops two overlapping conceptions of free will--one for readers who are convinced that free will is incompatible (...)
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  7.  65
    Self-Deception Unmasked.Alfred R. Mele - 2001 - Princeton University Press.
    Self-deception raises complex questions about the nature of belief and the structure of the human mind. In this book, Alfred Mele addresses four of the most critical of these questions: What is it to deceive oneself? How do we deceive ourselves? Why do we deceive ourselves? Is self-deception really possible? -/- Drawing on cutting-edge empirical research on everyday reasoning and biases, Mele takes issue with commonplace attempts to equate the processes of self-deception with those of stereotypical interpersonal deception. Such attempts, (...)
  8. Irrationality: An Essay on `Akrasia', Self-Deception, and Self-Control.Alfred R. Mele - 1987 - Oxford University Press.
    Although much human action serves as proof that irrational behaviour is remarkably common, certain forms of irrationalityDSmost incontinent action and self-deceptionDSpose such difficult problems that philosophers have rejected them as logically or psychologically impossible. Here, Alfred Mele shows that incontinent action and self-deception are indeed possible.
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  9.  82
    Intentional Action : Two-and-a-Half Folk Concepts?Fiery Cushman & Alfred Mele - 2008 - In Joshua Knobe & Shaun Nichols (eds.), Experimental Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 171.
    What are the criteria people use when they judge that other people did something intentionally? This question has motivated a large and growing literature both in philosophy and in psychology. It has become a topic of particular concern to the nascent field of experimental philosophy, which uses empirical techniques to understand folk concepts. We present new data that hint at some of the underly- ing psychological complexities of folk ascriptions of intentional action and at dis- tinctions both between diverse concepts (...)
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  10. Rescuing Frankfurt-Style Cases.Alfred R. Mele & David Robb - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (1):97-112.
    Almost thirty years ago, in an attempt to undermine what he termed "the principle of alternate possibilities" (the thesis that people are morally responsible for what they have done only if they could have done otherwise), Harry Frankfurt offered an ingenious thought-experiment that has played a major role in subsequent work on moral responsibility and free will. Several philosophers, including David Widerker and Robert Kane, argued recently that this thought-experiment and others like it are fundamentally flawed. This paper develops a (...)
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  11. Manipulation, Compatibilism, and Moral Responsibility.Alfred R. Mele - 2008 - The Journal of Ethics 12 (3-4):263-286.
    This article distinguishes among and examines three different kinds of argument for the thesis that moral responsibility and free action are each incompatible with the truth of determinism: straight manipulation arguments; manipulation arguments to the best explanation; and original-design arguments. Structural and methodological matters are the primary focus.
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  12. Intentional Action.Alfred R. Mele & Paul K. Moser - 1994 - Noûs 28 (1):39-68.
    We shall formulate an analysis of the ordinary notion of intentional action that clarifies a commonsense distinction between intentional and nonintentional action. Our analysis will build on some typically neglected considerations about relations between lucky action and intentional action. It will highlight the often- overlooked role of evidential considerations in intentional action, thus identifying the key role of certain epistemological considerations in action theory. We shall also explain why some vagueness is indispensable in a characterization of intentional action as ordinarily (...)
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  13.  12
    Springs of Action: Understanding Intentional Behavior.Alfred R. Mele - 2002 - Oxford University Press.
    In this book, Alfred Mele tackles some central problems in the philosophy of action. His purpose is to construct an explanatory model for intentional behaviour, locating the place and significance of such mental phenomena as beliefs, desires, reasons and intentions in the etiology of intentional action.
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  14. Real Self-Deception.Alfred R. Mele - 1997 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (1):91-102.
    Self-deception poses tantalizing conceptual conundrums and provides fertile ground for empirical research. Recent interdisciplinary volumes on the topic feature essays by biologists, philosophers, psychiatrists, and psychologists (Lockard & Paulhus 1988, Martin 1985). Self-deception's location at the intersection of these disciplines is explained by its significance for questions of abiding interdisciplinary interest. To what extent is our mental life present--or even accessible--to consciousness? How rational are we? How is motivated irrationality to be explained? To what extent are our beliefs subject to (...)
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  15. Humean Compatibilism.Helen Beebee & Alfred Mele - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):201-223.
    Humean compatibilism is the combination of a Humean position on laws of nature and the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism. This article's aim is to situate Humean compatibilism in the current debate among libertarians, traditional compatibilists, and semicompatibilists about free will. We argue that a Humean about laws can hold that there is a sense in which the laws of nature are 'up to us' and hence that the leading style of argument for incompatibilism?the consequence argument?has a (...)
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  16. Agents' Abilities.Alfred R. Mele - 2003 - Noûs 37 (3):447–470.
    Claims about agents’ abilities—practical abilities—are common in theliterature on free will, moral responsibility, moral obligation, personalautonomy, weakness of will, and related topics. These claims typicallyignore differences among various kinds or levels of practical ability. Inthis article, using ‘A’ as an action variable, I distinguish among threekinds or levels: simple ability toA; ability toAintentionally; and a morereliable kind of ability toAassociated with promising toA. I believe thatattention to them will foster progress on the topics I mentioned. Substan-tiating that belief—by making progress (...)
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  17. Ultimate Responsibility and Dumb Luck*: ALFRED R. MELE.Alfred R. Mele - 1999 - Social Philosophy and Policy 16 (2):274-293.
    My topic lies on conceptual terrain that is quite familiar to philosophers. For others, a bit of background may be in order. In light of what has filtered down from quantum mechanics, few philosophers today believe that the universe is causally deterministic. That is, to use Peter van Inwagen's succinct definition of “determinism,” few philosophers believe that “there is at any instant exactly one physically possible future.” Even so, partly for obvious historical reasons, philosophers continue to argue about whether free (...)
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  18.  87
    Intentional Action, Folk Judgments, and Stories: Sorting Things Out.Alfred R. Mele & Fiery Cushman - 2007 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 31 (1):184–201.
    How are our actions sorted into those that are intentional and those that are not? The philosophical and psychological literature on this topic is livelier now than ever, and we seek to make a contribution to it here. Our guiding question in this article is easy to state and hard to answer: How do various factors— specifically, features of vignettes—that contribute to majority folk judgments that an action is or is not intentional interact in producing the judgment? In pursuing this (...)
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  19. Weakness of Will and Akrasia.Alfred Mele - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (3):391–404.
    Richard Holton has developed a view of the nature of weak-willed actions, and I have done the same for akratic actions. How well does this view of mine fare in the sphere of weakness of will? Considerably better than Holton’s view. That is a thesis of this article. The article’s aim is to clarify the nature of weak-willed actions. Holton reports that he is "trying to give an account of our ordinary notion of weakness of will" (1999, p. 262). One (...)
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  20.  1
    Self-Deception Unmasked.Alfred R. Mele - 2000 - Princeton University Press.
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  21. Free Will in Everyday Life: Autobiographical Accounts of Free and Unfree Actions.Tyler F. Stillman, Roy F. Baumeister & Alfred R. Mele - 2011 - Philosophical Psychology 24 (3):381 - 394.
    What does free will mean to laypersons? The present investigation sought to address this question by identifying how laypersons distinguish between free and unfree actions. We elicited autobiographical narratives in which participants described either free or unfree actions, and the narratives were subsequently subjected to impartial analysis. Results indicate that free actions were associated with reaching goals, high levels of conscious thought and deliberation, positive outcomes, and moral behavior (among other things). These findings suggest that lay conceptions of free will (...)
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  22.  7
    Mental Causation.John Heil & Alfred Mele - 1995 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 185 (1):105-106.
    Common sense and philosophical tradition agree that mind makes a difference. What we do depends not only on how our bodies are put together, but also on what we think. Explaining how mind can make a difference has proved challenging, however. Some have urged that the project faces an insurmountable dilemma: either we concede that mentalistic explanations of behavior have only a pragmatic standing or we abandon our conception of the physical domain as causally autonomous. Although each option has its (...)
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  23.  77
    Acting Intentionally: Probing Folk Notions.Alfred Mele - 2001 - In Bertram Malle, L. J. Moses & Dare Baldwin (eds.), Intentions and Intentionality: Foundations of Social Cognition. MIT Press. pp. 27--43.
    In the first section, I will argue that the folk concept of necessary conditions for intentional action needs refinement. In the second and third sections, I will identify some additional issues one would need to explore in con- structing a statement of individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for intentional action. I will conclude with a brief discussion of the conceptual analyst’s task.
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  24.  31
    Direct Versus Indirect: Control, Moral Responsibility, and Free Action.Alfred R. Mele - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  25. Fischer and Ravizza on Moral Responsibility.Alfred R. Mele - 2006 - Journal of Ethics 10 (3):283-294.
    The author argued elsewhere that a necessary condition that John Fischer and Mark Ravizza offer for moral responsibility is too strong and that the sufficient conditions they offer are too weak. This article is a critical examination of their reply. Topics discussed include blameworthiness, irresistible desires, moral responsibility, reactive attitudes, and reasons responsiveness.
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  26.  44
    Backsliding: Understanding Weakness of Will.Alfred R. Mele - 2012 - Oup Usa.
    People backslide. They freely do things they believe it would be best on the whole not to do. Mele draws on work in social and developmental psychology and in psychiatry to motivate a view of human behavior in which both backsliding and overcoming the temptation to backslide are explicable.
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  27.  19
    Aspects of Agency: Decisions, Abilities, Explanations, and Free Will.Alfred R. Mele - 2017 - Oup Usa.
    Mele develops a view of paradigmatically free actions--including decisions--as indeterministically caused by their proximal causes. He mounts a masterful defense of this thesis that includes solutions to problems about luck and control widely discussed in the literature on free will and moral responsibility.
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  28. Intentional Action: Controversies, Data, and Core Hypotheses.Alfred R. Mele - 2003 - Philosophical Psychology 16 (2):325-340.
    This article reviews some recent empirical work on lay judgments about what agents do intentionally and what they intend in various stories and explores its bearing on the philosophical project of providing a conceptual analysis of intentional action. The article is a case study of the potential bearing of empirical studies of a variety of folk concepts on philosophical efforts to analyze those concepts and vice versa. Topics examined include double effect; the influence of moral considerations on judgments about what (...)
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  29.  75
    Moral Responsibility and the Continuation Problem.Alfred R. Mele - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (2):237-255.
    Typical incompatibilists about moral responsibility and determinism contend that being basically morally responsible for a decision one makes requires that, if that decision has proximal causes, it is not deterministically caused by them. This article develops a problem for this contention that resembles what is sometimes called the problem of present (or cross-world) luck. However, the problem makes no reference to luck nor to contrastive explanation. This article also develops a solution.
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  30. Manipulation, Moral Responsibility, and Bullet Biting.Alfred R. Mele - 2013 - The Journal of Ethics 17 (3):167-184.
    This article’s guiding question is about bullet biting: When should compatibilists about moral responsibility bite the bullet in responding to stories used in arguments for incompatibilism about moral responsibility? Featured stories are vignettes in which agents’ systems of values are radically reversed by means of brainwashing and the story behind the zygote argument. The malady known as “intuition deficit disorder” is also discussed.
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  31. Moral Responsibility and History Revisited.Alfred R. Mele - 2008 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (5):463 - 475.
    Compatibilists about determinism and moral responsibility disagree with one another about the bearing of agents’ histories on whether or not they are morally responsible for some of their actions. Some stories about manipulated agents prompt such disagreements. In this article, I call attention to some of the main features of my own “history-sensitive” compatibilist proposal about moral responsibility, and I argue that arguments advanced by Michael McKenna and Manuel Vargas leave that proposal unscathed.
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  32.  46
    Persisting Intentions.Alfred R. Mele - 2007 - Noûs 41 (4):735–757.
    Al is nearly finished sweeping his kitchen floor when he notices, on a counter, a corkscrew that should be put in a drawer. He intends to put the corkscrew away as soon as he is finished with the floor; but by the time he returns the broom and dustpan to the closet, he has forgotten what he intended to do. Al knows (or has a true belief) that there is something he intended to do now in the kitchen. He gazes (...)
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  33. Free: Why Science Hasn't Disproved Free Will.Alfred R. Mele - 2014 - Oxford University Press USA.
    Does free will exist? The question has fueled heated debates spanning from philosophy to psychology and religion. The answer has major implications, and the stakes are high. To put it in the simple terms that have come to dominate these debates, if we are free to make our own decisions, we are accountable for what we do, and if we aren't free, we're off the hook.There are neuroscientists who claim that our decisions are made unconsciously and are therefore outside of (...)
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  34.  7
    Manipulated Agents: A Window to Moral Responsibility.Alfred R. Mele - 2019 - Oup Usa.
    In Manipulated Agents, Alfred R. Mele examines the role one's history plays in whether or not one is morally responsible for one's actions. Mele develops a "history-sensitive" theory of moral responsibility through reflection on a wide range of thought experiments which feature agents who have been manipulated or designed in ways that directly affect their actions.
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  35.  44
    Free Will and Moral Responsibility: Manipulation, Luck, and Agents’ Histories.Alfred R. Mele - 2019 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1):75-92.
    Midwest Studies In Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  36. Agency and Mental Action.Alfred R. Mele - 1997 - Philosophical Perspectives 11:231-249.
    My question here is whether there are intentional mental actions that generate special, significant threats to causalism (i.e., threats of a kind not generated by intentional overt actions), or that generate, more poi- gnantly, problems for causalism that some intentional overt actions allegedly generate, as well.
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  37. Self-Deception and Delusions.Alfred Mele - 2006 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 2 (1):109-124.
    My central question in this paper is how delusional beliefs are related to self-deception. In section 1, I summarize my position on what self-deception is and how representative instances of it are to be explained. I turn to delusions in section 2, where I focus on the Capgras delusion, delusional jealousy (or the Othello syndrome), and the reverse Othello syndrome.
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  38.  72
    Free Will and Substance Dualism: The Real Scientific Threat to Free Will?Alfred Mele - 2014 - In W. Sinnot-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, Vol. 4: Free Will and Responsibility. MIT Press.
    Mele uses survey methods of experimental philosophy to argue that folk notions of freedom and responsibility do not really require any dubious mind–body dualism. In his comment, Nadelhoffer questions Mele's interpretation of the experiments and adds contrary data of his own. Vargas then suggests that Mele overlooks yet another threat to free will—sourcehood. Mele replies by reinterpreting Nadelhoffer's data and rejecting Vargas’ claim that free will requires sourcehood.
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  39.  70
    Internalist Moral Cognitivism and Listlessness.Alfred R. Mele - 1996 - Ethics 106 (4):727-753.
    This paper criticizes the conjunction of two theses: 1) cognitivism about first-person moral ought-beliefs, the thesis (roughly) that such beliefs are attitudes with truth-valued contents; 2) robust internalism about these beliefs, the thesis that, necessarily, agents' beliefs that they ought, morally, to A constitute motivation to A. It is argued that the conjunction of these two theses places our moral agency at serious risk. The argument, which centrally involves attention to clinical depression, is extended to a less demanding, recent brand (...)
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  40. A Critique of Pereboom's 'Four-Case Argument' for Incompatibilism.Alfred R. Mele - 2005 - Analysis 65 (1):75-80.
    One popular style of argument for the thesis that determinism is incompatible with moral responsibility features manipulation. Its thrust is that regarding moral responsibility, there is no important difference between various cases of manipulation in which agents who A are not morally responsible for A-ing and ordinary cases of A-ing in deterministic worlds. There is a detailed argument of this kind in Derk Pereboom’s recent book (2001: 112–26). His strategy in what he calls his ‘four-case argument’ (117) is to describe (...)
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  41. Intention, Intentional Action, and Moral Responsibility.Alfred Mele & Steven Sverdlik - 1996 - Philosophical Studies 82 (3):265 - 287.
    Philosophers traditionally have been concerned both to explain intentional behavior and to evaluate it from a moral point of view. Some have maintained that whether actions (and their consequences) properly count as intended sometimes hinges on moral considerations - specifically, considerations of moral responsibility. The same claim has been made about an action's properly counting as having been done intentionally. These contentions will be made more precise in subsequent sections, where influential proponents are identified. Our aim in this paper is (...)
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  42. Situationism and Agency.Alfred R. Mele & Joshua Shepherd - 2013 - 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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  43. The Philosophy of Action.Alfred R. Mele (ed.) - 1997 - Oxford University Press.
    The latest offering in the highly successful Oxford Readings in Philosophy series, The Philosophy of Action features contributions from twelve leading figures in the field, including: Robert Audi, Michael Bratman, Donald Davidson, Wayne Davis, Harry Frankfurt, Carl Ginet, Gilbert Harman, Jennifer Hornsby, Jaegwon Kim, Hugh McCann, Paul Moser, and Brian O'Shaughnessy. Alfred Mele provides an introductory essay on the topics chosen and the questions they deal with. Topics addressed include intention, reasons for action, and the nature and explanation of internal (...)
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  44. Kane, Luck, and the Significance of Free Will.Alfred R. Mele - 1999 - Philosophical Explorations 2 (2):96-104.
    This paper raises a pair of objections to the novel libertarian position advanced in Robert Kane's recent book, The Significance of Free Will.The first objection's target is a central element in Kane's intriguing response to what he calls the "Intelligibility" and "Existence" questions about free will. It is argued that this response is undermined by considerations of luck.The second objection is directed at a portion of Kane's answer to what he calls "The Significance Question" about free will: "Why do we, (...)
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  45.  74
    Mental Action: A Case Study.Alfred Mele - 2009 - In Lucy O'Brien & Matthew Soteriou (eds.), Mental Actions. Oxford University Press. pp. 17.
    This chapter argues that a proper understanding of the difference between trying to do something and trying to bring it about that one does it sheds light on the nature of mental action. For example, even if one cannot, strictly speaking, try to think of seven animal names that begin with ‘g’, one can try to bring it about that one thinks of seven such names, and one can succeed. In some versions of this scenario, one's successful attempt involves no (...)
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  46.  47
    Moral Responsibility: Radical Reversals and Original Designs.Alfred Mele - 2016 - The Journal of Ethics 20 (1-3):69-82.
    This article identifies and assesses a way of thinking that might help to explain why some compatibilists are attracted to what is variously called an internalist, structuralist, or anti-historicist view of moral responsibility—a view about the bearing of agents’ histories on their moral responsibility. Scenarios of two different kinds are considered. Several scenarios feature heavy-duty manipulation that radically changes an agent’s mature moral personality from admirable to despicable or vice versa. These “radical reversal” scenarios are contrasted with a scenario featuring (...)
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  47. Moral Responsibility and Agents' Histories.Alfred Mele - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 142 (2):161 - 181.
    To what extent should an analysis of an agent’s being morally responsible for an action that he performed—especially a compatibilist analysis of this—be sensitive to the agent’s history? In this article, I give the issue a clearer focus than it tends to have in the literature, I lay some groundwork for an attempt to answer the question, and I motivate a partial but detailed answer.
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  48.  96
    Unconscious Decisions and Free Will.Alfred Mele - 2013 - Philosophical Psychology 26 (6):777-789.
    It is sometimes claimed that certain experiments show that free will is an illusion by showing that all decisions are made unconsciously. I have argued elsewhere that these experiments do not show that any decisions are made unconsciously. But suppose I am wrong about that. Even then, I argue, these experiments do not pose a serious threat to free will. First, one is not warranted in generalizing from findings about the decisions allegedly made in these experiments to the claim that (...)
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  49. Twisted Self-Deception.Alfred R. Mele - 1999 - Philosophical Psychology 12 (2):117-137.
    In instances of "twisted" self-deception, people deceive themselves into believing things that they do not want to be true. In this, twisted self-deception differs markedly from the "straight" variety that has dominated the philosophical and psychological literature on self-deception. Drawing partly upon empirical literature, I develop a trio of approaches to explaining twisted self-deception: a motivation-centered approach; an emotion-centered approach; and a hybrid approach featuring both motivation and emotion. My aim is to display our resources for exploring and explaining twisted (...)
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  50. Moral Responsibility for Actions: Epistemic and Freedom Conditions.Alfred Mele - 2010 - Philosophical Explorations 13 (2):101-111.
    Two questions guide this article. First, according to Fischer and Ravizza (jointly and otherwise), what epistemic requirements for being morally responsible for performing an action A are not also requirements for freely performing A? Second, how much progress have they made on this front? The article's main moral is for philosophers who believe that there are epistemic requirements for being morally responsible for A-ing that are not requirements for freely A-ing because they assume that Fischer (on his own or otherwise) (...)
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