Thursday, February 26, 2009

Good news!

Last week JESP accepted a discussion note I sent them not too terribly long ago and this afternoon they sent me a proof to correct. That's fast! "On Treating Something as a Reason for Action" is a response to critics who have attacked Hawthorne and Stanley's Knowledge-Reasons Principle:

(KRP) When S’s choice is p-dependent, it is permissible for S to treat the proposition that p as a reason for acting if and only if S knows that p.

The critics I'm concerned with think that a justified belief that p is the case (or that p is known to be the case) should suffice for a permission to treat p as a reason for action. I argue that this cannot be right (unless everyone is badly mistaken about what it is to have a justified belief, in which case KRP isn't wrong for the reasons critics say it is). All the pieces I criticize are forthcoming and shouldn't be in print until after my discussion note goes public, which makes this my first preemptive discussion note. Cool.


John Turri said...


But are you sure it's best classified as a "preemptive" discussion note, rather than the more ominous "preventive" sort? I believe the former is legal under international law, but the latter is of dubious legality. You Texans ... ;)

Clayton said...

Good question. We Texans clearly believe in the difference between prevention and preemption, preferring preemptive attacks that prevent nothing at all. For examples of this, see Iraq and my paper which can't prevent the J-accounts from finding their way into the literature.

Bush's "think" tank is clearly having its effect on faculty.

Andrew Cullison said...


Also, it should be noted that it's awesome that you chose an open access journal.

Errol Lord said...

Congratulations! JESP is run so well it makes other journals look really bad. I wish I could publish exclusively in JESP.

[Also, I just wrote an argument into an old paper that argues against your position. Could you let me know when they post the official version?]

Clayton said...

Thanks Andy and Errol. Agreed, JESP is a model organization and I'd probably be saying that even if I hadn't received an acceptance.

Errol, let me know about this paper of yours. Which position of mine is coming under attack?

Errol Lord said...

I was thinking about it more, and the principles I argue for aren't by themselves strong enough to be anything you might disagree with. But I make some other assumptions (e.g. that there can be false justified beliefs) that you wouldn't like. Truth be told, I'm somewhat neutral about those extra assumptions. I only make them because they are necessary for an objection to my view to work. Anyway, here are the principles:

e-to-p: Necessarily, if p is a reason to believe q and q is a matter of practical importance for agent A, then p is a practical reason for A.

e-to-p transmit: Necessarily and for any A, q, and ϕ supported by q, if a set of epistemic reasons S makes it such that A is propositionally justified in believing q and it’s the case that [if q, then A has sufficient reasons to ϕ], then the set S´ constituted by all and only the members of S make it the case that A is justified in ϕ-ing.

I use these principles implicitly in the Phil. Studies paper. It was time to defend them.