top of page


Here you can find links to some of my published work. 


According to a thesis famously associated with Anscombe's (1957) Intention, knowledge is a necessary condition of intentional action: when acting intentionally, we know what we are doing. Call this the Agential Knowledge thesis. The Agential Knowledge thesis remains, of course, controversial. Furthermore, as even some of its proponents acknowledge, it can appear puzzling: why should acting intentionally require knowing what you are doing? My aim in this paper is to propose an explanation and defence of the Agential Knowledge thesis, based on the idea that acting intentionally is exercising control, in a relevant sense. My argument rests on two things: first, articulating a modal conception of the relevant sense of control, and second, arguing that agential knowledge is distinctively practical (in a sense I explain). As I explain, the truth of the Agential Knowledge thesis opens promising paths for future work in the philosophy of action.

In this paper I argue that standard readings of Ryle's regress argument against the 'intellectualist legend' miss the deeper point of that argument. On a charitable reading of the argument, the question of whether knowledge-how does or does not have propositional content turns out to be something of a distraction; the real target of the argument is any view on which the intelligence of skilled actions is inherited from 'unwitnessable mental causes'. I end with a preliminary sketch of an alternative, which I plan to develop in my Knowledge in Action project.

This paper, which is part of my broader project on skill and knowledge in action, tackles some recent scepticism regarding whether agents, and especially skilled agents acting unreflectively, act rationally and/or knowingly. It does so in part by drawing on Anscombe, and in  part by introducing a special kind of 'action-demonstrative'.

Standard accounts of intentional action treat such actions as a composite of bodily movements, which are intrinsically mindless, and suitable mental states that "animate" them. This paper argues against such accounts, on the grounds that they are not capable of capturing the insrtrumental structure of actions,i.e., the way in which physical actions are built up out of "smaller" acts.

This is a paper I am not very sure about anymore. It seeks to rebut some recent skepticism over the normative status of the instrumental requirement. Inspired by Thompson's (2008) "naive action theory", it does so by arguing that actions, as end-directed processes, essentially possess instrumental structure.

Epistemology and Reasoning

Recent epistemology has seen a striking rise in interest in the notion of normality, including in the analysis of justified belief, defeasible reasoning, and knowledge. In the analysis of knowledge in particular, normality has been used to support modal analyses of knowledge, according to which knowledge is safely true belief. In this paper, I sound a note of caution regarding this proposal. As I will argue, the counterexamples that originally seemed to threaten the safety analysis of knowledge in its more traditional formulations have natural counterparts that continue to threaten the newer, normality-based formulations. Moreover, these reformulated counterexamples seem to exploit structural features of the notion of normality itself, rather than one or another particular conception of normality.

According to the Taking Condition, an agent’s response in a given set of circumstances does not count as an instance of reasoning unless the agent takes it that her circumstances warrant that response. While initially attractive to many, the Taking Condition has also faced a lot of criticism in the literature. This paper suggests a novel way of motivating the Taking Condition. More specifically, it argues that recognizing the pervasive defeasibility of human reasoning provides strong reasons to accept the Taking Condition.

Argues that recent discussions of reasoning and inference tend to conflate two phenomena that ought to be understood as distinct, and which I label respectively "reasoning" or "inference", on the one hand, and "deducing", on the other. With this distinction in hand, many of the puzzles in the theory of inference can be seen in a different light.

This paper is a close predecessor of my more recent 'Reasoning and Deducing' and 'In Defense of the Taking Condition'. It argues against rule-based theories of reasoning, on the grounds that they are incapable of accommodating the intuitive thought that reasoning must reflect the subject's take on her evidence. Sketches and defends an alternative, "semantic" conception of reasoning instead.

Defends the  claim that reasoning requires the subject's taking it that her conclusion follows from her premisses (what has come to be called the 'Taking Condition') against regress arguments. The key move, I claim, is to reject the idea that reasoning is causal process, in which some of a subject's existing doxastic states cause new such states.

This paper led to an exchange with Sinan Dogramaci in Mind. Here are the papers in that exchange:

Dogramaci, S. 2016. 'Reasoning Without Blinders: a reply to Valaris'

Valaris, M. 2016. 'Supposition and Blindness'.

Discusses the fact that inference patterns that seem to be all right in the context of deductive reasoning often prove disastrous in the context of ampliative reasoning (a fact noted by Sinan Dogramaci in 'Knowledge of Validity'). Rejects Dogramaci's own explanation of this fact, and provides an alternative.

Argues against the view that norms of reasoning are diachronic norms of rationality. Such a view must presuppose that reasoning is a process. This claim might, prima facie, seem very plausible. Howeverr, a careful reading of Lewis Carroll's story of Achilles and the Tortoise casts serious doubt on it.

Suggests a way to combine two approaches to self-knowledge that have seemed to diverge from each other: namely, an approach that emphasize cognitive phenomenology, and one that emphasizes "transparency".  These approaches need not be incompatible with each other, since the phenomenology of consciously judging that p may well involve simply being aware of the external facts (objects, properties, relations) p is about, rather than anything distinctively inner.

This is a response to Alex Byrne's 'Transparency, Belief, Intention' also published in PASS. Argues that the 'Doxastic Schema' (from 'p infer 'I believe that p') does not capture a genuine rule of inference (as Byrne would have it), because it cannot rationally be applied within suppositions.


In an intriguing footnote in the B-Edition Transcendental Deduction, Kant suggests that the activity of directed attention is a good illustration of his difficult notion of the 'synthesis' of the imagination. In this passage, we raw on Kant's discussion of attention in the Anthropology, in order to shed light on synthesis, and specifically the role of conceptual capacities in Kant's conception of experience.

Develops an account of Kant's views on inner sense and empirical self-knowledge (as opposed to pure apperception), a relatively neglected topic among commentators. Argues that while Kant has the resources to give an account of how we know ourselves as situated points of view in a spatiotemporal world, considering his views on inner sense exposes a deep ambivalence in his views about time, as the form of inner sense.               


Argues that time-travel, and specifically the 'paradox of self-visitation' poses no special problem for endurantism (or three-dimensionalism), contrary to what four-dimensionalists (such as Ted Sider) have thought.

bottom of page