•  226
    abstract Debate about physician‐assisted suicide has typically focused on the values of autonomy and patient wellbeing. This is understandable, even reasonable, given the import‐ance of these values in bioethics. However, these are not the only moral values there are. The purpose of this paper is to examine physician‐assisted suicide on the basis of the values of equality and justice. In particular, I will evaluate two arguments that invoke equality, one in favour of physician‐assisted suicide, …Read more
  •  220
    The familiar argument from disagreement has been an important focal point of discussion in contemporary meta-ethics. Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of interdisciplinary work between philosophers and psychologists about moral psychology. Working within this trend, John Doris and Alexandra Plakias have made a tentative version of the argument from disagreement on empirical grounds. Doris and Plakias present empirical evidence in support of premise 4, that ethics is beset by fund…Read more
  •  210
    Moral responsibility: The difference of Strawson, and the difference it should make
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (3): 239-264. 2005.
    P.F. Strawson’s work on moral responsibility is well-known. However, an important implication of the landmark “Freedom and Resentment” has gone unnoticed. Specifically, a natural development of Strawson’s position is that we should understand being morally responsible as having externalistically construed pragmatic criteria, not individualistically construed psychological ones. This runs counter to the contemporary ways of studying moral responsibility. I show the deficiencies of such contempora…Read more
  •  207
    Towards externalist psychopathology
    Philosophical Psychology 15 (3): 297-316. 2002.
    The "width" of the mind is an important topic in contemporary philosophical psychology. Support for active externalism derives from theoretical, engineering, and observational perspectives. Given the history of psychology, psychopathology is notable in its absence from the list of avenues of support for the idea that some cognitive processes extend beyond the physical bounds of the organism in question. The current project is to defend the possibility, plausibility, and desirability of externali…Read more
  •  153
    Advertising and deep autonomy
    Journal of Business Ethics 33 (1). 2001.
    Concerns about advertising take one of two forms. Some people are worried that advertising threatens autonomous choice. Others are worried not about autonomy but about the values spread by advertising as a powerful institution. I suggest that this bifurcation stems from misunderstanding autonomy. When one turns from autonomous choice to autonomy of persons, or what is often glossed as self-rule, then one has reason to think that advertising poses a moral problem of a sort so far unrecognized. I …Read more
  •  150
    Moral psychologists have recently turned their attention to a phenomenon they call 'moral dumbfounding'. Moral dumbfounding occurs when someone confidently pronounces a moral judgment, then finds that he or she has little or nothing to say in defense of it. This paper addresses recent attempts by Jonathan Haidt and Marc Hauser to make sense of moral dumbfounding in terms of their respective theories of moral judgment; Haidt in terms of a 'social intuitionist' model of moral judgment, and Hauser …Read more
  •  118
    Does Philosophy of Action Rest on a Mistake?
    Metaphilosophy 32 (5): 502-522. 2001.
    Philosophers of action tend to take for granted the concept of basic actions – actions that are done at will, or directly – as opposed to others that are performed in other ways. This concept does foundational work in action theory; many theorists, especially causalists, take part of their task to be showing that normal, complex actions necessarily stem from basic ones somehow. The case for the concept of basic actions is driven by a family of observations and a cluster of closely related anti-i…Read more
  •  93
    Feeling Utilitarian
    Utilitas 15 (3): 330. 2003.
    Michael Stocker and Bernard Williams are recent proponents of the influential objection against utilitarianism that it leads to important forms of alienation. The famous response is that such objections are mistaken. The objections picture agents being motivated by the principle of utility, but, e.g., Peter Railton argues we should see this principle as purely normative – agents can be motivated any way they like and still be ‘objective’ consequentialists. I argue that this type of position is i…Read more
  •  80
    The depths and shallows of psychological externalism
    Philosophical Studies 138 (3). 2008.
    This paper examines extant ways of classifying varieties of psychological externalism and argues that they imply a hitherto unrecognized distinction between shallow and deep externalism. The difference is between starting points: shallowly externalist hypotheses begin with the attribution of psychological states to individuals, just as individualistic hypotheses do, whereas deeply externalistic hypotheses begin with agent-environment interaction as the basis of cognitive processes and attribute …Read more
  •  77
    Internalists argue that there is a necessary connection between motivation and moral judgment. The examination of cases plays an important role in philosophical debate about internalism. This debate has focused on cases concerning the failure to act in accordance with a moral judgment, for one reason or another. I call these failure cases . I argue that a different sort of case is also relevant to this debate. This sort of case is characterized by (1) moral judgment and (2) behavior that accords…Read more
  •  74
    Thick Concepts and Holism about Reasons
    Journal of Value Inquiry 44 (4): 461-468. 2010.
    Thick moral concepts are a topic of particular disagreement in discussions of reasons holism. These concepts, such as justice, are called “thick” because they have both evaluative and descriptive aspects. Thin moral concepts, such as good, are purely evaluative. The disagreement concerns whether the fact that an action is, for example, just always a reason in favor of performing that action. The present argument follows Jonathan Dancy’s strategy of connecting moral reasons and concepts to those …Read more
  •  74
    Symbolic Value
    Journal of Value Inquiry 50 (2): 395-413. 2016.
    We are familiar with the idea of symbolic value in everyday contexts, and philosophers sometimes help themselves to it when discussing other topics. However, symbolic value itself has not been sufficiently studied. What is it for something to have symbolic value? How important is symbolic value? The present purpose is to shed some light on the nature and significance of symbolic value. Two kinds of symbolic value are distinguished, called the ‘symbolic mode of valuing’ and ‘symbolism as a ground…Read more
  •  68
    A New Kantian Response to Maxim-Fiddling
    Kantian Review 16 (1): 67-88. 2011.
    There has long been a suspicion that Kant's test for the universalizability of maxims can be easily subverted: instead of risking failing the test, design your maxim for any action whatsoever in a manner guaranteed to pass. This is the problem of maxim-fiddling. The present discussion of this problem has two theses: 1] That extant approaches to maxim-fiddling are not satisfactory;2] That a satisfactory response to maxim-fiddling can be articulated using Kantian resources, especially the first tw…Read more
  •  65
    Rawlsian Decisionmaking and Genetic Engineering
    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 15 (1): 35-41. 2006.
    This paper evaluates Sara Goering’s recent attempt to use the Rawlsian notion of the veil of ignorance as a tool for distinguishing permissible from impermissible forms of genetic engineering. I argue that her article fails due to a failure to include vital contextual information in the right way
  •  56
    The two most commonly discussed and implemented rationales for acquiring organs for transplantation give consent a central role. I argue that such centrality is a mistake. The reason is that practices of consent serve only to respect patients as autonomous beings. The primary issue in acquiring organs for transplantation, however, is how it is appropriate to treat a newly non-autonomous being. Once autonomy and consent are dislodged from their central position, considerations of utility and fair…Read more
  •  50
    Communitarian and Liberal Themes in Moral Agency and Education
    with Mark Young
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (1): 105-120. 2011.
    Philosophers and psychologists have been vigorously examining the psychological capacities that realize our moral agency. Our purpose is to take some of this work and present its implications for moral education. To connect recent work with more long-standing debates in moral education, we frame this discussion with Helen Haste’s 1996 examination of liberal and communitarian positions on moral agency and education. We argue that contemporary research does not confirm the descriptive theory of mo…Read more
  •  50
    Prichard, Strawson, and Two Objections to Moral Sensibility Theories
    Journal of Philosophical Research 29 289-314. 2004.
    Stephen Darwall, Allan Gibbard, and Peter Railton formulate two objections to moral sensibility theories in their overview of twentieth-century moral theory, “Toward Fin de siècle Ethics: Some Trends.” Instead of using the work of sensibility theorists John McDowell and David Wiggins to address these objections, I turn to H. A. Prichard and P. F. Strawson. The reason for doing so is that the objections misunderstand the importance of the idea of the autonomy of the moral domain. Prichard…Read more
  •  46
    Recipes for Moral Paradox
    American Philosophical Quarterly 49 (1): 43-54. 2012.
    Saul Smilansky notes that, despite the famous role of paradoxes in philosophy, very few moral paradoxes have been developed and assessed. The present paper offers recipes for generating moral paradoxes as a tool to aid in filling this gap. The concluding section presents reflections on how to assess the depth of the paradoxes generated with these recipes. Special attention is paid to links between putative moral paradoxes and debate about ethical particularism and generalism.
  •  45
    Two Views of Emotional Perception: Some Empirical Suggestions
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (5S): 161-183. 2006.
    Two models of modularity are presented in analysis of perceptual theories of emotion. Empirical tests for assessing whether either model is apt for emotion are suggested. The paper concludes by standing back and assessing the stakes of the issue.
  •  42
    Action: On Cause and Constitution
    Dialogue 43 (1): 157-. 2004.
    This is a response to Andrei Buckareff and Jing Zhu, who in "Causalisms Reconsidered" criticize my argument in, primarily, "Considering Causalisms" and, secondarily, in "Does Philosophy of Action Rest on a Mistake?".
  •  41
    Such thinkers as John Stuart Mill, Gerald Dworkin, and Richard Doerflinger have appealed to the value of freedom to explain both what is wrong with slavery and what is wrong with selling oneself into slavery. Practical ethicists, including Dworkin and Doerflinger, sometimes use selling oneself into slavery in analogies intended to illustrate justifiable forms of paternalism. I argue that these thinkers have misunderstood the moral problem with slavery. Instead of being a central value in itself,…Read more
  •  39
    Semanticity: Which way to turn?
    Philosophia 29 (1-4): 211-239. 2002.
    In "What Minds Can Do" (1997), Pierre Jacob argues for the cognitive turn in the philosophy of mind. He formulates this in contrast with the linguistic turn, which privileges linguistic semanticity over mental semanticity. Jacob argues that the order of privilege should be the other way around. I argue for a third option, which I call the ecological turn, which dissolves the bifurcation explored by Jacob.
  •  37
    Two views of emotional perception
    In Luc Faucher & Christine Tappolet (eds.), The Modularity of Emotions, University of Calgary Press. 2008.
    One stream in contemporary philosophical and psychological study of the emotions argues that they are perceptual capacities. The present project is to compare and contrast two possible models of emotional perception. The central difference between these models is the notion of modularity, and the corresponding overall view of the nature of the mind, that they use. One model uses classic, Fodorian modules, which S.L. Hurley characterizes as “vertical”. The other model uses “horizontal” modules. I…Read more
  •  34
    Locating Happiness
    Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 49 77-81. 2008.
    Philosophers have long studied the nature of happiness and, as a consequence, have made recommendations about how to achieve it. The present paper argues that perhaps this has been a mistake. Empirical studies of happiness have been yielding important results in recent years, the implication of which is that happiness is more complex than philosophers have suspected. The crucial point is this: although very abstract and very individual-specific things can be said about happiness, there is nothin…Read more
  •  28
    Questions open and closed: lessons from metaethics for identity arguments for the existence of god
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1-18. 2017.
    Identity arguments for the existence of god offer an intriguing blend of conceptual and existential claims. As it happens, this sort of blend has been probed for more than a century in metaethics, ever since G.E. Moore formulated the Open Question Argument against metaethical naturalism. Moore envisaged naturalism as offering identity claims between good and natural properties. His central worry was that such identity claims should render certain questions closed and hence meaningless. However, …Read more
  •  26
    Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism, written by Sarah Conly (review)
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 13 (5): 619-622. 2016.
  •  24
    Well‐Being Blindness
    Metaphilosophy 50 (1-2): 130-155. 2019.
    Why are we still studying well-being? After more than two thousand years of Western philosophy, why do we lack a settled account of the good life for humans? Philosophical problems in general are perennial, and the nature of human well-being is one such problem. However, we seem to stand in an epistemic relationship to this topic that is not shared by other ones. We have a vested interest in understanding the good life, and the relevant data seem to be accessible to us all. The challenge is to e…Read more
  •  24
    Alternative motivation and lies
    Analysis 81 (1): 46-52. 2021.
    An array of new cases of lies is presented in support of the idea that lying does not require an intention to be deceptive. The crucial feature of these cases is that the agents who lie have some sort of motivation to lie alternative to an intention to be deceptive. Such alternative motivation comes in multiple varieties, such that we should think that the possibility of lying without an intention to be deceptive is common.
  •  22
    Taking Empirically Minded Moral Philosophy Seriously
    Dialogue 40 (3): 603-612. 2001.
    Wayne Fenske has recently offered an a posteriori interpretation and defense of the following
  •  20
    Considering Causalisms
    Dialogue 40 (2): 343. 2001.
    Depuis 1963, le causalisme a été l'approche dominante en théorie de l'action. Il est possible, cependant, de distinguer diverses sortes de causalisme. La version dominante, que j'appelle CTA, essaie de trouver une analyse causale de l'action. Une version plus restreinte — le causalismeR — se montre récalcitrante à ce genre d'entreprise et se contente d'essayer d'expliquer en quel sens on peut traiter comme causales les explications par les raisons. J'examine ici les motivations sous-jacentes à C…Read more