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Ralph Wedgwood [80]Ralph Nicholas Wedgwood [1]
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Ralph Wedgwood
University of Southern California
  1. The Nature of Normativity.Ralph Wedgwood - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
    This is a book about normativity -- where the central normative terms are words like 'ought' and 'should' and their equivalents in other languages. It has three parts: The first part is about the semantics of normative discourse: what it means to talk about what ought to be the case. The second part is about the metaphysics of normative properties and relations: what is the nature of those properties and relations whose pattern of instantiation makes propositions about what ought to (...)
  2.  79
    Plato's Theory of Knowledge.Ralph Wedgwood - 2018 - In David Brink, Susan Sauvé Meyer & Christopher Shields (eds.), Virtue, Happiness, Knowledge: Themes from the Work of Gail Fine and Terence Irwin. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 33-56.
    An account of Plato’s theory of knowledge is offered. Plato is in a sense a contextualist: at least, he recognizes that his own use of the word for “knowledge” varies – in some contexts, it stands for the fullest possible level of understanding of a truth, while in other contexts, it is broader and includes less complete levels of understanding as well. But for Plato, all knowledge, properly speaking, is a priori knowledge of necessary truths – based on recollection of (...)
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  3. Justified Inference.Ralph Wedgwood - 2012 - Synthese 189 (2):273-295.
    What is the connection between justification and the kind of consequence relations that are studied by logic? In this essay, I shall try to provide an answer, by proposing a general conception of the kind of inference that counts as justified or rational.
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  4. The Aim of Belief.Ralph Wedgwood - 2002 - Philosophical Perspectives 36 (s16):267-97.
    It is often said, metaphorically, that belief "aims" at the truth. This paper proposes a normative interpretation of this metaphor. First, the notion of "epistemic norms" is clarified, and reasons are given for the view that epistemic norms articulate essential features of the beliefs that are subject to them. Then it is argued that all epistemic norms--including those that specify when beliefs count as rational, and when they count as knowledge--are explained by a fundamental norm of correct belief, which requires (...)
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  5.  4
    The Nature of Normativity.Ralph Wedgwood - 2008 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (2):227-228.
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  6.  77
    The Nature of Normativity: Reply to Holton, Railton, and Lenman. [REVIEW]Ralph Wedgwood - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (3):479-491.
    In this article, I reply to the comments that Richard Holton, Peter Railton, and James Lenman have made on my 2007 book "The Nature of Normativity".
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  7. Internalism Explained.Ralph Wedgwood - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (2):349-369.
    According to epistemological internalism, the rationality of a belief supervenes purely on "internal facts" about the thinker's mind. But what are "internal facts"? Why does the rationality of a belief supervene on them? The standard answers are unacceptable. This paper proposes new answers. "Internal facts" are facts about the thinker's nonfactive mental states. The rationality of a belief supervenes on such internal facts because we need rules of belief revision that we can follow directly, not by means of following any (...)
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  8. Outright Belief.Ralph Wedgwood - 2012 - Dialectica 66 (3):309–329.
    Sometimes, we think of belief as a phenomenon that comes in degrees – that is, in the many different levels of confidence that a thinker might have in various different propositions. Sometimes, we think of belief as a simple two-place relation that holds between a thinker and a proposition – that is, as what I shall here call "outright belief".
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  9. The Pitfalls of ‘Reasons’.Ralph Wedgwood - 2015 - Philosophical Issues 25 (1):123-143.
    Many philosophers working on the branches of philosophy that deal with the normative questions have adopted a " Reasons First" program. This paper criticizes the foundational assumptions of this program. In fact, there are many different concepts that can be expressed by the term 'reason' in English, none of which are any more fundamental than any others. Indeed, most of these concepts are not particularly fundamental in any interesting sense.
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  10.  10
    White Queen Psychology and Other Essays for Alice.Ralph Wedgwood & Ruth Garrett Millikan - 1995 - Philosophical Review 104 (1):156.
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  11.  21
    Epistemic Teleology: Synchronic and Diachronic.Ralph Wedgwood - 2018 - In Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij & Jeff Dunn (eds.), Epistemic Consequentialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 85-112.
    According to a widely held view of the matter, whenever we assess beliefs as ‘rational’ or ‘justified’, we are making normative judgements about those beliefs. In this discussion, I shall simply assume, for the sake of argument, that this view is correct. My goal here is to explore a particular approach to understanding the basic principles that explain which of these normative judgements are true. Specifically, this approach is based on the assumption that all such normative principles are grounded in (...)
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  12. Defending Double Effect.Ralph Wedgwood - 2011 - Ratio 24 (4):384-401.
    This essay defends a version of the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) – the doctrine that there is normally a stronger reason against an act that has a bad state of affairs as one of its intended effects than against an otherwise similar act that has that bad state of affairs as an unintended effect. First, a precise account of this version of the DDE is given. Secondly, some suggestions are made about why we should believe the DDE, and about (...)
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  13. The Meaning of 'Ought'.Ralph Wedgwood - 2006 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics: Volume 1. Clarendon Press. pp. 127-160.
    In this paper, I apply the "conceptual role semantics" approach that I have proposed elsewhere (according to which the meaning of normative terms is given by their role in practical reasoning or deliberation) to the meaning of the term 'ought'. I argue that this approach can do three things: It can give an adequate explanation of the special connection that normative judgments have to practical reasoning and motivation for action. It can give an adequate account of why the central principles (...)
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  14. The Normative Force of Reasoning.Ralph Wedgwood - 2006 - Noûs 40 (4):660–686.
    What exactly is reasoning? Like many other philosophers, I shall endorse a broadly causal conception of reasoning. Reasoning is a causal process, in which one mental event (say, one’s accepting the conclusion of a certain argument) is caused by an antecedent mental event (say, one’s considering the premises of the argument). Just like causal accounts of action and causal accounts of perception, causal accounts of reasoning have to confront a version of what has come to be known as the problem (...)
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  15.  33
    A Probabilistic Epistemology of Perceptual Belief.Ralph Wedgwood - 2018 - Philosophical Issues 28 (1):1-25.
    There are three well-known models of how to account for perceptual belief within a probabilistic framework: (a) a Cartesian model; (b) a model advocated by Timothy Williamson; and (c) a model advocated by Richard Jeffrey. Each of these models faces a problem—in effect, the problem of accounting for the defeasibility of perceptual justification and perceptual knowledge. It is argued here that the best way of responding to this the best way of responding to this problem effectively vindicates the Cartesian model. (...)
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  16. Gandalf's Solution to the Newcomb Problem.Ralph Wedgwood - 2013 - Synthese 190 (14).
    This article proposes a new theory of rational decision, distinct from both causal decision theory (CDT) and evidential decision theory (EDT). First, some intuitive counterexamples to CDT and EDT are presented. Then the motivation for the new theory is given: the correct theory of rational decision will resemble CDT in that it will not be sensitive to any comparisons of absolute levels of value across different states of nature, but only to comparisons of the differences in value between the available (...)
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  17. Rational 'Ought' Implies 'Can'.Ralph Wedgwood - 2013 - Philosophical Issues 23 (1):70-92.
    Every kind of ‘ought’ implies some kind of ‘can’ – but there are many kinds of ‘ought’ and even more kinds of ‘can’. In this essay, I shall focus on a particular kind of ‘ought’ – specifically, on what I shall call the “rational ‘ought’”. On every occasion of use, this kind of ‘ought’ is focused on the situation of a particular agent at a particular time; but this kind of ‘ought’ is concerned, not with how that agent acts at (...)
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  18.  98
    Doxastic Correctness.Ralph Wedgwood - 2013 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):217-234.
    If beliefs are subject to a basic norm of correctness—roughly, to the principle that a belief is correct only if the proposition believed is true—how can this norm guide believers in forming their beliefs? Answer: this norm guides believers indirectly: believers are directly guided by requirements of rationality—which are themselves explained by this norm of correctness. The fundamental connection between rationality and correctness is probabilistic. Incorrectness comes in degrees; for beliefs, these degrees of incorrectness are measured by quadratic scoring rules, (...)
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  19. Normativism Defended.Ralph Wedgwood - 2007 - In Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan D. Cohen (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. pp. 85--102.
    The aim of this chapter is to defend the claim that “the intentional is normative” against a number of objections, including those that Georges Rey has presented in his contribution to this volume. First, I give a quick sketch of the principal argument that I have used to support this claim, and briefly comment on Rey’s criticisms of this argument. Next, I try to answer the main objections that have been raised against this claim. First, it may seem that the (...)
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  20. The Moral Evil Demons.Ralph Wedgwood - 2010 - In Richard Feldman & Ted Warfield (eds.), Disagreement. Oxford University Press.
    Moral disagreement has long been thought to create serious problems for certain views in metaethics. More specifically, moral disagreement has been thought to pose problems for any metaethical view that rejects relativism—that is, for any view that implies that whenever two thinkers disagree about a moral question, at least one of those thinkers’ beliefs about the question is not correct. In this essay, I shall outline a solution to one of these problems. As I shall argue, it turns out in (...)
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  21. Conceptual Role Semantics for Moral Terms.Ralph Wedgwood - 2001 - Philosophical Review 110 (1):1-30.
    This paper outlines a new approach to the task of giving an account of the meaning of moral statements: a sort of "conceptual role semantics", according to which the meaning of moral terms is given by their role in practical reasoning. This role is sufficient both to distinguish the meaning of any moral term from that of other terms, and to determine the property or relation (if any) that the term stands for. The paper ends by suggesting reasons for regarding (...)
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  22. The "Good" and the "Right" Revisited.Ralph Wedgwood - 2009 - Philosophical Perspectives 23 (1):499-519..
    Moral philosophy has long been preoccupied by a supposed dichotomy between the "good" and the "right". This dichotomy has been taken to define certain allegedly central issues for ethics. How are the good and the right related to each other? For example, is one of the two "prior" to the other? If so, is the good prior to the right, or is the right prior to the good?
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  23. Intrinsic Values and Reasons for Action.Ralph Wedgwood - 2009 - In Ernest Sosa & Enrique Villanueva (eds.), Metaethics. Wiley Periodicals. pp. 342-363.
    What reasons for action do we have? What explains why we have these reasons? This paper articulates some of the basic structural features of a theory that would provide answers to these questions. According to this theory, reasons for action are all grounded in intrinsic values, but in a way that makes room for a thoroughly non-consequentialist view of the way in which intrinsic values generate reasons for aaction.
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  24. Choosing Rationally and Choosing Correctly.Ralph Wedgwood - 2003 - In Sarah Stroud & Christine Tappolet (eds.), Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality. Oxford University Press. pp. 201--229.
    Let us take an example that Bernard Williams (1981: 102) made famous. Suppose that you want a gin and tonic, and you believe that the stuff in front of you is gin. In fact, however, the stuff is not gin but petrol. So if you drink the stuff (even mixed with tonic), it will be decidedly unpleasant, to say the least. Should you choose to drink the stuff or not?
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  25. Rationality as a Virtue.Ralph Wedgwood - 2014 - Analytic Philosophy 55 (4):319-338.
    A concept that can be expressed by the term ‘rationality’ plays a central role in both epistemology and ethics -- and especially in formal epistemology and decision theory. It is argued here that when the term is used in this way, the concept of “rationality” is the concept of a kind of virtue, with all the central features that are ascribed to the virtues by Plato and Aristotle, among others. Interpreting rationality as a kind of virtue helps to solve several (...)
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  26.  10
    The Unity of Normativity.Ralph Wedgwood - 2018 - In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 23-45.
    What is normativity? It is argued here that normativity is best understood as a property of certain concepts: normative thoughts are those involving these normative concepts; normative statements are statements that express normative thoughts; and normative facts are the facts (if such there be) that make such normative thoughts true. Many philosophers propose that there is a single basic normative concept—perhaps the concept of a reason for an action or attitude—in terms of which all other normative concepts can be defined. (...)
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  27. Primitively Rational Belief-Forming Processes.Ralph Wedgwood - 2011 - In Andrew Reisner & Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen (eds.), Reasons for Belief. Cambridge University Press. pp. 180--200.
    Intuitively, it seems that some belief-forming practices have the following three properties: 1. They are rational practices, and the beliefs that we form by means of these practices are themselves rational or justified beliefs. 2. Even if in most cases these practices reliably lead to correct beliefs (i.e., beliefs in true propositions), they are not infallible: it is possible for beliefs that are formed by means of these practices to be incorrect (i.e., to be beliefs in false propositions). 3. The (...)
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  28. Scanlon on Double Effect. [REVIEW]Ralph Wedgwood - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (2):464-472.
    In this new book Moral Dimensions, T. M. Scanlon (2008) explores the ethical significance of the intentions and motives with which people act. According to Scanlon, these intentions and motives do not have any direct bearing on the permissibility of the act. Thus, Scanlon claims that the traditional Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) is mistaken. However, the way in which someone is motivated to act has a direct bearing on what Scanlon calls the act's "meaning". One particularly important kind of (...)
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  29. Akrasia and Uncertainty.Ralph Wedgwood - 2013 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 20 (4):483–505.
    According to John Broome, akrasia consists in a failure to intend to do something that one believes one ought to do, and such akrasia is necessarily irrational. In fact, however, failing to intend something that one believes one ought to do is only guaranteed to be irrational if one is certain of a maximally detailed proposition about what one ought to do; if one is uncertain about any part of the full story about what one ought to do, it could (...)
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  30. The Right Thing to Believe.Ralph Wedgwood - 2013 - In Timothy Chan (ed.), The Aim of Belief. Oxford University Press. pp. 123-139.
    Many philosophers have claimed that “belief aims at the truth”. But is there any interpretation of this claim on which it counts as true? According to some philosophers, the best interpretation of the claim takes it as the normative thesis that belief is subject to a truth-norm. The goal of this essay is to clarify this normative interpretation of the claim. First, the claim can be developed so that it applies to partial beliefs as well as to flat-out full beliefs. (...)
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  31. Review of Being Realistic About Reasons, by T. M. Scanlon. [REVIEW]Ralph Wedgwood - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (262):213-217.
    This is a review of T. M. Scanlon's book "Being Realistic about Reasons", which is based on the Locke Lectures that Scanlon gave in Oxford in 2009.
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  32. The Normativity of the Intentional.Ralph Wedgwood - 2009 - In Ansgar Beckermann & Brian P. McLaughlin (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press.
    Many philosophers have claimed that the intentional is normative. (This claim is the analogue, within the philosophy of mind, of the claim that is often made within the philosophy of language, that meaning is normative.) But what exactly does this claim mean? And what reason is there for believing it? In this paper, I shall first try to clarify the content of the claim that the intentional is normative. Then I shall examine a number of the arguments that philosophers have (...)
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  33. A Priori Bootstrapping.Ralph Wedgwood - 2013 - In Albert Casullo & Joshua Thurow (eds.), The A Priori In Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 226-246.
    This paper explores the problems that are raised by a certain traditional sceptical paradox. The conclusion will be that the most challenging problem raised by this paradox does not primarily concern the justification of beliefs; it concerns the justification of belief-forming practices. This conclusion is supported by showing that if we can solve the sceptical problem for belief-forming practices, then it will be a relatively straightforward matter to solve the problem that concerns the justification of beliefs.
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  34. The Fundamental Argument for Same-Sex Marriage.Ralph Wedgwood - 1999 - Journal of Political Philosophy 7 (3):225–242.
    This paper offers an argument in favour of the conclusion that it is seriously unjust to exclude same-sex couples from the institution of civil marriage. The argument is based on an interpretation of what the institution of marriage essentially is, and of its essential rationale; the crucial claim is that although marriage is a legal institution, it is also a social institution, involving a "social meaning" -- a body of common knowledge and expectations about marriage that is generally shared throughout (...)
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  35. Contextualism About Justified Belief.Ralph Wedgwood - 2008 - Philosophers' Imprint 8:1-20.
    This paper presents a new argument for a form of contextualism about ‘justified belief’, the argument being based on considerations concerning the nature of belief. It is then argued that this form of contextualism, although it is true, cannot help to answer the threat of scepticism. However, it can explain many other puzzling phenomena: it can give an account of the linguistic mechanisms that determine how the extension of ‘justified belief’ shifts with context; it can help to defuse some puzzles (...)
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  36. Sensing Values?Ralph Wedgwood - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (1):215-223.
    This is a reply to Mark Johnston's paper "The Authority of Affect", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2001).
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  37. Instrumental Rationality.Ralph Wedgwood - 2011 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 6:280-309.
    Is there any distinctive aspect of rationality that deserves the label of “instrumental rationality”? Recently, Joseph Raz (2005) has argued that instrumental rationality is a “myth”. In this essay, I shall give some qualified support to Raz’s position: as I shall argue, many philosophers have indeed been seduced by certain myths about instrumental rationality. Nonetheless, Raz’s conclusion is too strong. Instrumental rationality is not itself a myth: there really is a distinctive aspect of rationality that deserves the label of “instrumental (...)
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  38.  91
    The a Priori Rules of Rationality.Ralph Wedgwood - 1999 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (1):113-131.
    Both these ideas are intuitively plausible: rationality has an external aim, such as forming a true belief or good decision; and the rationality of a belief or decision is determined purely by facts about the thinker’s internal mental states. Unlike earlier conceptions, the conception of rationality presented here explains why these ideas are both true. Rational beliefs and decisions, it is argued, are those that are formed through the thinker’s following ‘rules of rationality’. Some rules count as rules of rationality (...)
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  39. Objective and Subjective 'Ought'.Ralph Wedgwood - 2016 - In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press. pp. 143-168.
    This essay offers an account of the truth conditions of sentences involving deontic modals like ‘ought’, designed to capture the difference between objective and subjective kinds of ‘ought’ This account resembles the classical semantics for deontic logic: according to this account, these truths conditions involve a function from the world of evaluation to a domain of worlds (equivalent to a so-called “modal base”), and an ordering of the worlds in such domains; this ordering of the worlds itself arises from two (...)
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  40.  42
    Two Grades of Non-Consequentialism.Ralph Wedgwood - 2016 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 10 (4):795-814.
    In this paper, I explore how to accommodate non-consequentialist constraints with a broadly value-based conception of reasons for action. It turns out that there are two grades of non-consequentialist constraints. The first grade involves attaching ethical importance to such distinctions as the doing/allowing distinction, and the distinction between intended and unintended consequences that is central to the Doctrine of Double Effect. However, at least within the value-based framework, this first grade is insufficient to explain rights, which ground weighty reasons against (...)
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  41. Must Rational Intentions Maximize Utility?Ralph Wedgwood - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (sup2):73-92.
    Suppose that it is rational to choose or intend a course of action if and only if the course of action maximizes some sort of expectation of some sort of value. What sort of value should this definition appeal to? According to an influential neo-Humean view, the answer is “Utility”, where utility is defined as a measure of subjective preference. According to a rival neo-Aristotelian view, the answer is “Choiceworthiness”, where choiceworthiness is an irreducibly normative notion of a course of (...)
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  42.  13
    Fifteen Sermons and Other Writings on Ethics by Joseph Butler. [REVIEW]Ralph Wedgwood - 2018 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 56 (3):563-564.
    As a young Anglican clergyman, Joseph Butler published the first edition of his Fifteen Sermons Preached at the Rolls Chapel in 1721; a revised edition appeared in 1729. Almost immediately, it was widely understood that these sermons present a strikingly subtle and careful form of a relatively traditional conception of ethics, in contrast to the more radical views of other philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes. Only a few years later, David Hume was much concerned to assimilate Butler's insights, while himself (...)
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  43. Schroeder on Expressivism: For – or Against? [REVIEW]Ralph Wedgwood - 2010 - Analysis 70 (1):117-129.
    This is a critical discussion of Mark Schroeder's book, "Being For: Evaluating the Semantic Program of Expressivism" (Oxford University Press, 2008).
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  44.  65
    Review of David Enoch, "Taking Morality Seriously: A Defense of Robust Realism". [REVIEW]Ralph Wedgwood - 2013 - Philosophical Quarterly 63 (251):389-393.
    This is a review of David Enoch's book "Taking Morality Seriously: A Defense of Robust Realism".
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  45.  4
    The Predicament of Choice.Ralph Wedgwood - 2017 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 12. Oxford University Press. pp. 294-313.
    Normal agents in the actual world are limited: they cannot think about all the options that are available to them—or even about all options that are available to them according to their evidence. Moreover, agents cannot choose an option unless they have thought about that option. Such agents can be irrational in two ways: either by making their choice too quickly, without canvassing enough options, or by wasting time canvassing ever more options when they have already thought of enough options. (...)
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  46. The Metaethicists' Mistake.Ralph Wedgwood - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):405–426.
    According to normative judgment internalism (NJI), normative judgments -- that is, judgments of the form 'I ought to F' and the like -- are "essentially practical", in the sense that they are in some way essentially connected to practical reasoning, or to motivation for action. Many metaethicists believe that if NJI is true, then it would cast grave doubts on any robustly realist (RR) conception of normative judgments. These metaethicists are mistaken. This mistake about the relations between NJI and RR (...)
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  47. The Weight of Moral Reasons.Ralph Wedgwood - 2013 - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics (Ed. Mark Timmons) 3:35-58.
    This paper starts by giving an interpretation of the notorious question "Why be moral?" Then, to answer that question, it develops an account of why some moral reasons -- specifically, the moral reasons that ground moral requirements -- are sufficiently weighty that they outweigh all countervailing reasons for action.
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  48. Practical Reason and Desire.Ralph Wedgwood - 2002 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (3):345 – 358.
    Many philosophres have attempted to argue from the "Humean Theory of Motivation" (HTM) and the "Internalism Requirement" (IR) to the "Humean Theory of Practical Reason" (HTPR). This argument is familiar, but it has rarely been stated with sufficient precision. In this paper, I shall give a precise statement of this argument. I shall then rely on this statement to show two things. First, the HTPR is false: it is incompatible with some extremely plausible assumptions about weakness of will or akrasia. (...)
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  49. Review: Kieran Setiya: Reasons Without Rationalism. [REVIEW]Ralph Wedgwood - 2008 - Mind 117 (468):1130-1135.
    This is a review of Kieran Setiya's book, "Reasons without Rationalism" (Princeton University Press, 2007).
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  50.  57
    The Price of Non-Reductive Physicalism.Ralph Wedgwood - 2000 - Noûs 34 (3):400-421.
    Nonreductive physicalism faces a serious objection: physicalism entails the existence of an enormous number of modal facts--specifically, facts about exactly which physical properties necessitate each mental property; and, it seems, if mental properties are irreducible, these modal facts cannot all be satisfactorily explained. The only answer to this objection is to claim that the explanations of these modal facts are themselves contingent. This claim requires rejecting "S5" as the appropriate logic for metaphysical modality. Finally, it is argued that rejecting "S5" (...)
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