•  313
    Consequentialism's double-edged Sword
    Utilitas 22 (3): 258-271. 2010.
    Recent work on consequentialism has revealed it to be more flexible than previously thought. Consequentialists have shown how their theory can accommodate certain features with which it has long been considered incompatible, such as agent-centered constraints. This flexibility is usually thought to work in consequentialism’s favor. I want to cast doubt on this assumption. I begin by putting forward the strongest statement of consequentialism’s flexibility: the claim that, whatever set of intuiti…Read more
  •  260
    The status of moral status
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (1): 87-104. 2011.
    This paper investigates whether moral status talk gets us anywhere in our search for answers to questions in the ethics of marginal cases. I consider the usefulness of moral status talk first on the assumption that an individual's possession of moral status is not a further fact about that individual, and then on the assumption that it is. Finally, I offer an expressivistic interpretation of moral status talk. In each case, I argue that such talk conveys nothing that cannot be conveyed more clea…Read more
  •  180
    The limits of fair equality of opportunity
    Philosophical Studies 160 (2): 323-343. 2012.
    The principle of fair equality of opportunity is regularly used to justify social policies, both in the philosophical literature and in public discourse. However, too often commentators fail to make explicit just what they take the principle to say. A principle of fair equality of opportunity does not say anything at all until certain variables are filled in. I want to draw attention to two variables, timing and currency. I argue that once we identify the few plausible ways we have at our dispos…Read more
  •  163
    Why coercion is wrong when it’s wrong
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (1). 2013.
    It is usually thought that wrongful acts of threat-involving coercion are wrong because they involve a violation of the freedom or autonomy of the targets of those acts. I argue here that this cannot possibly be right, and that in fact the wrongness of wrongful coercion has nothing at all to do with the effect such actions have on their targets. This negative thesis is supported by pointing out that what we say about the ethics of threatening (and thus the ethics of coercion) constrains what we …Read more
  •  161
    Non-Consequentialist Theories of Animal Ethics
    Analysis 75 (4): 638-654. 2015.
    Postprint.
  •  160
    The liberty principle and universal health care
    Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 18 (2). 2008.
    A universal entitlement to health care can be grounded in the liberty principle. A detailed examination of Rawls's discussion of health care in Justice as Fairness shows that Rawls himself recognized that illness is a threat to the basic liberties, yet failed to recognize the implications of this fact for health resource allocation. The problem is that one cannot know how to allocate health care dollars until one knows which basic liberties one seeks to protect, and yet one cannot know which bas…Read more
  •  97
    III—Contractarianism as a Political Morality
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 116 (1): 49-67. 2016.
    Contractarianism initially made its mark, in the seventeenth century, as a sort of theory of everything in ethics. But gradually philosophers became convinced that there were resources available outside contractarianism for settling important moral questions—for instance, ideas of human rights and the moral equality of persons. Then Rawls revived contractarianism with a more modest aim—namely, as a theory of justice. But even this agenda for contractarianism has been called into question, most n…Read more
  •  77
    Going from principles to rules in research ethics
    Bioethics 25 (1): 9-20. 2010.
    In research ethics there is a canon regarding what ethical rules ought to be followed by investigators vis-à-vis their treatment of subjects and a canon regarding what fundamental ethical principles apply to the endeavor. What I aim to demonstrate here is that several of the rules find no support in the principles. This leaves anyone who would insist that we not abandon those rules in the difficult position of needing to establish that we are nevertheless justified in believing in the validity o…Read more
  •  55
    Extortion and the Ethics of “Topping Up”
    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 18 (4): 443-445. 2009.
    In November 2008 Professor Mike Richards issued his much awaited review of the British Department of Health's policy on out-of-pocket payments for drugs not approved as cost effective by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. The policy stated, or had been construed as stating, that those who top up thereby became ineligible for further National Health Service treatment for the condition targeted by the drug. For instance, if a lung cancer sufferer bought Avastin, which is no…Read more
  •  54
    Reasons Consequentialism
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (5): 671-682. 2013.
  •  52
    Morality, Adapted
    Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 53 (4): 624-629. 2010.
    Over the last few decades, scientists have been busy debunking the myth that nonhuman animals relate to each other in a primarily competitive, aggressive way. What they have found is that many species of animal, including many of those most closely related to humans, display a remarkable range of cooperative, "prosocial" behavior. In fact, it appears that some animal societies adhere to a moral code. What is preventing us, then, from saying that the members of these societies are moral beings? N…Read more
  •  51
    The idea that our economic institutions should be designed meritocratically is back as a hot topic in western academic circles. At the same time political meritocracy is once again a subject of philosophical discussion, with some Western philosophers embracing epistocracy and Confucianism being revived among Eastern philosophers. This survey has the ambition, first, of putting differing strands of this literature into dialogue with each other: the economic with the political, and the Western wit…Read more
  •  50
    The Exceptional Ethics of the Investigator-Subject Relationship
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35 (1): 64-80. 2010.
    This article concerns the validity of six canonical rules that institutional review boards use to constrain the behavior of investigators. These rules require investigators to design their studies in a scientifically valid way, not pay their subjects to take risks, minimize risks to their subjects, secure for their subjects access to effective interventions post-trial, not pay their subjects too much and allow their subjects to withdraw from the study unconditionally. Enforcement of these rules …Read more
  •  48
    Direct Moral Grounding and the Legal Model of Moral Normativity
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4): 703-716. 2015.
    Whereas most moral philosophers believe that the facts as to what we’re morally required to do are grounded by the facts about our moral reasons, which in turn are grounded by non-normative facts, I propose that moral requirements are directly grounded by non-normative facts. This isn’t, however, to say that there is no place in the picture for moral reasons. Moral reasons exist, and they’re grounded by moral requirements. Arguing for this picture of the moral sphere requires playing both offens…Read more
  •  47
    The Relevance of Distributive Justice to International Climate Change Policy
    Ethics, Policy and Environment 17 (2): 208-224. 2014.
    For the last 20 years, there has been lively debate about which principle of distributive and corrective justice should be used in dividing, among the various countries, the costs associated wit...
  •  43
    Norman Daniels's new book, Just Health, brings together his decades of work on the problem of justice and health. It improves on earlier writings by discussing how we can meet health needs fairly when we cannot meet them all and by attending to the implications of the socioeconomic determinants of health. In this article I return to the core idea around which the entire theory is built: that the principle of equality of opportunity grounds a societal obligation to meet health needs. I point, fir…Read more
  •  37
    Teleological Contractarianism
    Journal of Social Philosophy 50 (1): 91-112. 2019.
  •  35
    This Note will address the salience of a simple analogy: will privacy law be for the information age what consumer protection law was for the industrial age? At the height of industrialization, the United States market for consumer products faced instability caused by a lack of consumer competence, lack of disclosure about product defects, and advancements in technology that exacerbated the market's flaws. As this Note will show, these same causes of market failure are stirring in today's econom…Read more
  •  33
    Fair equality of opportunity, a principle that governs the competition for desirable jobs, can seem irrelevant in our actual world, for two reasons. First, parents have broad liberty to raise their children as they see fit, which seems to undermine the fair equality of opportunity–based commitment to eliminating the effects of social circumstances on that competition. Second, we already have a well-established principle for distributing jobs, namely meritocracy, thereby leaving no theater in whi…Read more
  •  33
    Humans, aliens, and the big ethical questions
    Astronomy and Geophysics 59 (3). 2018.
  •  31
    Recent Work on Meritocracy
    Analysis 83 (1): 171-185. 2023.
    The word ‘meritocracy’ was coined by Michael Young in 1958 in his book The Rise of the Meritocracy (Young [1958] 2017]), and philosophical discussions under tha.
  •  30
    Reasons and Requirements
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (1): 73-83. 2008.
    In this essay I defend the claim that all reasons can ground final requirements. I begin by establishing a prima facie case for the thesis by noting that on a common-sense understanding of what finality is, it must be the case that all reasons can ground such requirements. I spend the rest of the paper defending the thesis against two recent challenges. The first challenge is found in Joshua Gert’s recent book, Brute Rationality. In it he argues that reasons play two logically distinct roles – r…Read more
  •  29
    The Case for Evidence-Based Rulemaking in Human Subjects Research
    American Journal of Bioethics 10 (6): 3-13. 2010.
    Here I inquire into the status of the rules promulgated in the canonical pronouncements on human subjects research, such as the Declaration of Helsinki and the Belmont Report. The question is whether they are ethical rules or rules of policy. An ethical rule is supposed to accurately reflect the ethical fact (the fact that the action the rule prescribes is ethically obligatory), whereas rules of policy are implemented to achieve a goal. We should be skeptical, I argue, that the actions prescribe…Read more
  •  29
    Many of us have the intuition that we are duty-bound to conserve natural resources for the benefit of future generations. Yet there is a well-known difficulty in trying to identify the source of th...
  •  29
    Here I inquire into the status of the rules promulgated in the canonical pronouncements on human subjects research, such as the Declaration of Helsinki and the Belmont Report. The question is whether they are ethical rules or rules of policy. An ethical rule is supposed to accurately reflect the ethical fact, whereas rules of policy are implemented to achieve a goal. We should be skeptical, I argue, that the actions prescribed by the rules are ethically obligatory, and consequently we should foc…Read more
  •  23
    Alan Wertheimer argues that before we promulgate some rule regarding the conduct of research on human subjects we ethically ought to consider the consequences of the rule being followed. This ethical requirement has an exception, though, Wertheimer maintains: it doesn't apply to rules that are not motivated by considerations of outcome. I agree that there is an exception to be made to Wertheimer's proposed ethical requirement, but not Wertheimer's exception. The important distinction is not that…Read more
  •  23
    The Crime of Self‐Solicitation
    Ratio Juris 28 (2): 180-203. 2015.
    I hold that we could justifiably criminalize some threats, on account of the fact that issuing them renders one more likely to commit a crime. But I also point out that if we criminalize some threat-issuing, we will de facto criminalize some warning-issuing, which is unjust. So we ought not to criminalize any threat-issuing. Instead, we should criminalize rendering oneself more likely to commit a crime. This would allow us to punish all the threat-issuers we should want to punish. It would also …Read more
  •  20
    Direct Moral Grounding and the Legal Model of Moral Normativity
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4): 703-716. 2015.
    Whereas most moral philosophers believe that the facts as to what we’re morally required to do are grounded by the facts about our moral reasons, which in turn are grounded by non-normative facts, I propose that moral requirements are directly grounded by non-normative facts. This isn’t, however, to say that there is no place in the picture for moral reasons. Moral reasons exist, and they’re grounded by moral requirements. Arguing for this picture of the moral sphere requires playing both offens…Read more
  •  20
    The Timing of Research Consent
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (4): 1033-1046. 2021.
    This essay is about the timing of research consent, a process that involves participants being given information about, among other things, upcoming research interventions and then being invited to waive their claims against those interventions being undertaken. The standard practice, as regards timing, is as follows: participants are invited to waive all their claims at a single moment in time, and that point in time immediately follows the information-provision. I argue that there we’re not ju…Read more