• Mandatory Minimums and the War on Drugs
    In David Boonin, Katrina L. Sifferd, Tyler K. Fagan, Valerie Gray Hardcastle, Michael Huemer, Daniel Wodak, Derk Pereboom, Stephen J. Morse, Sarah Tyson, Mark Zelcer, Garrett VanPelt, Devin Casey, Philip E. Devine, David K. Chan, Maarten Boudry, Christopher Freiman, Hrishikesh Joshi, Shelley Wilcox, Jason Brennan, Eric Wiland, Ryan Muldoon, Mark Alfano, Philip Robichaud, Kevin Timpe, David Livingstone Smith, Francis J. Beckwith, Dan Hooley, Russell Blackford, John Corvino, Corey McCall, Dan Demetriou, Ajume Wingo, Michael Shermer, Ole Martin Moen, Aksel Braanen Sterri, Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, Jeppe von Platz, John Thrasher, Mary Hawkesworth, William MacAskill, Daniel Halliday, Janine O’Flynn, Yoaav Isaacs, Jason Iuliano, Claire Pickard, Arvin M. Gouw, Tina Rulli, Justin Caouette, Allen Habib, Brian D. Earp, Andrew Vierra, Subrena E. Smith, Danielle M. Wenner, Lisa Diependaele, Sigrid Sterckx, G. Owen Schaefer, Markus K. Labude, Harisan Unais Nasir, Udo Schuklenk, Benjamin Zolf & Woolwine (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy, Springer Verlag. pp. 51-62. 2018.
    Mandatory minimum sentencing provisions have been a feature of the US justice system since 1790. But they have expanded considerably under the war on drugs, and their use has expanded considerably under the Trump Administration; some states are also poised to expand drug-related mandatory minimums further in efforts to fight the current opioid epidemic. In this chapter I outline and evaluate three prominent arguments for and against the use of mandatory minimums in the war on drugs—they appeal, …Read more
  •  81
    Who's On First?
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 15. forthcoming.
    “X-Firsters” hold that there is some normative feature that is fundamental to all others (and, often, that there’s some normative feature that is the “mark of the normative”: all other normative properties have it, and are normative in virtue of having it). This view is taken as a starting point in the debate about which X is “on first.” Little has been said about whether or why we should be X-Firsters, or what we should think about normativity if we aren’t X-Firsters. Hence the chapter’s …Read more
  •  218
    How Much Gender is Too Much Gender?
    In Justin Khoo & Rachel Katharine Sterken (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Social and Political Philosophy of Language, Routledge. forthcoming.
    We live in a world saturated in both racial and gendered divisions. Our focus is on one place where attitudes about these divisions diverge: language. We suspect most everyone would be horrified at the idea of adding race-specific pronouns, honorifics, generic terms, and so on to English. And yet gender-specific terms of the same sort are widely accepted and endorsed. We think this asymmetry cannot withstand scrutiny. We provide three considerations against incorporating additional race-specific…Read more
  •  83
    Redundant Reasons
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (2): 266-278. 2019.
    It is commonly held that p is a reason for A to ϕ only if p explains why A ought to ϕ. I argue that this view must be rejected because there are reasons for A to ϕ that would be redundant in any ex...
  •  105
    An Objectivist’s Guide to Subjective Reasons
    Res Philosophica 96 (2): 229-244. 2019.
    The distinction between objective and subjective reasons plays an important role in both folk normative thought and many research programs in metaethics. But the relation between objective and subjective reasons is unclear. This paper explores problems related to the unity of objective and subjective reasons for actions and attitudes and then offers a novel objectivist account of subjective reasons.
  •  73
    Expressivism and Varieties of Normativity
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 12 265-293. 2017.
    The expressivist advances a view about how we explain the meaning of a fragment of language, such as claims about what we morally ought to do. Critics evaluate expressivism on those terms. This is a serious mistake. We don’t just use that fragment of language in isolation. We make claims about what we morally, legally, rationally, and prudentially ought to do. To account for this linguistic phenomenon, the expressivist owes us an account not just of each fragment of language, but of how they wea…Read more
  •  177
    The Expressive Case against Plurality Rule
    Journal of Political Philosophy 27 (3): 363-387. 2019.
    The U.S. election in November 2016 raised and amplified doubts about first-past-the-post (“plurality rule”) electoral systems. Arguments against plurality rule and for alternatives like preferential voting tend to be consequentialist: it is argued that systems like preferential voting produce different, better outcomes. After briefly noting why the consequentialist case against plurality rule is more complex and contentious than it first appears, I offer an expressive alternative: plurality rule…Read more
  •  105
    What If Well-Being Measurements Are Non-Linear?
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (1): 29-45. 2019.
    Well-being measurements are frequently used to support conclusions about a range of philosophically important issues. This is a problem, because we know too little about the intervals of the relevant scales. I argue that it is plausible that well-being measurements are non-linear, and that common beliefs that they are linear are not truth-tracking, so we are not justified in believing that well-being scales are linear. I then argue that this undermines common appeals to both hypothetical and act…Read more
  •  4839
    He/She/They/Ze
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5. 2018.
    In this paper, we defend two main claims. The first is a moderate claim: we have a negative duty to not use binary gender-specific pronouns he or she to refer to genderqueer individuals. We defend this with an argument by analogy. It was gravely wrong for Mark Latham to refer to Catherine McGregor, a transgender woman, using the pronoun he; we argue that such cases of misgendering are morally analogous to referring to Angel Haze, who identifies as genderqueer, as he or she. The second is a radi…Read more
  •  178
    Mandatory minimum sentencing provisions have been a feature of the U.S. justice system since 1790. But they have expanded considerably under the war on drugs, and their use has expanded considerably under the Trump Administration; some states are also poised to expand drug-related mandatory minimums further in efforts to fight the current opioid epidemic. In this paper I outline and evaluate three prominent arguments for and against the use of mandatory minimums in the war on drugs—they appeal, …Read more
  •  153
    Moral perception, inference, and intuition
    Philosophical Studies 176 (6): 1495-1512. 2019.
    Sarah McGrath argues that moral perception has an advantage over its rivals in its ability to explain ordinary moral knowledge. I disagree. After clarifying what the moral perceptualist is and is not committed to, I argue that rival views are both more numerous and more plausible than McGrath suggests: specifically, I argue that inferentialism can be defended against McGrath’s objections; if her arguments against inferentialism succeed, we should accept a different rival that she neglects, intui…Read more
  •  141
    Mere Formalities: Normative Fictions and Normative Authority
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 1-23. forthcoming.
    It is commonly said that some standards, such as morality, are ‘normatively authoritative’ in a way that other standards, such as etiquette, are not; standards like etiquette are said to be ‘not really normative’. Skeptics deny the very possibility of normative authority, and take claims like ‘etiquette is not really normative’ to be either empty or confused. I offer a different route to defeat skeptics about authority: instead of focusing on what makes standards like morality special, we should…Read more
  •  88
    What Does ‘Legal Obligation’ Mean?
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4): 790-816. 2018.
    What do normative terms like “obligation” mean in legal contexts? On one view, which H.L.A. Hart may have endorsed, “obligation” is ambiguous in moral and legal contexts. On another, which is dominant in jurisprudence, “obligation” has a distinctively moralized meaning in legal contexts. On a third view, which is often endorsed in philosophy of language, “obligation” has a generic meaning in moral and legal con- texts. After making the nature of and disagreements between these views precise, I s…Read more
  •  70
    Can Objectivists Account for Subjective Reasons?
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 12 (3): 259-279. 2017.
    I argue that existing objectivist accounts of subjective reasons face systematic problems with cases involving probability and possibility. I then offer a diagnosis of why objectivists face these problems, and recommend that objectivists seek to provide indirect analyses of subjective reasons.
  •  533
    The Mark of the Plural: Generic Generalizations and Race
    In Paul C. Taylor, Linda Martín Alcoff & Luvell Anderson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race, Routledge. pp. 277-289. 2017.
    We argue that generic generalizations about racial groups are pernicious in what they communicate (both to members of that racial group and to members of other racial groups), and may be central to the construction of social categories like racial groups. We then consider how we should change and challenge uses of generic generalizations about racial groups.
  •  128
    This paper explores the role of generics in social cognition. First, we explore the nature and effects of the most common form of generics about social kinds. Second, we discuss the nature and effects of a less common but equally important form of generics about social kinds. Finally, we consider the implications of this discussion for how we ought to use language about the social world
  •  207
    Why realists must reject normative quietism
    Philosophical Studies 174 (11): 2795-2817. 2017.
    The last two decades have seen a surge of support for normative quietism: most notably, from Dworkin, Nagel, Parfit and Scanlon. Detractors like Enoch and McPherson object that quietism is incompatible with realism about normativity. The resulting debate has stagnated somewhat. In this paper I explore and defend a more promising way of developing that objection: I’ll argue that if normative quietism is true, we can create reasons out of thin air, so normative realists must reject normative quiet…Read more