Normativity, Rationality and Reasoning: Selected Essays
Oxford University Press, 2021
This book is a selection of my recent papers on normativity, rationality and reasoning. It covers a variety of topics that fall under these three subjects: the meanings of ‘ought’, ‘reason’ and ‘reasons’; the fundamental structure of normativity and the metaphysical priority of ought over reasons; the ownership – or agent-relativity – of oughts and reasons; the distinction between rationality and normativity; the notion of rational motivation; what characterizes the human activity of reasoning, and what is the role of normativity within it; the nature of preferences and of reasoning with preferences; and others. In recent decades, many philosophers have given a high priority to reasons in their accounts of normativity, rationality and reasoning. One purpose of this book is to counter this ‘reasons first’ movement in philosophy.

A linking belief is not essential for reasoning
In Reasoning: New Essays on Theoretical and Practical Thinking, edited by Magdalena and Brendan Balcerak Jackson, Oxford University Press, 2019, pp. 32
Reprinted in my Normativity, Rationality and Reasoning: Selected Essays, Oxford University Press, 2021
In reasoning, you acquire a new conclusion attitude on the basis of premise attitudes. It is commonly thought that an essential feature of reasoning is that you have a linking belief, which is a belief that the premises imply the conclusion. This paper shows that a linking belief is not essential for reasoning. A genuinely essential feature of reasoning is that you acquire the conclusion attitude by following a rule. A linking belief may be a necessary feature of theoretical reasoning, because it may be a consequence of having the disposition to follow a rule. But it is not essential for reasoning, which is to say that it does not contribute to making the process reasoning. For other sorts of reasoning including practical reasoning, a linking belief is not even necessary.

Synchronic requirements and diachronic permissions
Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 45 (2015), pp. 630
Reasoning is an activity of ours by which we come to satisfy synchronic requirements of rationality. However, reasoning itself is regulated by diachronic permissions of rationality. For each synchronic requirement there appears to be a corresponding diachronic permission, but the requirements and permissions are not related to each other in a systematic way. It is therefore a puzzle how reasoning according to permissions can systematically bring us to satisfy requirements.
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Comments on Boghossian
Philosophical Studies, 169 (2014), pp. 19
A comment on Paul Boghossian's 'What is inference?'
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Normativity in reasoning
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 95 (2014), pp. 622-33

Reprinted in my Normativity, Rationality and Reasoning: Selected Essays, Oxford University Press, 2021
Reasoning is a process through which premise-attitudes give rise to a conclusion-attitude. When you reason actively you operate on the propositions that are the contents of your premise-attitudes, following a rule, to derive a new proposition that is the content of your conclusion-attitude. It may seem that, when you follow a rule, you must, at least implicitly, have the normative belief that you ought to comply with the rule, which guides you to comply. But I argue that to follow a rule is to manifest a particular sort of disposition, which can be interpreted as an intention. An intention is itself a guiding disposition. It can guide you to comply with a rule, and no normative belief is required.
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Practical reasoning and inference
In Thinking About Reasons: Essays in Honour of Jonathan Dancy, edited by David Bakhurst, Brad Hooker and Margaret Little, Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 286

Rationality Through Reasoning
Wiley-Blackwell, 2013
Rationality Through Reasoning answers the question of how people are motivated to do what they believe they ought to do, built on a comprehensive account of normativity, rationality and reasoning that differs significantly from much existing philosophical thinking. Develops an original account of normativity, rationality and reasoning significantly different from the majority of existing philosophical thought. Includes an account of theoretical and practical reasoning that explains how reasoning is something we ourselves do, rather than something that happens in us. Gives an account of what reasons are and argues that the connection between rationality and reasons is much less close than many philosophers have thought. Contains rigorous new accounts of oughts including owned oughts, agent-relative reasons, the logic of requirements, instrumental rationality, the role of normativity in reasoning, following a rule, the correctness of reasoning, the connections between intentions and beliefs, and much else. Offers a new answer to the ‘motivation question’ of how a normative belief motivates an action.
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Theoria, 75 (2009), pp. 79-99
Reprinted in my Normativity, Rationality and Reasoning: Selected Essays, Oxford University Press, 2021
I develop a scheme for the explanation of rational action. I start from a scheme that may be attributed to Thomas Nagel in The Possibility of Altruism, and develop it step by step to arrive at a sharper and more accurate scheme. The development includes a progressive refinement of the notion of motivation. I end by explaining the role of reasoning within the scheme.
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The unity of reasoning?
In Spheres of Reason, edited by Simon Robertson, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 62
Part translated with a commentary in Qu'est-ce que raisonner, by Jean-Marie Chevalier, Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, 2016, pp. 103-7