This book deals with foundational issues in the theory of the nature of action, the intentionality of action, the compatibility of freedom of action with determinism, and the explantion of action. Ginet's is a volitional view: that every action has as its core a 'simple' mental action. He develops a sophisticated account of the individuation of actions and also propounds a challenging version of the view that freedom of action is incompatible with determinism.
This paper examines the account of guidance control given in Fischer and Ravizza's book, Responsibility and Control, with the aim of revising it so as to make it a better account of what needs to be added to having alternatives open to yield a specification of the control condition for responsibility that will be acceptable to an adherent of the principle that one is responsible for something only if one could have avoided it.
This book comprises eleven essays in the philosophy of action, six of which were previously published. The book has a fairly extensive index. The essays are arranged in four groups. The first group contains two essays on the individuation of action. The second contains four essays that argue for the view that what makes an event an action is, not how it is caused, but that it is, or begins with, a volition, “an intrinsically actional” mental event. The third contains (...) three essays that defend the view that free and responsible action is incompatible with determinism, largely by arguing for a noncausal account of reasons explanation of action. The final group contains two essays on intention formation and rationality; the first argues that it is sometimes rational to form intentions that are inconsistent with each other or with one’s beliefs; the second argues that an important sort of practical reasoning has as its conclusion the forming of an intention for action, rather than the adopting of a belief as to what one should do. (shrink)
This paper first distinguishes three alternative views that adherents to both incompatibilism and PAP may take as to what constitutes an agent''s determining or controlling her action (if it''s not the action''s being deterministically caused by antecedent events): the indeterministic-causation view, the agent-causation view, and "simple indeterminism." The bulk of the paper focusses on the dispute between simple indeterminism - the view that the occurrence of a simple mental event is determined by its subject if it possesses the "actish" phenomenal (...) quality and is undetermined by antecedent events - and Timothy O''Connor''s agent-causation view. It defends simple indeterminism against O''Connor''s objections to it and offers objections to O''Connor''s view. (shrink)
If among the spate of books on free will in recent years there are any that a philosopher concerned with that topic should have handy, this is one of them. Its coverage of the free-will issues debated in the philosophical literature of the last twenty years or so is penetrating, instructive, and by far the most thorough I’ve seen. Kane defends his own positions, but he is unusually fair, even generous, in expounding opposing views. And, while the book is not (...) a popular treatment, it is written in an accessible and engaging style. It could have been shorter, by being less repetitious and in places more succinctly written, without loss of content or accessibility—indeed with some gain in accessibility for those who are not engaged in reading it through but just wish to consult it for what it has to say on particular issues. There is a fairly extensive and helpful index. It is altogether a very appealing and useful book. (shrink)
The reliability of a belief-producing process is a matter of how likely it is that the process will produce beliefs that are true. The term reliabilism may be used to refer to any position that makes this idea of reliability central to the explication of some important epistemic concept. I know of three such positions that appeal to some epistemologists: a reliabilist account of what makes a belief justified, a reliabilist account of what makes a true belief knowledge, and a (...) reliabilist answer to the question of the fourth condition, the question of what must be added to justified true belief to make knowledge. Obviously these are alternative positions rather than parts of a single coherent whole. I think of the first as reliabilism’s boldest stand, the second as the position to which it may retreat when the first is found untenable, and the third as its last refuge. I will criticize only the first two positions. (shrink)
This paper defends my claim in earlier work that certain non-causal conditions are sufficient for the truth of some reasons explanations of actions, against the critique of this claim given by Randolph Clarke in his book, Libertarian Accounts of Free Will.
ABSTRACT: This paper develops an account of what it is for a proposition to be self- evident to someone, based on the idea that certain propositions are such that to fully understand them is to believe them. It argues that when a proposition p is self-evident to one, one has non-inferential a priori justification for believing that p and, a welcome feature, a justification that does not involve exercising any special sort of intuitive faculty; if, in addition, it is true (...) that p and there exists no reason to believe that the proposition that p is incoherent, then one knows a priori that p. The paper argues that certain deeply contingent truths, e.g., the truth that I would now express by saying “I exist”, can be self-evident to, and thus known a priori by, the person they are about at the time they are about; but, since they cannot be known a priori, or even expressed, by anyone else or at any other time, they should not count as a priori truths. (shrink)
If moral responsibility requires uncaused action, as I believe, and if a reasons explanation of an action must be a causal explanation, as many philosophers of action suppose, then it follows that our responsible actions are ones we do for no reason, which is preposterous. In previous work I have argued against the second premise of this deduction, claiming that the statement that a person did A in order to satisfy their desire D will be true if the person, while (...) doing A, intended of that action that it contribute to satisfying their desire D, a condition that does not entail any causal connection between the explaining desire and the explained action. This claim has received trenchant criticism from Randolph Clarke. The main part of the present paper responds to Clarke’s latest objections. The rest of the paper addresses another worry about my account : does my non-causal sufficient condition hold as widely as it needs to if responsible, uncaused actions are as widespread as we would like to think? (shrink)
The paper explicates a version of dispositionalism and defends it against Kripke's objections (in his "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language") that 1) it leaves out the normative aspect of a rule, 2) it cannot account for the directness of the knowledge one has of what one meant, and 3) regarding rules for computable functions of numbers, a) there are numbers beyond one's capacity to consider and b) there are people who are disposed to make systematic mistakes in computing values (...) of functions they understand perfectly well. (shrink)
Alfred Mele and David Robb (1998, 2003) offer what they claim is a counter-example to the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP), the principle that a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise. In their example, a person makes a decision by his own indeterministic causal process though antecedent circumstances ensure he could not have done otherwise. Specifically, a simultaneously occurring process in him would deterministically cause the decision at the precise time (...) it actually occurs if he were not to make it 'on his own' i.e. without being deterministically caused.Their case is designed to avoid a well-known dilemma that has plagued earlier apparent counterexamples of this sort. We argue, however, that Mele andRobb's example does not have all the features necessary in order for it to undermine PAP. It still fails to avoid the original dilemma. (shrink)
One of the most influential analytic philosophers of the late twentieth century, William P. Alston is a leading light in epistemology, philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of language. In this volume, twelve leading philosophers critically discuss the central topics of his work in these areas, including perception, epistemic circularity, justification, the problem of religious diversity, and truth.