•  2903
    What Is Special About Human Rights?
    Ethics and International Affairs 25 (3): 369-83. 2011.
    Despite the prevalence of human rights discourse, the very idea or concept of a human right remains obscure. In particular, it is unclear what is supposed to be special or distinctive about human rights. In this paper, we consider two recent attempts to answer this challenge, James Griffin’s “personhood account” and Charles Beitz’s “practice-based account”, and argue that neither is entirely satisfactory. We then conclude with a suggestion for what a more adequate account might look like – what …Read more
  •  1575
    Responding to global poverty: Review essay of Peter Singer, the life you can save
    with Gerhard Øverland
    Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 6 (2): 239-247. 2009.
  •  1199
    On the concept of climate debt: its moral and political value
    Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 15 (5): 667-685. 2012.
    A range of developing countries and international advocacy organizations have argued that wealthy countries, as a result of their greater historical contribution to human-induced climate change, owe a ?climate debt? to poor countries. Critics of this argument have claimed that it is incoherent or morally objectionable. In this essay we clarify the concept of climate debt and assess its value for conceptualizing responsibilities associated with global climate change and for guiding international …Read more
  •  1189
    Benefiting from the Wrongdoing of Others
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 31 (2): 363-376. 2014.
    Bracket out the wrong of committing a wrong, or conspiring or colluding or conniving with others in their committing one. Suppose you have done none of those things, and you find yourself merely benefiting from a wrong committed wholly by someone else. What, if anything, is wrong with that? What, if any, duties follow from it? If straightforward restitution were possible — if you could just ‘give back’ what you received as a result of the wrongdoing to its rightful owner — then matters are moral…Read more
  •  1004
    Scepticism about Beneficiary Pays: A Critique
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 32 (4): 285-300. 2015.
    Some moral theorists argue that being an innocent beneficiary of significant harms inflicted by others may be sufficient to ground special duties to address the hardships suffered by the victims, at least when it is impossible to extract compensation from those who perpetrated the harm. This idea has been applied to climate change in the form of the beneficiary-pays principle. Other philosophers, however, are quite sceptical about beneficiary pays. Our aim in this article is to examine their cri…Read more
  •  842
    Egalitarian challenges to global egalitarianism: a critique
    Review of International Studies 35 485-512. 2009.
    Many political theorists defend the view that egalitarian justice should extend from the domestic to the global arena. Despite its intuitive appeal, this ‘global egalitarianism’ has come under attack from different quarters. In this article, we focus on one particular set of challenges to this view: those advanced by domestic egalitarians. We consider seven types of challenges, each pointing to a specific disanalogy between domestic and global arenas which is said to justify the restriction of e…Read more
  •  792
    Are trade subsidies and tariffs killing the global poor?
    with Gerhard Øverland
    Social Research: An International Quarterly (4): 865-896. 2012.
    In recent years it has often been claimed that policies such as subsidies paid to domestic producers by affluent countries and tariffs on goods produced by foreign producers in poorer countries violate important moral requirements because they do severe harm to poor people, even kill them. Such claims involve an empirical aspect—such policies are on balance very bad for the global poor—and a philosophical aspect—that the causal influence of these policies can fairly be characterized as doing sev…Read more
  •  758
    Young on Responsibility and Structural Injustice (review)
    Criminal Justice Ethics 32 (3): 247-257. 2013.
    Our aim in this essay is to critically examine Iris Young’s arguments in her important posthumously published book against what she calls the liability model for attributing responsibility, as well as the arguments that she marshals in support of what she calls the social connection model of political responsibility. We contend that her arguments against the liability model of conceiving responsibility are not convincing, and that her alternative to it is vulnerable to damaging objections.
  •  706
    Doing, Allowing, and Enabling Harm: An Empirical Investigation
    with Matthew Lindauer and Gerhard Øverland
    In Joshua Knobe, Tania Lombrozo & Shaun Nichols (eds.), Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume 1, Oxford University Press. 2014.
    Traditionally, moral philosophers have distinguished between doing and allowing harm, and have normally proceeded as if this bipartite distinction can exhaustively characterize all cases of human conduct involving harm. By contrast, cognitive scientists and psychologists studying causal judgment have investigated the concept ‘enable’ as distinct from the concept ‘cause’ and other causal terms. Empirical work on ‘enable’ and its employment has generally not focused on cases where human agents ena…Read more
  •  694
    World Trade Organization
    In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Wiley. 2013.
    The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a multilateral trade organization that, at least partially, governs trade relations between its member states. The WTO (2011a) proclaims that its “overriding objective is to help trade flow smoothly, freely, fairly and predictably.” The WTO is a “treaty-based” organization – it has been constituted through an agreed, legally binding treaty made up of more than 30 articles, along with additional commitments by some members in specific areas. At present, 153 s…Read more
  •  672
  •  664
    Individual responsibility for carbon emissions: Is there anything wrong with overdetermining harm?
    with Gerhard Øverland
    In Jeremy Moss (ed.), Climate Change and Justice, Cambridge University Press. 2015.
    Climate change and other harmful large-scale processes challenge our understandings of individual responsibility. People throughout the world suffer harms—severe shortfalls in health, civic status, or standard of living relative to the vital needs of human beings—as a result of physical processes to which many people appear to contribute. Climate change, polluted air and water, and the erosion of grasslands, for example, occur because a great many people emit carbon and pollutants, build excessi…Read more
  •  627
    The Moral Equality of Combatants
    In Seth Lazar & Helen Frowe (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of War, Oxford University Press. 2017.
    The doctrine of the moral equality of combatants holds that combatants on either side of a war have equal moral status, even if one side is fighting a just war while the other is not. This chapter examines arguments that have been offered for and against this doctrine, including the collectivist position famously articulated by Walzer and McMahan’s influential individualist critique. We also explore collectivist positions that have rejected the moral equality doctrine and arguments that some ind…Read more
  •  626
    A Challenge to the Reigning Theory of the Just War
    International Affairs 87 (2): 457-466. 2011.
    Troubled times often gives rise to great art that reflects those troubles. So too with political theory. The greatest work of twentieth century political theory, John Rawls's A theory of justice, was inspired in various respects by extreme social and economic inequality, racialized slavery and racial segregation in the United States. Arguably the most influential work of political theory since Rawls—Michael Walzer's Just and unjust wars—a sustained and historically informed reflection on the mor…Read more
  •  615
    Moral uncertainty and permissibility: Evaluating Option Sets
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (6): 1-26. 2016.
    In this essay, we explore an issue of moral uncertainty: what we are permitted to do when we are unsure about which moral principles are correct. We develop a novel approach to this issue that incorporates important insights from previous work on moral uncertainty, while avoiding some of the difficulties that beset existing alternative approaches. Our approach is based on evaluating and choosing between option sets rather than particular conduct options. We show how our approach is particularly …Read more
  •  536
    Responding to Global Poverty: Harm, Responsibility, and Agency
    with Gerhard Øverland
    Cambridge University Press. 2016.
    This book explores the nature of moral responsibilities of affluent individuals in the developed world, addressing global poverty and arguments that philosophers have offered for having these responsibilities. The first type of argument grounds responsibilities in the ability to avert serious suffering by taking on some cost. The second argument seeks to ground responsibilities in the fact that the affluent are contributing to such poverty. The authors criticise many of the claims advanced by th…Read more
  •  524
    The Implications of Failing to Assist
    with Gerhard Øverland
    Social Theory and Practice 40 (4): 570-590. 2014.
    In this essay we argue that an agent’s failure to assist someone in need at one time can change the cost she can be morally required to take on to assist that same person at a later time. In particular, we show that the cost the agent can subsequently be required to take on to help the person in need can increase quite significantly, and can be enforced through the proportionate use of force. We explore the implications of this argument for the duties of the affluent to address global poverty
  •  507
    Benefiting from Wrongdoing and Sustaining Wrongful Harm
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 13 (5): 530-552. 2016.
    Some moral theorists argue that innocent beneficiaries of wrongdoing may have special remedial duties to address the hardships suffered by the victims of the wrongdoing. These arguments generally aim to simply motivate the idea that being a beneficiary can provide an independent ground for charging agents with remedial duties to the victims of wrongdoing. Consequently, they have neglected contexts in which it is implausible to charge beneficiaries with remedial duties to the victims of wrongdoin…Read more
  •  473
    In Christian Barry & Holly Lawford-Smith (eds.), Global Justice, Ashgate. 2012.
    This volume brings together a range of influential essays by distinguished philosophers and political theorists on the issue of global justice. Global justice concerns the search for ethical norms that should govern interactions between people, states, corporations and other agents acting in the global arena, as well as the design of social institutions that link them together. The volume includes articles that engage with major theoretical questions such as the applicability of the ideals of so…Read more
  •  398
    Justifying Lockdown
    with Seth Lazar
    Ethics and International Affairs 2020. 2020.
    Our aim in this brief essay is not to defend a particular policy or attitude toward lockdown measures in the United States or elsewhere, but to consider the scope and limits of different types of arguments that can be offered for them. Understanding the complexity of these issues will, we hope, go some way to helping us understand each other and our attitudes toward state responses to the pandemic.
  •  397
    Why remittances to poor countries should not be taxed
    with Gerhard Øverland
    NYU Journal of International Law and Politics 42 (1): 1180-1207. 2010.
    Remittances are private financial transfers from migrant workers back to their countries of origin. These are typically intra-household transfers from members of a family who have emigrated to those who have remained behind. The scale of such transfers throughout the world is very large, reaching $338 billion U.S. in 20081—several times the size of overseas development assistance (ODA) and larger even than foreign direct investment (FDI). The data on migration and remittances is too poor to warr…Read more
  •  360
    How should we conceive of individual consumer responsibility to address labour injustices?
    with Kate Macdonald
    In Yossi Dahan, Hanna Lerner & Faina Milman-Sivan (eds.), Global Justice and International Labour Rights, Cambridge University Press. 2014.
    Many approaches to addressing labour injustices—shortfalls from minimally decent wages and working conditions— focus on how governments should orient themselves toward other states in which such phenomena take place, or to the firms that are involved with such practices. But of course the question of how to regard such labour practices must also be faced by individuals, and individual consumers of the goods that are produced through these practices in particular. Consumers have become increasing…Read more
  •  347
    While there need be no conflict in theory between addressing global inequality (inequalities between people worldwide) and addressing domestic inequality (inequalities between people within a political community), there may be instances in which the feasible mechanism for reducing global inequality risks aggravating domestic inequality. The burgeoning literature on global justice has tended to overlook this type of scenario, and theorists espousing global egalitarianism have consequently not eng…Read more
  •  319
    On the Rights of Temporary Migrants
    The Journal of Legal Studies 47 (S1). 2018.
    Temporary workers stand to gain from temporary migration programs, which can also benefit sender and recipient states. Some critics of temporary migration programs, however, argue that failing to extend citizenship rights or a secure pathway to permanent residency to such migrants places them in an unacceptable position of domination with respect to other members of society. We shall argue that access to permanent residency and citizenship rights should not be regarded as a condition for the mor…Read more
  •  285
    International Political Theory Meets International Public Policy
    In Chris Brown & Robyn Eckersley (eds.), Oxford Handbook of International Political Theory, Oxford University Press. pp. 480-494. 2018.
    How should International Political Theory (IPT) relate to public policy? Should theorists aspire for their work to be policy- relevant and, if so, in what sense? When can we legitimately criticize a theory for failing to be relevant to practice? To develop a response to these questions, I will consider two issues: (1) the extent to which international political theorists should be concerned that the norms they articulate are precise enough to entail clear practical advice under different empiric…Read more
  •  283
    Moral Uncertainty and the Criminal Law
    In Kimberly Ferzan & Larry Alexander (eds.), Handbook of Applied Ethics and the Criminal Law, Palgrave. 2019.
    In this paper we introduce the nascent literature on Moral Uncertainty Theory and explore its application to the criminal law. Moral Uncertainty Theory seeks to address the question of what we ought to do when we are uncertain about what to do because we are torn between rival moral theories. For instance, we may have some credence in one theory that tells us to do A but also in another that tells us to do B. We examine how we might decide whether or not to criminalize some conduct when we are u…Read more