•  262
    In virtue of what do we enjoy episodes of pleasure? According to the phenomenological theory of pleasure, we enjoy pleasures in virtue of having certain kinds of phenomenal experiences. According to the attitude theory of pleasure, we enjoy pleasures in virtue of having a certain kind of pro-attitude. In this chapter, we show that the attitude theory faces a dilemma. The attitude that is relevant to pleasure—the desire, liking, or favoring—is either necessarily co-instantiated with certain pheno…Read more
  •  325
    Pattern-Based Reasons and Disaster
    Utilitas 35 (2). 2023.
    Pattern-based reasons are reasons for action deriving not from the features of our own actions, but from the features of the larger patterns of action in which we might be participating. These reasons might relate to the patterns of action that will actually be carried out, or they might relate to merely hypothetical patterns. In past work, I have argued that accepting merely hypothetical pattern-based reasons, together with a plausible account of how to weigh these reasons, can lead to disastro…Read more
  •  324
    Too Easy, Too Good, Too Late?
    Philosophers' Imprint 23 (1). 2023.
    Plausibly, one important part of a good life is doing work that makes a contribution, or a positive difference to the world. In this paper, however, I explore contribution pessimism, the view that people will not always have adequate opportunities for making contributions. I distinguish between three interestingly different and at least initially plausible reasons why this view might be true: in slogan form, things might become too easy, they might become too good, or we might be too late. Now, …Read more
  •  354
    Making desires satisfied, making satisfied desires
    Philosophical Studies 180 (3): 979-999. 2023.
    In this paper, I explore a fundamental but under-appreciated distinction between two ways of understanding the desire-satisfaction theory of well-being. According to proactive desire satisfactionism, a person is benefited by the acquisition of new satisfied desires. According to reactive desire satisfactionism, a person can be benefited only by the satisfaction of their existing desires. I first offer an overview of this distinction. I then canvass several ways of developing a general formulatio…Read more
  •  338
    Collective Reasons and Agent-Relativity
    Utilitas 34 (1): 57-69. 2022.
    Could it be true that even though we as a group ought to do something, you as an individual ought not to do your part? And under what conditions, in particular, could this happen? In this article, I discuss how a certain kind of case, introduced by David Copp, illustrates the possibility that you ought not to do your part even when you would be playing a crucial causal role in the group action. This is because you may have special agent-relative reasons against participating that are not shared …Read more
  •  526
    Are My Temporal Parts Agents?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (2): 362-379. 2020.
    When we think about ethics, we normally focus on a particular sort of agent: the individual person. Some philosophers have argued that we should rethink the limits of what counts as an ethically relevant unit of agency by expanding outward, and claiming that groups of people can have normative reasons for action. In this paper, I explore whether we can go in the other direction. Are there sub‐personal beings who count as agents with their own reasons for action? In particular, might the temporal…Read more
  •  160
    What We Together Ought to Do
    Ethics 126 (4): 955-982. 2016.
    I argue that we have not only individual reasons for action but also collective reasons for action: reasons which apply to us as a group. I next argue that if we together have a reason to act, then I may have a reason to do my part, but only when others will do theirs. Finally, I argue that collective reasons to do good can never make a difference to what individuals ought to do, but that other kinds of collective reasons can.
  •  26
    Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 5, edited by Mark Timmons (review)
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (6): 784-786. 2018.
  •  275
    Effective Altruism and Collective Obligations
    Utilitas 31 (1): 106-115. 2019.
    Effective altruism (EA) is a movement devoted to the idea of doing good in the most effective way possible. EA has been the target of a number of critiques. In this article, I focus on one prominent critique: that EA fails to acknowledge the importance of institutional change. One version of this critique claims that EA relies on an overly individualistic approach to ethics. Defenders of EA have objected that this charge either fails to identify a problem with EA's core idea that each of us shou…Read more
  •  348
    How to Use the Paradox of Hedonism
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 18 (4): 387-411. 2021.
    The paradox of hedonism is the idea that intrinsically desiring nothing other than pleasure can prevent one from obtaining pleasure. In this article, I show how the paradox of hedonism can be used as the basis for an objection against hedonism about well-being, and one that is more defensible than has been commonly recognized. Moreover, I argue that the challenge presented by the paradox can be used to target not only hedonism about well-being, but also desire satisfactionism and the hybrid theo…Read more
  •  1550
    Explaining the Paradox of Hedonism
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (3): 497-510. 2019.
    The paradox of hedonism is the idea that making pleasure the only thing that we desire for its own sake can be self-defeating. Why would this be true? In this paper, I survey two prominent explanations, then develop a third possible explanation, inspired by Joseph Butler's classic discussion of the paradox. The existing accounts claim that the paradox arises because we are systematically incompetent at predicting what will make us happy, or because the greatest pleasures for human beings are fou…Read more