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Kieran Setiya
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  1. What is a Reason to Act?Kieran Setiya - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (2):221-235.
    Argues for a conception of reasons as premises of practical reasoning. This conception is applied to questions about ignorance, advice, enabling conditions, "ought," and evidence.
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  2.  76
    Reasons Without Rationalism.Kieran Setiya - 2007 - Princeton University Press.
    Modern philosophy has been vexed by the question "Why should I be moral?" and by doubts about the rational authority of moral virtue. In Reasons without Rationalism, Kieran Setiya shows that these doubts rest on a mistake. The "should" of practical reason cannot be understood apart from the virtues of character, including such moral virtues as justice and benevolence, and the considerations to which the virtues make one sensitive thereby count as reasons to act. Proposing a new framework for debates (...)
  3. Cognitivism About Instrumental Reason.Kieran Setiya - 2007 - Ethics 117 (4):649-673.
    Argues for a "cognitivist" account of the instrumental principle, on which it is the application of theoretical reason to the beliefs that figure in our intentions. This doctrine is put to work in solving a puzzle about instrumental reason that plagues alternative views.
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  4. Practical Knowledge.Kieran Setiya - 2008 - Ethics 118 (3):388-409.
    Argues that we know without observation or inference at least some of what we are doing intentionally and that this possibility must be explained in terms of knowledge-how. It is a consequence of the argument that knowing how to do something cannot be identified with knowledge of a proposition.
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  5.  5
    Reasons Without Rationalism.Kieran Setiya - 2009 - Analysis 69 (3):509-510.
    Reasons without Rationalism has two related parts, devoted to action theory and ethics, respectively. In the second part, I argue for a close connection between reasons for action and virtues of character. This connection is mediated by the idea of good practical thought and the disposition to engage in it. The argument relies on the following principle, which is intended as common ground: " Reasons: The fact that p is a reason for A to ϕ just in case A has (...)
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  6.  66
    Review of Edouard Machery, "Philosophy Within its Proper Bounds". [REVIEW]Kieran Setiya - 2018 - London Review of Books.
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  7. Epistemic Agency: Some Doubts.Kieran Setiya - 2013 - Philosophical Issues 23 (1):179-198.
    Argues for a deflationary account of epistemic agency. We believe things for reasons and our beliefs change over time, but there is no further sense in which we are active in judgement, inference, or belief.
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  8. Knowing How.Kieran Setiya - 2012 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 112 (3pt3):285-307.
    Argues from the possibility of basic intentional action to a non-propositional theory of knowing how. The argument supports a broadly Anscombean conception of the will as a capacity for practical knowledge.
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  9.  52
    Humanism.Kieran Setiya - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    Argues for a form of humanism on which we have reason to care about human beings that we do not have to care about other animals and human beings have rights against us other animals lack. Humanism respects the equal worth of those born with severe congenital cognitive disabilities. I address the charge of 'speciesism' and explain how being human is an ethically relevant fact.
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  10. Practical Knowledge Revisited.Kieran Setiya - 2009 - Ethics 120 (1):128-137.
    Argues that the view propounded in "Practical Knowledge" (Ethics 118: 388-409) survives objections made by Sarah Paul ("Intention, Belief, and Wishful Thinking," Ethics 119: 546-557). The response gives more explicit treatment to the nature and epistemology of knowing how.
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  11. Knowledge of Intention.Kieran Setiya - 2011 - In Anton Ford, Jennifer Hornsby & Frederick Stoutland (eds.), Essays on Anscombe's Intention. Harvard University Press. pp. 170--197.
    Argues that it is not by inference from intention that I know what I am doing intentionally. Instead, the reverse is true: groundless knowledge of intention rests on the will as a capacity for non-perceptual, non-inferential knowledge of action. The argument adapts and clarifies considerations of "transparency" more familiar in connection with belief.
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  12. Knowing Right From Wrong.Kieran Setiya - 2012 - Oxford University Press.
    Can we have objective knowledge of right and wrong, of how we should live and what there is reason to do? Can it be anything but luck when our moral beliefs are true? Kieran Setiya confronts these questions in their most compelling and articulate forms, and argues that if there is objective ethical knowledge, human nature is its source.
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  13. Love and the Value of a Life.Kieran Setiya - 2014 - Philosophical Review 123 (3):251-280.
    Argues that there is no one it is irrational to love, that it is rational to act with partiality to those we love, and that the rationality of doing so is not conditional on love. It follows that Anscombe and Taurek are right: you are not required to save three instead of one, even when those you could save are perfect strangers.
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  14. Explaining Action.Kieran Setiya - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (3):339-393.
    Argues that, in acting for a reason, one takes that reason to explain one's action, not to justify it: reasons for acting need not be seen "under the guise of the good". The argument turns on the need to explain the place of "practical knowledge" - knowing what one is doing - in intentional action. A revised and expanded version of this material appears in Part One of "Reasons without Rationalism" (Princeton, 2007).
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  15. Believing at Will.Kieran Setiya - 2008 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 32 (1):36-52.
    Argues that we cannot form beliefs at will without failure of attention or logical confusion. The explanation builds on Williams' argument in "Deciding to Believe," attempting to resolve some well-known difficulties. The paper ends with tentative doubts about the idea of judgement as intentional action.
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  16. The Midlife Crisis.Kieran Setiya - 2014 - Philosophers' Imprint 14.
    Argues that philosophy can solve the midlife crisis, at least in one of its forms. This crisis turns on the exhaustibility of our ends. The solution is to value ends that are ‘atelic,’ so inexhaustible. Topics include: John Stuart Mill's nervous breakdown; Aristotle on the finality of the highest good; and Schopenhauer on the futility of desire.
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  17. Must Consequentialists Kill?Kieran Setiya - 2018 - Journal of Philosophy 115 (2):92-105.
    Argues that the ethics of killing and saving lives is best described by agent-neutral consequentialism, not by appeal to agent-centred restrictions. It does not follow that killings are worse than accidental deaths or that you should kill one to prevent more killings. The upshot is a puzzle about killing and letting die.
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  18. Sympathy for the Devil.Kieran Setiya - 2010 - In Sergio Tenenbaum (ed.), Desire, Practical Reason, and the Good. Oxford University Press. pp. 82--110.
    Argues that, while human beings may act "under the guise of the good," this is not true of rational agents, as such. Themes discussed along the way – extending the argument of "Reasons without Rationalism" (Princeton, 2007) – include: desires as appearances of the good, the intelligibility of vice, and the kind of essentialist claim that permits exceptions.
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  19.  14
    Idleness as Flourishing.Kieran Setiya - 2018 - Public Books.
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  20. Intention.Kieran Setiya - 2009 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Philosophical perplexity about intention begins with its appearance in three guises: intention for the future, as when I intend to complete this entry by the end of the month; the intention with which someone acts, as I am typing with the further intention of writing an introductory sentence; and intentional action, as in the fact that I am typing these words intentionally. As Elizabeth Anscombe wrote in a similar context, ‘it is implausible to say that the word is equivocal as (...)
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  21. Murdoch on the Sovereignty of Good.Kieran Setiya - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13.
    Argues for an interpretation of Iris Murdoch on which her account of moral reasons has Platonic roots, and on which she gives an ontological proof of the reality of the Good. This reading explains the structure of Sovereignty, how Murdoch's claims differ from a focus on "thick moral concepts," and how to find coherent arguments in her book.
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  22. Against Internalism.Kieran Setiya - 2004 - Noûs 38 (2):266–298.
    Argues that practical irrationality is akin to moral culpability: it is defective practical thought which one could legitimately have been expected to avoid. It is thus a mistake to draw too tight a connection between failure to be moved by reasons and practical irrationality (as in a certain kind of "internalism"): one's failure may be genuine, but not culpable, and therefore not irrational.
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  23. Internal Reasons.Kieran Setiya - 2012 - In Kieran Setiya & Hille Paakkunainen (eds.), Internal Reasons: Contemporary Readings. MIT Press.
    Argues that "internalism about reasons" owes its appeal to a function argument from the nature of agency. Internalism is thus revealed as a species of ethical rationalism. (This paper introduces a volume of recent work on internal and external reasons.).
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  24. Akrasia and the Constitution of Agency.Kieran Setiya - 2016 - In Practical Knowledge: Selected Essays. Oxford University Press.
    Argues that we do not act intentionally ‘under the guise of the good.’ This makes it hard to explain why akrasia is distinctively irrational; but this is no objection, since it is just as hard to explain on the opposing view. Ends with a problem of akrasia for ethical rationalists.
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  25. Reasons and Causes.Kieran Setiya - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (1):129-157.
    Argues for a causal-psychological account of acting for reasons. This view is distinguished from a more ambitious causal theory of action, clarified as far as possible, and motivated—against non-reductive, teleological, and behaviourist alternatives—on broadly metaphysical grounds.
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  26. Causality in Action.Kieran Setiya - 2013 - Analysis 73 (3):501-512.
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  27.  65
    Retrospection.Kieran Setiya - 2016 - Philosophers' Imprint 16.
    Argues from the rationality of nostalgia, affirmation, and regret to a principle of ‘specificity’: it can be rational to respond more strongly to facts that provide us with reasons than to the fact that such reasons exist.
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  28. Transparency and Inference.Kieran Setiya - 2012 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 112 (2pt2):263-268.
    Argues that doubts about the inference from 'p' to 'I believe that p' do not support reflective theories of self-knowledge over an inferential or rule-following view. (This note is a reply to Matthew Boyle, "Transparent Self-Knowledge," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume 85: 223-241.).
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  29.  69
    The Ethics of Existence.Kieran Setiya - 2014 - Philosophical Perspectives 28 (1):291-301.
    Argues that inadvisable procreative acts should often be affirmed in retrospect. This shift is not explained by attachment or love but by the moral impact of existence.
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  30.  16
    Review of Jennifer Summit and Blakey Vermeule, 'Action Versus Contemplation'. [REVIEW]Kieran Setiya - 2018 - Los Angeles Review of Books.
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  31.  16
    Review of Peter Singer, 'Does Anything Really Matter?' and Derek Parfit, 'On What Matters: Volume Three'. [REVIEW]Kieran Setiya - 2017 - Times Literary Supplement.
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  32.  48
    Broome on Reasons to Act.Kieran Setiya - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (1):204-210.
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  33.  11
    Going Deep: Baseball and Philosophy.Kieran Setiya - 2017 - Public Books.
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  34.  75
    Other People.Kieran Setiya - manuscript
    Argues for the role of personal acquaintance in both love and concern for individuals, as such. The challenge is to say what personal acquaintance is and why it matters in the way it does. These questions are addressed through the work of Emmanuel Levinas. Topics include: the ethics of aggregation, the basis of moral standing, and the value of human life.
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  35. Transcendental Idealism in the 'Aesthetic'.Kieran Setiya - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (1):63–88.
    In the "Transcendental Aesthetic" of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant offers an argument for transcendental idealism. This argument is one focus of the longstanding controversy between "one-world" and "two-world" interpretations of the distinction between things in themselves and things as they appear. I present an interpretation of the argument of the "Aesthetic" that supports a novel "one-world" interpretation. On this interpretation, Kant is concerned with the mind-dependence of spatial and temporal properties; and with the idea that space and time (...)
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  36.  10
    Review of Roger Scruton, 'On Human Nature'. [REVIEW]Kieran Setiya - 2017 - Times Literary Supplement.
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  37. Intention, Plans, and Ethical Rationalism.Kieran Setiya - 2014 - In Manuel Vargas & Gideon Yaffe (eds.), Rational and Social Agency: The Philosophy of Michael Bratman. Oxford University Press. pp. 56-82.
    Argues from the planning theory of intention – as an account of means-end coherence – to a comprehensive form of ethical rationalism. Having raised objections to this result, the paper ends by sketching a way out.
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  38. Does Moral Theory Corrupt Youth?Kieran Setiya - 2010 - Philosophical Topics 38 (1):205-222.
    Argues that the answer is yes. The epistemic assumptions of moral theory deprive us of resources needed to resist the challenge of moral disagreement, which its practice at the same time makes vivid. The paper ends by sketching a kind of epistemology that can respond to disagreement without skepticism: one in which the fundamental standards of justification for moral belief are biased toward the truth.
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  39.  38
    Review of Justin Broackes, Ed., 'Iris Murdoch, Philosopher'. [REVIEW]Kieran Setiya - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (249):878-881.
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  40. 10. Neil MacCormick, Practical Reason in Law and Morality Neil MacCormick, Practical Reason in Law and Morality (Pp. 192-196).Henry S. Richardson, Cécile Fabre, Joshua Glasgow, Alison Hills, Kieran Setiya & Hallie Rose Liberto - 2009 - In John Hawthorne (ed.), Ethics. Wiley Periodicals.
  41.  85
    Reply to Bratman and Smith.Kieran Setiya - 2009 - Analysis 69 (3):531-540.
    To begin with, I am deeply grateful to Michael Bratman and Michael Smith for their generosity in responding to my book, for the care with which they have read it, and for the challenge of meeting their objections. I am also grateful for their support and encouragement over the years. It is a pleasure to engage with them here.Because their comments raise many related difficulties, this reply will treat them together, beginning with brief consideration of issues in action theory before (...)
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  42.  52
    Is Efficiency a Vice?Kieran Setiya - 2005 - American Philosophical Quarterly 42 (4):333 - 339.
    Argues against the form of instrumentalism on which being practically rational is being efficient in the pursuit of one's ends. The trait of means-end efficiency turns out to be a defect of character, and therefore cannot be identified with practical reason at its best.
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  43. Anscombe on Practical Knowledge.Kieran Setiya - 2016 - In Practical Knowledge: Selected Essays. Oxford University Press.
    Argues that, for Anscombe, 'practical knowledge' is only sometimes 'the cause of what it understands.' It is the formal cause when its object is 'formally the description of an executed intention.' Nor is such knowledge confined to the present progressive: we have practical knowledge of the future and the past.
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  44. Selfish Reasons.Kieran Setiya - 2015 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 2.
    Argues against the rationality of self-concern. Non-instrumental interest in my own well-being is not justified by the fact that it is mine. This follows from the metaphysics of first-person thought, as thought about the object of immediate knowledge. The argument leaves room for rational self-interest as a form of self-love that is justified, like love for others, by the fact of our shared humanity.
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  45.  14
    Ignorance, Beneficence, and Rights.Kieran Setiya - forthcoming - Journal of Moral Philosophy.
    Argues that ignorance of who will die makes a difference to the ethics of killing. It follows that reasons are subject to ‘specificity’: it can be rational to respond more strongly to facts that provide us with reasons than to the fact that such reasons exist. In the case of killing and letting die, these reasons are distinctively particular: they turn on personal acquaintance. The theory of rights must be, in part, a theory of this relation.
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  46. Review of Derek Parfit, 'On What Matters'. [REVIEW]Kieran Setiya - 2011 - Mind 120 (480):1281-1288.
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  47.  6
    Review of Michael Ignatieff, 'The Ordinary Virtues'. [REVIEW]Kieran Setiya - 2017 - Times Literary Supplement.
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  48.  70
    Internal Reasons: Contemporary Readings.Kieran Setiya & Hille Paakkunainen (eds.) - 2011 - MIT Press.
    Some of the most challenging questions in philosophical ethics concern the justification of action. Can you have reasons to do something that you are not, and perhaps cannot be, motivated to do? If reasons rest on desires, why respect the rights and interests of others when doing so prevents us from getting what we want? In other words, why be moral? In his 1979 essay, "Internal and External Reasons," Bernard Williams framed the dispute about reason and motivation in a way (...)
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  49. Hume on Practical Reason.Kieran Setiya - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):365–389.
    Argues that Hume was a sceptic about practical reason only on a rationalist account of what it would have to be. (This version differs substantially from the published paper.).
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  50. Review of Mark Johnston, 'Saving God' and 'Surviving Death'. [REVIEW]Kieran Setiya - 2011 - Ethics 121 (2):476-486.
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