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Jack Spencer
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  1. Why Take Both Boxes?Jack Spencer & Ian Wells - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (1):27-48.
    The crucial premise of the standard argument for two-boxing in Newcomb's problem, a causal dominance principle, is false. We present some counterexamples. We then offer a metaethical explanation for why the counterexamples arise. Our explanation reveals a new and superior argument for two-boxing, one that eschews the causal dominance principle in favor of a principle linking rational choice to guidance and actual value maximization.
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  2. An Argument Against Causal Decision Theory.Jack Spencer - 2021 - Analysis 81 (1):52-61.
    This paper develops an argument against causal decision theory. I formulate a principle of preference, which I call the Guaranteed Principle. I argue that the preferences of rational agents satisfy the Guaranteed Principle, that the preferences of agents who embody causal decision theory do not, and hence that causal decision theory is false.
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  3. Knowledge of Objective 'Oughts': Monotonicity and the New Miners Puzzle.Daniel Muñoz & Jack Spencer - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103 (1):77-91.
    In the classic Miners case, an agent subjectively ought to do what they know is objectively wrong. This case shows that the subjective and objective ‘oughts’ are somewhat independent. But there remains a powerful intuition that the guidance of objective ‘oughts’ is more authoritative—so long as we know what they tell us. We argue that this intuition must be given up in light of a monotonicity principle, which undercuts the rationale for saying that objective ‘oughts’ are an authoritative guide for (...)
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  4. Able to Do the Impossible.Jack Spencer - 2017 - Mind 126 (502):466-497.
    According to a widely held principle—the poss-ability principle—an agent, S, is able to only if it is metaphysically possible for S to. I argue against the poss-ability principle by developing a novel class of counterexamples. I then argue that the consequences of rejecting the poss-ability principle are interesting and far-reaching.
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  5. Rational monism and rational pluralism.Jack Spencer - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):1769-1800.
    Consequentialists often assume rational monism: the thesis that options are always made rationally permissible by the maximization of the selfsame quantity. This essay argues that consequentialists should reject rational monism and instead accept rational pluralism: the thesis that, on different occasions, options are made rationally permissible by the maximization of different quantities. The essay then develops a systematic form of rational pluralism which, unlike its rivals, is capable of handling both the Newcomb problems that challenge evidential decision theory and the (...)
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  6. No Crystal Balls.Jack Spencer - 2020 - Noûs 54 (1):105-125.
    The world is said to contain crystal balls whenever the present carries news of the as-yet-undetermined parts of the future. Many philosophers believe that crystal balls are metaphysically possible. In this essay, I argue that they are not. Whether crystal balls are possible matters, for at least two reasons. The first is epistemological. According to a simple, user-friendly chance norm for credence, which I call the Present Principle, agents are rationally required to conform their credences to their expectations of the (...)
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  7. Can It Be Irrational to Knowingly Choose the Best?Jack Spencer - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    Seeking a decision theory that can handle both the Newcomb problems that challenge evidential decision theory and the unstable problems that challenge causal decision theory, some philosophers recently have turned to ‘graded ratifiability’. The graded ratifiability approach to decision theory is, however, despite its virtues, unsatisfactory; for it conflicts with the platitude that it is always rationally permissible for an agent to knowingly choose their best option.
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  8. Relativity and Degrees of Relationality.Jack Spencer - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (2):432-459.
    Some well-known metaphysical arguments against relativism rest on the claim that relativity somehow must be accompanied by relationality. I argue otherwise, and trace the consequences for some prominent disputes between relativists and absolutists.
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  9. Objective Value Is Always Newcombizable.Arif Ahmed & Jack Spencer - 2020 - Mind 129 (516):1157-1192.
    This paper argues that evidential decision theory is incompatible with options having objective values. If options have objective values, then it should always be rationally permissible for an agent to choose an option if they are certain that the option uniquely maximizes objective value. But, as we show, if options have objective values and evidential decision theory is true, then it is not always rationally permissible for an agent to choose an option if they are certain that the option uniquely (...)
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    Disagreement and Attitudinal Relativism.Jack Spencer - 2016 - Mind 125 (498):511-539.
    Jacob Ross and Mark Schroeder argue that invariantist accounts of disagreement are incompatible with the phenomenon of reversibility. In this essay I develop a non-standard theory of propositional attitudes, which I call attitudinal relativism. Using the resources of attitudinal relativism, I articulate an invariantist account of disagreement that is compatible with reversibility.
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  11. The procreative asymmetry and the impossibility of elusive permission.Jack Spencer - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (11):3819-3842.
    This paper develops a form of moral actualism that can explain the procreative asymmetry. Along the way, it defends and explains the attractive asymmetry: the claim that although an impermissible option can be self-conditionally permissible, a permissible option cannot be self-conditionally impermissible.
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  12. Review of Arif Ahmed (Ed.), Newcomb's Problem. [REVIEW]Jack Spencer - 2019 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2019.