Options must be external

  • Justis KoonEmail author


Brian Hedden has proposed that any successful account of options for the subjective “ought” must satisfy two constraints: first, it must ensure that we are able to carry out each of the options available to us, and second, it should guarantee that the set of options available to us supervenes on our mental states. In this paper I show that, due to the ever-present possibility of Frankfurt-style cases, these two constraints jointly entail that no agent has any options at any time. This consequence, however, is clearly unacceptable, so one of Hedden’s constraints must go. Because the ability constraint is indispensable, I argue, we have no choice but to reject the supervenience constraint. Hedden’s underlying motivation for imposing the supervenience constraint is the conviction that our options should be transparent to us, but transparency also proves to be incompatible with the ability constraint, so it must be rejected as well. I conclude by sketching an unabashedly externalist account of options, which conceives of options as exhaustive combinations of atomic movements.


Options Subjective ought Internalism Externalism Decision theory 



I would like to thank Peter Graham, Sophie Horowitz, and Hilary Kornblith, along with several anonymous referees, for their helpful comments on previous drafts of this paper. Special thanks to Christopher Meacham for his guidance and feedback throughout the writing process.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.E305 South CollegeUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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