University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Department of Philosophy
PhD
Hanover, New Hampshire, United States of America
  •  825
    A Guided Tour Of Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics
    In Herman Cappelen, David Plunkett & Alexis Burgess (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
  •  686
    In constructing semantic theories of normative and evaluative terms, philosophers have commonly deployed a certain type of disagreement -based argument. The premise of the argument observes the possibility of genuine disagreement between users of a certain normative or evaluative term, while the conclusion of the argument is that, however differently those speakers employ the term, they must mean the same thing by it. After all, if they did not, then they would not really disagree. We argue that…Read more
  •  571
    Conceptual Ethics I
    Philosophy Compass 8 (12): 1091-1101. 2013.
    Which concepts should we use to think and talk about the world and to do all of the other things that mental and linguistic representation facilitates? This is the guiding question of the field that we call ‘conceptual ethics’. Conceptual ethics is not often discussed as its own systematic branch of normative theory. A case can nevertheless be made that the field is already quite active, with contributions coming in from areas as diverse as fundamental metaphysics and social/political philosophy…Read more
  •  407
    Legal Positivism and the Moral Aim Thesis
    Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 33 (3): 563-605. 2013.
    According to Scott Shapiro’s Moral Aim Thesis, it is an essential feature of the law that it has a moral aim. In short, for Shapiro, this means that the law has the constitutive aim of providing morally good solutions to morally significant social problems in cases where other, less formal ways of guiding the activity of agents won’t work. In this article, I argue that legal positivists should reject the Moral Aim Thesis. In short, I argue that although there are versions of the Moral Aim Thesis…Read more
  •  324
    Non-Consequentialism Demystified
    with Howard Nye and John Ku
    Philosophers' Imprint 15. 2015.
    Morality seems important, in the sense that there are practical reasons — at least for most of us, most of the time — to be moral. A central theoretical motivation for consequentialism is that it appears clear that there are practical reasons to promote good outcomes, but mysterious why we should care about non-consequentialist moral considerations or how they could be genuine reasons to act. In this paper we argue that this theoretical motivation is mistaken, and that because many arguments for…Read more
  •  246
    Conceptual Ethics II
    Philosophy Compass 8 (12): 1102-1110. 2013.
    Which concepts should we use to think and talk about the world, and to do all of the other things that mental and linguistic representation facilitates? This is the guiding question of the field that we call ‘conceptual ethics’. Conceptual ethics is not often discussed as its own systematic branch of normative theory. A case can nevertheless be made that the field is already quite active, with contributions coming in from areas as diverse as fundamental metaphysics and social/political philosoph…Read more
  •  229
    Which Concepts Should We Use?: Metalinguistic Negotiations and The Methodology of Philosophy
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (7-8): 828-874. 2015.
    This paper is about philosophical disputes where the literal content of what speakers communicate concerns such object-level issues as ground, supervenience, or real definition. It is tempting to think that such disputes straightforwardly express disagreements about these topics. In contrast to this, I suggest that, in many such cases, the disagreement that is expressed is actually one about which concepts should be employed. I make this case as follows. First, I look at non-philosophical, every…Read more
  •  201
    The Nature and Explanatory Ambitions of Metaethics
    In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics, Routledge. pp. 1-28. 2017.
  •  160
    Expressivism, representation, and the nature of conceptual analysis
    Philosophical Studies 156 (1): 15-31. 2011.
    Philosophers often hold that the aim of conceptual analysis is to discover the representational content of a given concept such as freewill, belief, or law. In From Metaphysics to Ethics and other recent work, Frank Jackson has developed a theory of conceptual analysis that is one of the most advanced systematizations of this widespread idea. I argue that this influential way of characterizing conceptual analysis is too narrow. I argue that it is possible that an expressivist account could turn …Read more
  •  102
    In this paper, I argue that facts about the history or genealogy of concepts (facts about what I call “conceptual history”) can matter for normative inquiry. I argue that normative and evaluative issues about concepts (such as issues about which concepts an agent should use, in a given context) matter for all forms of inquiry (including normative inquiry) and that conceptual history can help us when we engage in thinking about these normative and evaluative issues (which I call issues in “concep…Read more
  •  95
    Metalinguistic negotiation and speaker error
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1-26. forthcoming.
    ABSTRACTIn recent work, we have argued that a number of disputes of interest to philosophers – including some disputes amongst philosophers themselves – are metalinguistic negotiations. Prima facie...
  •  78
    Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2020.
    Conceptual engineering and conceptual ethics are branches of philosophy concerned with questions about how to assess and ameliorate our representational devices (such as concepts and words). It's a part of philosophy concerned with questions about which concepts we should use (and why), how concepts can be improved, when concepts should be abandoned, and how proposals for amelioration can be implemented. Central parts of the history of philosophy have engaged with these issues, but the focus of …Read more
  •  66
    One of Ronald Dworkin's most distinctive claims in legal philosophy is that law is an interpretative concept, a special kind of concept whose correct application depends neither on fixed criteria nor on an instance-identifying decision procedure but rather on the normative or evaluative facts that best justify the total set of practices in which that concept is used. The main argument that Dworkin gives for interpretivism about some conceptis a disagreement-based argument. We argue here that Dwo…Read more
  •  56
    One of the central debates in legal philosophy is the debate over legal positivism. Roughly, positivists say that law is ultimately grounded in social facts alone, whereas antipositivists say it is ultimately grounded in both social facts and moral facts. In this paper, I argue that philosophers involved in the dispute over legal positivism sometimes employ distinct concepts when they use the term “law” and pick out different things in the world using these concepts. Because of this, what positi…Read more
  •  48
    The Planning Theory of Law I: The Nature of Legal Institutions1
    Philosophy Compass 8 (2): 149-158. 2013.
    This paper and its companion provide a general introduction to Scott Shapiro’s Planning Theory of Law as developed in his recent book Legality. The Planning Theory encompasses both an account of the nature of legal institutions and an account of the nature of legal norms. This first paper concerns the account of legal institutions. The second concerns the account of legal norms.
  •  39
    A Positivist Route for Explaining How Facts Make Law
    Legal Theory 18 (2): 139-207. 2012.
    In “How Facts Make Law” and other recent work, Mark Greenberg argues that legal positivists cannot develop a viable constitutive account of law that meets what he calls the “the rational-relation requirement.” He argues that this gives us reason to reject positivism in favor of antipositivism. In this paper, I argue that Greenberg is wrong: positivists can in fact develop a viable constitutive account of law that meets the rational-relation requirement. I make this argument in two stages. First,…Read more
  •  39
    The Planning Theory of Law II: The Nature of Legal Norms
    Philosophy Compass 8 (2): 159-169. 2013.
    This paper and its companion (‘‘The Planning Theory of Law I: The Nature of Legal Institutions’’) provide a general introduction to Scott Shapiro’s Planning Theory of Law as developed in his recent book Legality. The Planning Theory encompasses both an account of the nature of legal institutions and an account of the nature of legal norms. The first paper concerns the account of legal institutions. This paper concerns the account of legal norms.
  •  33
    In this article, we propose a novel account of general jurisprudence by situating it within the broader project of metanormative inquiry. We begin by showing how general jurisprudence is parallel to another well-known part of that project, namely, metaethics. We then argue that these projects all center on the same task: explaining how a certain part of thought, talk, and reality fits into reality overall. Metalegal inquiry aims to explain how legal thought, talk, and reality fit into reality. G…Read more
  •  31
    Conceptual Ethics and Conceptual Engineering (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
  •  25
    Reasons Internalism
    with Errol Lord
    In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics, Routledge. pp. 324-339. 2017.
  •  22
    One important trend in political philosophy is to hold that non-human animals don't directly place demands of justice on us. Another important trend is to give considerations of justice normative priority in our general normative theorising about social/political institutions. This situation is problematic, given the actual ethical standing of non-human animals. Either we need a theory of justice that gives facts about non-human animals a non-derivative explanatory role in the determination of f…Read more
  •  14
    Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2019.
    Conceptual engineering is a newly flourishing branch of philosophy which investigates problems with our concepts and considers how they might be ameliorated: 'truth', for instance, is susceptible to paradox, and it's not clear what 'race' stands for. This is the first collective exploration of possibilities and problems of conceptual engineering.
  •  12
    The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics (edited book)
    with Tristram McPherson and David Plunkett
    Routledge. 2017.
    This Handbook surveys the contemporary state of the burgeoning field of metaethics. Forty-four chapters, all written exclusively for this volume, provide expert introductions to: 1) the central research programs that frame metaethical discussions, 2) the central explanatory challenges, resources, and strategies that inform contemporary work in those research programs, an 3) debates over the status of metaethics, and the appropriate methods to use in metaethical inquiry. This is essential reading…Read more
  •  5
    Many of us care about the existence of ethical facts because they appear crucial to making sense of our practical lives. On one tempting line of thought, this idea can also play a central role in justifying our belief in those facts. David Enoch has developed this thought into a formidable new proposal in moral epistemology: that the deliberative indispensability of ethical facts gives us epistemic justification for believing in such facts. This chapter argues that Enoch’s proposal fails because…Read more
  •  4
    Legal Norms, Ethical Norms: New Essays on Meta-Ethics and Jurisprudence (edited book)
    with S. Shapiro and K. Toh
    Oxfprd University Press. forthcoming.
  • Philosophy and Climate Change (edited book)
    with Mark Budolfson and Tristram McPherson
    Oxford University Press. forthcoming.