“Agency and Practical Knowledge”
(forthcoming in Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Agency, email me for a copy)
This short entry gives an opinionated introduction to views about practical knowledge, and defends Anscombe's view against a few common objections.
"What Could a Two-Way Power Be?"
(Topoi, 2020, Vol 39 No 5, 1141-1153)
Alvarez (2013) and Steward (2012) think the power of agency is a two-way power; Lowe (2008, 2013) thinks the will is. There is a problem for two-way powers. Either there is a unified description of the manifestation-type of the power, or not. If so, two-way powers are really one-way powers. If not, two-way powers are really combinations of one-way powers. Either way, two-way powers cannot help distinguish free agents from everything else. I argue the problem is best avoided by an Aristotelian view, which posits a distinctive unity of explanation proper to two-way powers, grounded in a distinctive form of reasoning.
"A Metaphysics for Practical Knowledge"
(Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 2018, DOI: 10.1080/00455091.2018.1516972.)
Is Anscombean practical knowledge independent of what the agent actually does on an occasion? I argue that Anscombe's answer is subtly negative, and turns on the nature of mistakes in performance, and reveals a distinctive implicit metaphysics of mind and knowledge, structured by related capacities and exercises of capacities. If my interpretation is correct, then practical knowledge shares features with knowledge-how and knowledge-that, but deserves its own epistemic category.
"Basic Mistakes in Performance"
(Proceedings of the XIII World Congress of Philosophy 44, 2018, 17-21, DOI: 10.5840/wcp23201844895)
I argue that there are basic mistakes in performance, and if there are, then we must give up a key commitment common to much contemporary action theory. The commitment is that every particular imperfect expression of the will is grounded in some particular perfect expression of the will. Giving up this commitment has important metaphysical consequences for how we think of the will as a power of agency, and implies that causal deviance perhaps isn’t the main problem that causal theorists of action ought to worry about.
“The Antinomy of Basic Action” (email me for a preprint copy)
In Time and the Philosophy of Action, M. Sigrist and R. Altshuler (eds.), Routledge, 2016: 37-51.
I argue that it is neither the case that there must be basic actions whenever agents act intentionally, nor is it the case that there must not be. The reason is that within certain limits of intelligibility it is up to agents themselves how they carve up the instrumental structure of what they do intentionally.
Philosophical Review 123 (4), 2014: 429-484.
According to direction of fit theory, some mental states (e.g. belief and desire) relate mind and world in startlingly symmetrical ways. I argue against this idea, based on a slew of relevant asymmetries. This opens up the possibility of appreciating a different (Anscombean) approach to metaphysics of mind, made out in terms of fallible capacities and their perfect and imperfect exercises.
Inquiry 56 (6), 2013: 611-624.
Drawing on Aristotle, I argue, against Steward (2012), that the idea that agency is a “two-way power” is compatible with determinism (and indeterminism).
Philosophical Review 126 (3), 2017: 404-410.