•  6
    The right not to know and the obligation to know
    Journal of Medical Ethics 46 (5): 300-303. 2020.
    There is significant controversy over whether patients have a ‘right not to know’ information relevant to their health. Some arguments for limiting such a right appeal to potential burdens on others that a patient’s avoidable ignorance might generate. This paper develops this argument by extending it to cases where refusal of relevant information may generate greater demands on a publicly funded healthcare system. In such cases, patients may have an ‘obligation to know’. However, we cannot infer…Read more
  •  1
    ‘The right not to know and the obligation to know’, response to commentaries
    Journal of Medical Ethics 46 (5): 309-310. 2020.
    I am grateful for these four incisive commentaries on my paper, ‘The right not to know and the obligation to know’ and regret that I cannot address every point made in these challenging responses to my work. Benjamin Berkman1 worries that I conflate medical information with medical action. I argue that patients sometimes have obligations to receive information, since medical decisions made with incomplete information may generate higher costs. As Berkman notes, though, information is no guarante…Read more
  •  7
    Responsibility and the limits of patient choice
    Bioethics 34 (5): 459-466. 2020.
    Bioethics, EarlyView.
  •  10
    Health(care) and the temporal subject
    Les Ateliers de l'Éthique / the Ethics Forum 13 (3): 38-64. 2018.
    Many assume that theories of distributive justice must obviously take people’s lifetimes, and only their lifetimes, as the relevant period across which we distribute. Although the question of the temporal subject has risen in prominence, it is still relatively underdeveloped, particularly in the sphere of health and healthcare. This paper defends a particular view, “momentary sufficientarianism,” as being an important element of healthcare justice. At the heart of the argument is a commitment to…Read more
  •  31
    Solidarity and Responsibility in Health Care
    with Julian Savulescu
    Public Health Ethics 12 (2): 133-144. 2019.
    Some healthcare systems are said to be grounded in solidarity because healthcare is funded as a form of mutual support. This article argues that health care systems that are grounded in solidarity have the right to penalise some users who are responsible for their poor health. This derives from the fact that solidary systems involve both rights and obligations and, in some cases, those who avoidably incur health burdens violate obligations of solidarity. Penalties warranted include direct patien…Read more
  •  1432
    Collected and edited by Noah Levin Table of Contents: UNIT ONE: INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY ETHICS: TECHNOLOGY, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, AND IMMIGRATION 1 The “Trolley Problem” and Self-Driving Cars: Your Car’s Moral Settings (Noah Levin) 2 What is Ethics and What Makes Something a Problem for Morality? (David Svolba) 3 Letter from the Birmingham City Jail (Martin Luther King, Jr) 4 A Defense of Affirmative Action (Noah Levin) 5 The Moral Issues of Immigration (B.M. Wooldridge) 6 The Ethics of our D…Read more
  •  96
    Bursting Bubbles? QALYs and Discrimination
    Utilitas 31 (2): 191-202. 2019.
    The use of Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) in healthcare allocation has been criticized as discriminatory against people with disabilities. This article considers a response to this criticism from Nick Beckstead and Toby Ord. They say that even if QALYs are discriminatory, attempting to avoid discrimination – when coupled with other central principles that an allocation system should favour – sometimes leads to irrationality in the form of cyclic preferences. I suggest that while Beckstead a…Read more
  •  539
    John Rawls' 'A Theory of Justice'
    1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. 2018.
    Some people are multi-billionaires; others die because they are too poor to afford food or medications. In many countries, people are denied rights to free speech, to participate in political life, or to pursue a career, because of their gender, religion, race or other factors, while their fellow citizens enjoy these rights. In many societies, what best predicts your future income, or whether you will attend college, is your parents’ income. To many, these facts seem unjust. Others disagree: eve…Read more
  •  53
    Enhancement and the Conservative Bias
    Philosophy and Technology 30 (3): 339-356. 2017.
    Nicholas Agar argues that we should avoid certain ‘radical’ enhancement technologies. One reason for this is that they will alienate us from current sources of value by altering our evaluative outlooks. We should avoid this, even if enhancing will provide us with novel, objectively better sources of value. After noting the parallel between Agar’s views and G. A. Cohen’s work on the ‘conservative bias’, I explore Agar’s suggestion in relation to two kinds of radical enhancement: cognitive and ant…Read more
  •  81
    Ageing and Terminal Illness: Problems for Rawlsian Justice
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 775-789. 2018.
    This article considers attempts to include the issues of ageing and ill health in a Rawlsian framework. It first considers Norman Daniels’ Prudential Lifespan Account, which reduces intergenerational questions to issues of intrapersonal prudence from behind a Rawslian veil of ignorance. This approach faces several problems of idealisation, including those raised by Hugh Lazenby, because it must assume that everyone will live to the same age, undermining its status as a prudential calculation. I …Read more
  •  50
    Fair Innings and Time-Relative Claims
    Bioethics 30 (6): 462-468. 2016.
    Greg Bognar has recently offered a prioritarian justification for ‘fair innings’ distributive principles that would ration access to healthcare on the basis of patients' age. In this article, I agree that Bognar's principle is among the strongest arguments for age-based rationing. However, I argue that this position is incomplete because of the possibility of ‘time-relative' egalitarian principles that could complement the kind of lifetime egalitarianism that Bognar adopts. After outlining Bogna…Read more
  •  115
    Publish or Perish
    Metaphilosophy 48 (5): 745-761. 2017.
    Funds and positions in philosophy should be awarded through systems that are reliable, objective, and efficient. One question usually taken to be relevant is how many publications people have in a group of well-respected journals. In the context of significant competition for jobs and funding, however, relying on quantity of publications creates a serious downside: the oft-lamented demand that we publish or perish. This article offers a systematic review of the problems involved in contemporary …Read more
  •  145
    Paternalism and evaluative shift
    Moral Philosophy and Politics 4 (2). 2017.
    Many people feel that respecting a person’s autonomy is not sufficiently important to obligate us to stay out of their affairs in all cases; but the ground for interference may often turn out to be a hunch that the agent cannot really be competent, or cannot really know what her decision implies; for if she were both of these things, surely she would not make such a foolish decision. This paper suggests a justification of paternalism that does not rely on such appeals. I argue that in cases wher…Read more
  •  1928
    Utilitarianism and animal cruelty: Further doubts
    De Ethica 3 (3): 5-19. 2016.
    Utilitarianism has an apparent pedigree when it comes to animal welfare. It supports the view that animal welfare matters just as much as human welfare. And many utilitarians support and oppose various practices in line with more mainstream concern over animal welfare, such as that we should not kill animals for food or other uses, and that we ought not to torture animals for fun. This relationship has come under tension from many directions. The aim of this article is to add further considerati…Read more
  •  119
    Dennis McKerlie: Justice Between the Young and the Old (review)
    Czech Sociological Review 51 (3): 562-565. 2015.