•  562
    Moral fictionalism versus the rest
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (3). 2005.
    In this paper we introduce a distinct metaethical position, fictionalism about morality. We clarify and defend the position, showing that it is a way to save the 'moral phenomena' while agreeing that there is no genuine objective prescriptivity to be described by moral terms. In particular, we distinguish moral fictionalism from moral quasi-realism, and we show that fictionalism possesses the virtues of quasi-realism about morality, but avoids its vices.
  •  470
    Scorekeeping in a pornographic language game
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (3). 1999.
    If, as many suppose, pornography changes people, a question arises as to how.1 One answer to this question offers a grand and noble vision. Inspired by the idea that pornography is speech, and inspired by a certain liberal ideal about the point of speech in political life, some theorists say that pornography contributes to that liberal ideal: pornography, even at its most violent and misogynistic, and even at its most harmful, is political speech that aims to express certain views about the good…Read more
  •  458
    What is Free Speech?
    Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (4): 437-460. 2004.
    It is widely held that free speech is a distinctive and privileged social kind. But what is free speech? In particular, is there any unified phenomenon that is both free speech and which is worthy of the special value traditionally attached to free speech? We argue that a descendent of the classic Millian justification of free speech is in fact a justification of a more general social condition; and, via an argument that 'free speech' names whatever natural social kind is justified by the best a…Read more
  •  373
    The Free Speech Argument against Pornography
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 33 (3). 2003.
    It is widely held that free speech is a distinctive and privileged social kind. But what is free speech? In particular, is there any unified phenomenon that is both free speech and which is worthy of the special value traditionally attached to free speech? We argue that a descendent of the classic Millian justification of free speech is in fact a justification of a more general social condition; and, via an argument that 'free speech' names whatever natural social kind is justified by the best a…Read more
  •  274
    Liberalism and mental mediation
    Journal of Value Inquiry 38 (2): 186-202. 2004.
    Liberals agree that free speech should be protected, where speech is understood broadly to include all forms of intentional communication, including actions and pictures, not merely the spoken or written word. A surprising view about free speech in some liberal and legal circles is that communications should be protected on free-speech grounds only if the communications are mentally mediated. By “mentally mediated communication” we mean speech which communicates its message in such a way that th…Read more
  •  225
    Temporal phase pluralism
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (1). 2001.
    Some theories of personal identity allow some variation in what it takes for a person to survive from context to context; and sometimes this is determined by the desires of person-stages or the practices of communities.This leads to problems for decision making in contexts where what is chosen will affect personal identity.‘Temporal Phase Pluralism’ solves such problems by allowing that there can be a plurality of persons constituted by a sequence of person stages. This illuminates difficult dec…Read more
  •  178
    What would morality have to be like in order to answer to our everyday moral concepts? What are we committed to when we make moral claims such as “female infibulation is wrong”; or “we ought give money to famine relief”; or “we have a duty to not to harm others”, and when we go on to argue about these sorts of claims? It has seemed to many—and it seems plausible to us—that when we assert and argue about things such as these we presuppose at least the following.
  •  119
    This question lies at the heart of a debate that raises fundamental issues about just when, and on what grounds, the state is justified in using its coercive powers to limit the freedom of individuals.
  •  89
    It is a commonplace in liberal circles that individual persons have a right to individual autonomy or self-determination. Each mentally competent adult has a right to be at liberty to live and shape their own life in accordance with their own view about what makes for a good life, free from undue coercion or interference by others, so long as they do not harm others. In the words of John Stuart Mill, mentally-competent persons should have the liberty of “framing the plan of our life to suit our …Read more
  •  43
    The widely cited Nuffield Council on Bioethics ‘Intervention Ladder’ structurally embodies the assumption that personal autonomy is maximized by non-intervention. Consequently, the Intervention Ladder encourages an extreme ‘negative liberty’ view of autonomy. Yet there are several alternative accounts of autonomy that are both arguably superior as accounts of autonomy and better suited to the issues facing public health ethics. We propose to replace the one-sided ladder, which has any in…Read more