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Arpaly, Nomy, , . Unprincipled Virtue: An Inquiry Into Moral Agency
2002, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Nomy Arpaly

Publisher’s Note: Nomy Arpaly rejects the model of rationality used by most ethicists and action theorists. Both observation and psychology indicate that people act rationally without deliberation, and act irrationally with deliberation. By questioning the notion that our own minds are comprehensible to us–and therefore questioning much of the current work of action theorists and ethicists–Arpaly attempts to develop a more realistic conception of moral agency.

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Fridland, Ellen, , . They’ve lost control: reflections on skill
2014, Synthese 191 (12):2729-2750.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper, I submit that it is the controlled part of skilled action, that is, that part of an action that accounts for the exact, nuanced ways in which a skilled performer modifies, adjusts and guides her performance for which an adequate, philosophical theory of skill must account. I will argue that neither Jason Stanley nor Hubert Dreyfus have an adequate account of control. Further, and perhaps surprisingly, I will argue that both Stanley and Dreyfus relinquish an account of control for precisely the same reason: each reduce control to a passive, mechanistic, automatic process, which then prevents them from producing a substantive account of how controlled processes can be characterized by seemingly intelligent features and integrated with personal-level states. I will end by introducing three different kinds of control, which are constitutive of skilled action: strategic control, selective, top-down, automatic attention, and motor control.

Comment: It would be suitable to teach this paper in a module on skill, especially if considering the relationship between skill and control. It would be most suitable in a senior year module.

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Olsaretti, Serena, , . The Concept of Voluntariness – A Reply
2008, Journal of Political Philosophy 16(1): 165-188.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Abstract: In his paper on ‘The Concept of Voluntariness’, Ben Colburn helpfully takes up the task of developing my view about the sense of voluntariness that is relevant for judgments of substantive responsibility, or judgments about individuals’ liability to pick up some costs of their choices. On my view, a necessary condition for holding people responsible for their choices is that those choices be voluntary in the sense that they are not made because there is no acceptable alternative, where the standard for the acceptability of options is an objective standard of well-being. […] Colburn’s first point is entirely well-taken. By way of endorsing it, I ask whether we are justified in taking some but not all kinds of beliefs to affect the voluntariness of choice, as his elaboration of my view suggests. However, I find Colburn’s second point less convincing, and argue that we should allow for the moral character of options to affect the voluntariness of choice.

Comment: Short debate article responding to some criticisms of Olsaretti’s account of voluntariness made by Ben Colburn and probably best read in conjunction with Colburn’s article. Does a good job of responding to the criticisms and explaining her account. Good further reading for teaching about voluntariness and autonomy.

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Steward, Helen, , . Processes, Continuants, and Individuals
2013, Mind 122 (487):fzt080
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Will Hornett

Abstract: The paper considers and opposes the view that processes are best thought of as continuants, to be differentiated from events mainly by way of the fact that the latter, but not the former, are entities with temporal parts. The motivation for the investigation, though, is not so much the defeat of what is, in any case, a rather implausible claim, as the vindication of some of the ideas and intuitions that the claim is made in order to defend — and the grounding of those ideas and intuitions in a more plausible metaphysics than is provided by the continuant view. It is argued that in addition to a distinction between events (conceived of as count-quantified) and processes (conceived of as mass-quantified) there is room and need for a third category, that of the individual process, which can be illuminatingly compared with the idea of a substance. Individual processes indeed share important metaphysical features with substantial continuants, but they do not lack temporal parts. Instead, it is argued that individual processes share with substantial continuants an important property I call ‘modal robustness in virtue of form’. The paper explains what this property is, and further suggests that the category of individual process, thus understood, might be of considerable value to the philosophy of action.

Comment: An important contribution to the debate on processes and events which should be central reading in a metaphysics course dealing with those issues. Steward argues against Stout’s view of processes, so this paper should be taught alongside his ‘Processes’ (1997). Steward also deals with methodological issues in metaphysics and involves a nice elucidation of Wiggins’s Conceptual Realism so can be taught as an example of that view. This paper could easily be taught in a senior year metaphysics course.

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Steward, Helen, , . The Ontology of Mind: Events, Processes, and States
2000, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: This book puts forward a radical critique of the foundations of contemporary philosophy of mind, arguing that it relies too heavily on insecure assumptions about the nature of some of the sorts of mental entities it postulates: the nature of events, processes, and states. The book offers an investigation of these three categories, clarifying the distinction between them, and argues specifically that the assumption that states can be treated as particular, event-like entities has been a huge and serious mistake. The book argues that the category of token state should be rejected, and develops an alternative way of understanding those varieties of causal explanation which have sometimes been thought to require an ontology of token states for their elucidation. The book contends that many current theories of mind are rendered unintelligible once it is seen how these explanations really work. A number of prominent features of contemporary philosophy of mind token identity theories, the functionalists conception of causal role, a common form of argument for eliminative materialism, and the structure of the debate about the efficacy of mental content are impugned by the book’s arguments. The book concludes that the modern mind-body problem needs to be substantially rethought.

Comment: The aim of this book is to argue that issues in metaphysics – in particular issues about the nature of states and causation – have a significant impact in philosophy of mind.The book has three parts and each part can be used for different purposes for courses on metaphysics or philosophy of mind. The first part constitutes an attack to three highly influential theories of events (the views of Jaegwon Kim, Jonathan Bennett and Lawrence Lombard) and a defence of the view that events are “proper particulars”. This part can be used as the main or secondary reading material in an upper-level course on metaphysics on topics of events. The second part defends the view that states are fundamentally different from events, which can be used for teaching on metaphysical theories of states or causal relation. The third part critically examines positions in philosophy of mind – in particular arguments for token-identity, epiphenomenalism, and eliminativism – need reconsideration. This part can be used as further reading materials on debates about those positions in philosophy of mind.

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Tollefsen, Sondra, , Bacharach, Deborah. We Did It: From Mere Contributors to Coauthors
2010, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68 (1):23-32.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: The diversity and increasing number of recent artistic collaborations raise new and substantive philosophical questions about the nature of authorship. In the past, the problems surrounding the authorship of collaboratively produced art were tackled primarily by film theorists, who defended the conservative view that films were on a par with other artworks, having a single author. Fortunately, this is starting to change. Recently, a number of theorists, including Berys Gaut, Paisley Livingston, and C. Paul Sellors, have argued, contra auteur theory, that films (and many other artworks) are the product of multiple authors.1 Livingston and Sellors draw on recent theories of collective intentionality, specifically theories of shared intention, in order to develop their theories of coauthorship. Although we agree entirely with this anti?individualistic movement, we think there are problems with the accounts of coauthorship on offer. Some of the accounts are too weak, failing to distinguish between mere contributors and genuine coauthors, while others rely on a theory of shared intention that does not adequately account for the range and complexity of artistic collaborations present in contemporary art. Fortunately, there is an alternative theory of collective intentionality that has yet to be considered as a point of departure in developing an account of coauthorship: Margaret Gilbert’s plural subject theory. We argue that her theory provides for an account of coauthorship that successfully distinguishes between mere contributors and coauthors. It also makes sense of a number of actual cases of collaboratively produced art in which intuitively the group, rather than any set of individuals, is the author. In Section I, we rehearse Gaut’s arguments against auteur theory and explain why Gaut’s account of multiple authorship is problematically overpermissive. In Section II, we consider Livingston and Sellors’s attempts to develop an account of coauthorship that relies on the theories of shared intentions by Michael Bratman and John Searle, respectively. Both accounts are ultimately problematic in different ways. In Section III, we turn to Margaret Gilbert’s plural subject theory. At the heart of Gilbert’s theory is the notion of a joint commitment. We develop a theory of coauthorship that appeals to the notion of a joint commitment, and then we show how it helps us to distinguish between mere contributors and genuine coauthors. We also present a number of actual cases of collaboratively produced art and show how Gilbert’s plural subject theory can accommodate these cases in a way that other accounts of coauthorship cannot.

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