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Matthew Silverstein
New York University, Abu Dhabi
  1. The Shmagency Question.Matthew Silverstein - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1127-1142.
    Constitutivists hope to locate the foundations of ethics in the nature of action. They hope to find norms that are constitutive of agency. Recently David Enoch has argued that even if there are such norms, they cannot provide the last word when it comes to normativity, since they cannot tell us whether we have reason to be agents rather than shmagents. I argue that the force of the shmagency objection has been considerably overestimated, because philosophers on both sides of the (...)
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  2. Reducing Reasons.Matthew Silverstein - 2016 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 10 (1):1-22.
    Reasons are considerations that figure in sound reasoning. This is considered by many philosophers to be little more than a platitude. I argue that it actually has surprising and far-reaching metanormative implications. The view that reasons are linked to sound reasoning seems platitudinous only because we tend to assume that soundness is a normative property, in which case the view merely relates one normative phenomenon (reasons) to another (soundness). I argue that soundness is also a descriptive phenomenon, one we can (...)
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  3. In Defense of Happiness: A Response to the Experience Machine.Matthew Silverstein - 2000 - Social Theory and Practice 26 (2):279-300.
    Many philosophers believe that Robert Nozick's experience machine argument poses an insurmountable obstacle to hedonism as a theory of well-being. After an initial attempt to demonstrate that the persuasiveness of this argument rests on a key ambiguity, I argue that the intuitions to which the thought experiment appeals are not nearly as clear as many philosophers suppose they are. I believe that a careful consideration of the origin of those intuitions -- especially in light of the so-called "paradox of hedonism" (...)
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  4. Ethics and Practical Reasoning.Matthew Silverstein - 2017 - Ethics 127 (2):353 - 382.
    How is practical reasoning related to ethical reasoning? The most common view is that they are identical: practical reasoning just is ethical reasoning. I criticize this view and then propose an alternative account of the relation between ethical thought and practical thought: ethical reasoning is reasoning about sound practical reasoning. I argue that this account of the relation between ethics and practical reasoning explains various phenomena that more familiar views leave unexplained. It also entails that the philosophy of action bears (...)
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  5. Teleology and Normativity.Matthew Silverstein - 2016 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 11:214-240.
    Constitutivists seek to locate the metaphysical foundations of ethics in nonnormative facts about what is constitutive of agency. For most constitutivists, this involves grounding authoritative norms in the teleological structure of agency. Despite a recent surge in interest, the philosophical move at the heart of this sort of constitutivism remains underdeveloped. Some constitutivists—Foot, Thomson, and Korsgaard (at least in her recent *Self-Constitution*)—adopt a broadly Aristotelian approach. They claim that the functional nature of agency grounds normative judgments about agents in much (...)
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  6. Inescapability and Normativity.Matthew Silverstein - 2012 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 6 (3):1-27.
    When we make ethical claims, we invoke a kind of objective authority. A familiar worry about our ethical practices is that this invocation of authority involves a mistake. This worry was perhaps best captured by John Mackie, who argued that the fabric of the world contains nothing so queer as objective authority and thus that all our ethical claims are false. Kantians such as Christine Korsgaard and David Velleman offer accounts of the objectivity of ethics that do without the controversial (...)
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  7. Reasoning in Stages.Nishi Shah & Matthew Silverstein - 2013 - Ethics 124 (1):101-113.
    Mark Schroeder has recently presented apparent counterexamples to the standard account of the distinction between the right and the wrong kinds of reasons. We argue that these examples appear to refute the standard account only because they blur the distinction between two kinds of reasoning: reasoning about whether to intend or believe that p and reasoning about whether to take up the question of whether to intend or believe that p.
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  8. Agency and Normative Self-Governance.Matthew Silverstein - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):517-528.
    We are agents: we can deliberate about what to do, and then act on the basis of that deliberation. We are also capable of normative self-governance: we can identify and respond to reasons as reasons. Many theorists believe that these two capacities are intimately connected. On the basis of this connection they conclude that practical reasoning must be carried out under the guise of a justification. This paper explores two strategies for avoiding that conclusion. The first, which just denies the (...)
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    Review of Constructing Practical Reasons, by Andreas Müller. [REVIEW]Matthew Silverstein - forthcoming - Mind.
    Review of Andreas Müller's Constructing Practical Reasons.
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  10. The Standards of Practical Reasoning. [REVIEW]Matthew Silverstein - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240):631-638.
    A critical study of Kieran Setiya's *Reasons without Rationalism*.
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