Daniel Robert Fogal
Assistant Professor of Bioethics
Daniel Fogal is an Assistant Professor in the Program in Bioethics and Faculty Adviser for the Bioethics Minor. He earned his B.A. from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and his Ph.D. from NYU.
Fogal specializes in bioethics, metaethics, epistemology, and philosophy of language. Current and future work includes how best to understand the notion of rationality relevant to decision-making capacity and informed consent, the moral significance of irrational values and beliefs, the epistemological implications of the internet, and conceptual engineering in bioethics. Past research has included work on the nature of rationality (‘Rational Requirements and the Primacy of Pressure’, Mind), the nature of normative explanations (‘The Metaphysics of Moral Explanations’ Oxford Studies in Metaethics), and the nature of both normative and motivating reasons (‘Reasons, Reason, and Context’, in Weighing Reasons; ‘Deflationary Pluralism about Motivating Reasons’, in The Factive Turn in Epistemology). In addition to teaching and research, Fogal has been active in philosophical outreach programs and in organizing professional conferences and workshops.
Prior to his current appointment, Fogal was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the NYU Center for Bioethics, and prior to that he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Uppsala University in association with the Varieties of Normativity project (principal investigator: Matti Eklund).
Explaining normative reasonsFogal, D., & Risberg, O.
Journal titleNousAbstractIn this paper, we present and defend a natural yet novel analysis of normative reasons. According to what we call support-explanationism, for a fact to be a normative reason to φ is for it to explain why there's normative support for φ-ing. We critically consider the two main rival forms of explanationism—ought-explanationism, on which reasons explain facts about ought, and good-explanationism, on which reasons explain facts about goodness—as well as the popular Reasons-First view, which takes the notion of a normative reason to be normatively fundamental. Support-explanationism, we argue, enjoys many of the virtues of these views while avoiding their drawbacks. We conclude by exploring several further important implications: among other things, we argue that the influential metaphor of ‘weighing’ reasons is inapt, and propose a better one; that, contrary to what Berker (2019) suggests, there's no reason for non-naturalists about normativity to accept the Reasons-First view; and that, contrary to what Wodak (2020b) suggests, explanationist views can successfully accommodate what he calls ‘redundant reasons’.
Rational requirements and the primacy of pressureFogal, D.
Page(s)1033-1070AbstractThere are at least two threads in our thought and talk about rationality, both practical and theoretical. In one sense, to be rational is to respond correctly to the reasons one has. Call this substantive rationality. In another sense, to be rational is to be coherent, or to have the right structural relations hold between one’s attitudinal mental states, independently of whether those states are justified. Call this structural rationality. According to the standard view, structural rationality is associated with a distinctive set of requirements that mandate or prohibit certain combinations of attitudes, and it’s in virtue of violating these requirements that incoherent agents are irrational. I think the standard view is mistaken. The goal of this paper is to explain why, and to motivate an alternative account: rather than corresponding to a set of law-like requirements, structural rationality should be seen as corresponding to a distinctive kind of pro tanto rational pressure—that is, something that comes in degrees, having both magnitude and direction. Something similar is standardly assumed to be true of substantive rationality. On the resulting picture, each dimension of rational evaluation is associated with a distinct kind of rational pressure—substantive rationality with (what I call) justificatory pressure and structural rationality with attitudinal pressure. The former is generated by one’s reasons while the latter is generated by one’s attitudes. Requirements turn out to be at best a footnote in the theory of rationality.
Deflationary pluralism about motivating reasonsFogal, D. In The Factive Turn in Epistemology.
Page(s)193-218AbstractIntroduction Let’s begin with the seemingly obvious: We believe lots of things, and we believe things for reasons. What we believe often changes - we gain and lose beliefs over time - as do our reasons for believing - we revise and update our beliefs in response to new information. However, we don’t always believe for good reasons. Instead, we sometimes believe for bad reasons - reasons that are defective in some way, whether in kind, quality, quantity, or strength. But at least in general, when we believe for good reasons, we thereby put ourselves in a position to know. The world is mostly responsible for the rest. Although it’s hard to deny the appeal of such intuitive reflections, talk of reasons for believing and believing for reasons can be confusing. That’s because there are several distinct strains in such talk, and failing to be sensitive to their differences - as well as similarities and relationship to each other - can easily lead one astray. It can also make it easy to engage in verbal disputes, or construct arguments whose plausibility or significance is merely apparent. This chapter will be concerned with one such dispute: over the nature of so-called motivating reasons. Motivating reasons are standardly characterised as the reasons for which or on the basis of which we do things - where ‘doing things’ includes performing actions as well as forming (and sustaining) beliefs, intentions, and the like. Although special attention will be paid to cases involving belief, much of the chapter will be concerned with motivating reasons more generally. Motivating reasons are standardly distinguished from the reasons there are to do things, also known as ŉormative’ reasons. The class of motivating reasons is usually thought to be important because such reasons provide a distinctive kind of ‘rationalising’ explanation of our actions and attitudes, rendering them intelligible. They are also commonly thought to play an important role in determining whether an action or attitude is ‘properly based’ or ‘well-grounded’, and hence apt candidates for properties such as being creditworthy as well as being rational or justified.
New Work on speech actsFogal, D., Harris, D. W., & Moss, M.
Publication year2018AbstractThe essays collected in this book represent recent advances in our understanding of speech acts-actions like asserting, asking, and commanding that speakers perform when producing an utterance. The study of speech acts spans disciplines, and embraces both the theoretical and scientific concerns proper to linguistics and philosophy as well as the normative questions that speech acts raise for our politics, our societies, and our ethical lives generally. It is the goal of this book to reflect the diversity of current thinking on speech acts as well as to bring these conversations together, so that they may better inform one another. Topics explored in this book include the relationship between sentence grammar and speech act potential; the fate of traditional frameworks in speech act theory, such as the content-force distinction and the taxonomy of speech acts; and the ways in which speech act theory can illuminate the dynamics of hostile and harmful speech. The book takes stock of well over a half century of thinking about speech acts, bringing this classicwork in linewith recent developments in semantics and pragmatics, and pointing the way forward to further debate and research.
On the scope, jurisdiction, and application of rationality and the lawFogal, D.
Speech actsHarris, D. W., Fogal, D., & Moss, M. In New Work on Speech Acts: The contemporary theoretical landscape.
Page(s)1-39AbstractThis introduction is both a capsule history of major work in speech-act theory and an opinionated guide to its current state, organized around five major accounts of what speech acts fundamentally are. We first consider the two classical views, on which a speech act is the kind of act it is mainly due to convention (Austin), or to intention (Grice). We then spell out three other broad approaches, which conceive of speech acts primarily in terms of their function, or as the expression of mental states, or as constituted by norms. With these five families of views laid out, we relate them in turn to the apparatus of conversational score and discourse context; to the project of speech-act taxonomy; and to the theory of force. Last, we review applications of speech-act theory to matters legal and political, and to ethically significant phenomena like silencing, derogation, and coercion.
Contextualism about epistemic reasonsFogal, D., & Sylvan, K. In The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism.
Descartes and the possibility of enlightened freedomFogal, D.
Journal titleRes Philosophica
Page(s)499-534AbstractThis paper offers a novel interpretation of Descartes's conception of freedom that resolves an important tension at the heart of his view. It does so by appealing to the important but overlooked distinction between possessing a power, exercising a power, and being in a position to exercise a power.