•  37
    Excusing responsibility for the inevitable
    Philosophical Studies 111 (1). 2002.
    It is by now well established that the fact that an action or aconsequence was inevitable does not excuse the agent from responsibilityfor it, so long as the counterfactual intervention which ensures thatthe act will take place is not actualized. However, in this paper I demonstrate that there is one exception to this principle: when theagent is aware of the counterfactual intervener and the role she wouldplay in some alternative scenario, she might be excused, despite the fact that in the actua…Read more
  •  43
    Why Regret Language Death?
    Public Affairs Quarterly 15 (4). 2001.
  •  93
    Libet's impossible demand
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (12): 67-76. 2005.
    Abstract : Libet’s famous experiments, showing that apparently we become aware of our intention to act only after we have unconsciously formed it, have widely been taken to show that there is no such thing as free will. If we are not conscious of the formation of our intentions, many people think, we do not exercise the right kind of control over them. I argue that the claim this view presupposes, that only consciously initiated actions could be free, places a condition upon freedom of action wh…Read more
  •  129
    Culture by nature
    Philosophical Explorations 14 (3): 237-248. 2011.
    One of the major conflicts in the social sciences since the Second World War has concerned whether, and to what extent, human beings have a nature. One view, traditionally associated with the political left, has rejected the notion that we have a contentful nature, and hoped thereby to underwrite the possibility that we can shape social institutions by references only to norms of justice, rather than our innate dispositions. This view has been in rapid retreat over the past three decades, in the…Read more
  •  25
  •  163
    Enhancing Authenticity
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (3): 308-318. 2011.
    Some philosophers have criticized the use of psychopharmaceuticals on the grounds that even if these drugs enhance the person using them, they threaten their authenticity. Others have replied by pointing out that the conception of authenticity upon which this argument rests is contestable; on a rival conception, psychopharmaceuticals might be used to enhance our authenticity. Since, however, it is difficult to decide between these competing conceptions of authenticity, the debate seems to end in…Read more
  •  138
    What, and where, luck is: A response to Jennifer Lackey
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (3). 2009.
    In 'What Luck Is Not', Lackey presents counterexamples to the two most prominent accounts of luck: the absence of control account and the modal account. I offer an account of luck that conjoins absence of control to a modal condition. I then show that Lackey's counterexamples mislocate the luck: the agents in her cases are lucky, but the luck precedes the event upon which Lackey focuses, and that event is itself only fortunate, not lucky. Finally I offer an account of fortune. Fortune is luck-in…Read more
  •  128
    The apology paradox and the non-identity problem
    Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208): 358-368. 2002.
    Janna Thompson has outlined ‘the apology paradox’, which arises whenever people apologize for an action or event upon which their existence is causally dependent. She argues that a sincere apology seems to entail a wish that the action or event had not occurred, but that we cannot sincerely wish that events upon which our existence depends had not occurred. I argue that Thompson’s paradox is a backward-looking version of Parfit’s (forward-looking) ‘non-identity problem’, where backward- and forwa…Read more
  •  17
  •  110
    Bad Luck Once Again
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77 (3): 749-754. 2008.
    In a recent article in this journal, Storrs McCall and E.J. Lowe sketch an account of indeterminist free will designed to avoid the luck objection that has been wielded to such effect against event-causal libertarianism. They argue that if decision-making is an indeterministic process and not an event or series of events, the luck objection will fail. I argue that they are wrong: the luck objection is equally successful against their account as against existing event-causal libertarianisms. Like…Read more
  • Neuromarketing: Ethical and Political Challenges
    Etica E Politica 11 (2): 10-17. 2009.
    Ethicists and ordinary people are typically more worried by interventions that alter agents’ mind by directly altering their brains than interventions than are focused on the environment, and thereby indirectly change minds. I argue that the causal route to changing minds is not itself important. Moreover, some of the most powerful techniques whereby behavior is altered without the consent or knowledge of agents involve environmental manipulations: manipulations of social space, for the benefit …Read more
  •  261
    Doxastic Responsibility
    Synthese 155 (1): 127-155. 2007.
    Doxastic responsibility matters, morally and epistemologically. Morally, because many of our intuitive ascriptions of blame seem to track back to agents’ apparent responsibility for beliefs; epistemologically because some philosophers identify epistemic justification with deontological permissibility. But there is a powerful argument which seems to show that we are rarely or never responsible for our beliefs, because we cannot control them. I examine various possible responses to this argument, …Read more
  •  78
    The Value of Consciousness
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (1-2): 127-138. 2014.
    Consciousness, or its lack, is often invoked in debates in applied and normative ethics. Conscious beings are typically held to be significantly more morally valuable than non-consious, so that establishing whether a being is conscious becomes of critical importance. In this paper, I argue that the supposition that phenomenal consciousness explains the value of our experiences or our lives, and the moral value of beings who are conscious, is less well-grounded than is commonly thought. A great d…Read more
  • Stephen Cohen The Nature of Moral Reasoning (review)
    with Howard Harris
    Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 6 (1). 2004.
  •  284
    Implicit Bias and Moral Responsibility: Probing the Data
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3): 3-26. 2016.
  • A Gresham's Law For Reporting About Genetics
    Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 4 (2). 2002.
  •  22
    There May Be Costs to Failing to Enhance, as Well as to Enhancing
    American Journal of Bioethics 13 (7). 2013.
    No abstract
  •  417
    Resisting 'Weakness of the Will'
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1). 2011.
    I develop an account of weakness of the will that is driven by experimental evidence from cognitive and social psychology. I will argue that this account demonstrates that there is no such thing as weakness of the will: no psychological kind corresponds to it. Instead, weakness of the will ought to be understood as depletion of System II resources. Neither the explanatory purposes of psychology nor our practical purposes as agents are well-served by retaining the concept. I therefore suggest th…Read more
  •  26
    Hijacking Addiction
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 24 (1): 97-99. 2017.
    Neuroscientists and clinicians often speak of addictive drugs ‘hijacking’ the brain. Earp et al. want to do to the notion of addiction what drugs allegedly do to the brains of addicts; hijack it and put it to other purposes. There are, as they point out, clear commonalities between addiction and being in love. But there are also very important differences. These differences are significant enough to entail that it is at best highly misleading to describe love as an addiction. Hijacking addiction…Read more
  •  17
    Cognitive Enhancement and Intuitive Dualism Testing a Possible Link
    with Jonathan Mcguire
    In Robyn Langdon & Catriona Mackenzie (eds.), Emotions, Imagination, and Moral Reasoning, Psychology Press. pp. 171. 2012.
  • Terry Eagleton, The Idea of Culture (review)
    Philosophy in Review 22 28-30. 2002.
  •  214
    Rethinking neuroethics in the light of the extended mind thesis
    American Journal of Bioethics 7 (9): 3-11. 2007.
    The extended mind thesis is the claim that mental states extend beyond the skulls of the agents whose states they are. This seemingly obscure and bizarre claim has far-reaching implications for neuroethics, I argue. In the first half of this article, I sketch the extended mind thesis and defend it against criticisms. In the second half, I turn to its neuroethical implications. I argue that the extended mind thesis entails the falsity of the claim that interventions into the brain are especially …Read more
  •  153
    Foucault as Virtue Ethicist
    Foucault Studies 1 20-31. 2004.
    In his last two books and in the essays and interviews associated with them, Foucault develops a new mode of ethical thought he describes as an aesthetics of existence. I argue that this new ethics bears a striking resemblance to the virtue ethics that has become prominent in Anglo-American moral philosophy over the past three decades, in its classical sources, in its opposition to rule-based systems and its positive emphasis upon what Foucault called the care for the self. I suggest that seeing…Read more
  •  1994
    Consciousness and morality
    In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    It is well known that the nature of consciousness is elusive, and that attempts to understand it generate problems in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, psychology, and neuroscience. Less appreciated are the important – even if still elusive – connections between consciousness and issues in ethics. In this chapter we consider three such connections. First, we consider the relevance of consciousness for questions surrounding an entity’s moral status. Second, we consider the relevance of consciousne…Read more
  •  367
    Amputees by choice: Body integrity identity disorder and the ethics of amputation
    with Tim Bayne
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 22 (1). 2005.
    In 1997, a Scottish surgeon by the name of Robert Smith was approached by a man with an unusual request: he wanted his apparently healthy lower left leg amputated. Although details about the case are sketchy, the would-be amputee appears to have desired the amputation on the grounds that his left foot wasn’t part of him – it felt alien. After consultation with psychiatrists, Smith performed the amputation. Two and a half years later, the patient reported that his life had been transformed for th…Read more