•  40
    Autonomous Weapons Systems and the Moral Equality of Combatants
    Ethics and Information Technology 3 (6). 2020.
    To many, the idea of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) killing human beings is grotesque. Yet critics have had difficulty explaining why it should make a significant moral difference if a human combatant is killed by an AWS as opposed to being killed by a human combatant. The purpose of this paper is to explore the roots of various deontological concerns with AWS and to consider whether these concerns are distinct from any concerns that also apply to long- distance, human-guided weaponry. We sugg…Read more
  •  15
    Robots and Respect: A Response to Robert Sparrow
    Ethics and International Affairs 30 (3): 391-400. 2016.
    Robert Sparrow argues that several initially plausible arguments in favor of the deployment of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) in warfare fail, and that their deployment faces a serious moral objection: deploying AWS fails to express the respect for the casualties of war that morality requires. We critically discuss Sparrow’s argument from respect and respond on behalf of some objections he considers. Sparrow’s argument against AWS relies on the claim that they are distinct from accepted weapon…Read more
  •  18
    A quiet revolution in organ transplant ethics
    Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (11): 797-800. 2017.
    A quiet revolution is occurring in the field of transplantation. Traditionally, transplants have involved solid organs such as the kidney, heart and liver which are transplanted to prevent recipients from dying. Now transplants are being done of the face, hand, uterus, penis and larynx that aim at improving a recipient's quality of life. The shift away from saving lives to seeking to make them better requires a shift in the ethical thinking that has long formed the foundation of organ transplant…Read more
  •  146
    Harming as making worse off
    Philosophical Studies 176 (10): 2629-2656. 2019.
    A powerful argument against the counterfactual comparative account of harm is that it cannot distinguish harming from failing to benefit. In reply to this problem, I suggest a new account of harm. The account is a counterfactual comparative one, but it counts as harms only those events that make a person occupy his level of well-being at the world at which the event occurs. This account distinguishes harming from failing to benefit in a way that accommodates our intuitions about the standard pro…Read more
  •  154
    Meaning in the lives of humans and other animals
    Philosophical Studies 175 (2): 317-338. 2018.
    This paper argues that contemporary philosophical literature on meaning in life has important implications for the debate about our obligations to non-human animals. If animal lives can be meaningful, then practices including factory farming and animal research might be morally worse than ethicists have thought. We argue for two theses about meaning in life: that the best account of meaningful lives must take intentional action to be necessary for meaning—an individual’s life has meaning if and …Read more
  •  102
    Desire satisfaction, death, and time
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (6): 799-819. 2017.
    Desire satisfaction theories of well-being and deprivationism about the badness of death face similar problems: desire satisfaction theories have trouble locating the time when the satisfaction of a future or past-directed desire benefits a person; deprivationism has trouble locating a time when death is bad for a person. I argue that desire satisfaction theorists and deprivation theorists can address their respective timing problems by accepting fusionism, the view that some events benefit or h…Read more
  •  4
    with A. Walsh and S. Hormio
    Climate change is one of the most crucial problems facing the global community at the present time. Climate change will affect not only the well-being of future generations but the prospects of those who are currently alive. At the time of writing this introduction, news outlets across the world were reporting that global temperatures for February of this year showed an unprecedented upward spike.' According to NASA data, it was 1.35°C warmer than the average February during the baseline period …Read more
  •  20
    Climate change, justice and goodness (review)
    The Philosophers' Magazine 63 115-117. 2013.
  •  85
    A Dilemma for Moral Deliberation in AI in advance
    International Journal of Applied Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Many social trends are conspiring to drive the adoption of greater automation in society, and we will certainly see a greater offloading of human decisionmaking to robots in the future. Many of these decisions are morally salient, including decisions about how benefits and burdens are distributed. Roboticists and ethicists have begun to think carefully about the moral decision making apparatus for machines. Their concerns often center around the plausible claim that robots will lack many of the …Read more
  •  17
    Right Intention and the Ends of War
    Journal of Military Ethics 15 (1): 18-35. 2016.
    ABSTRACTThe jus ad bellum criterion of right intention is a central guiding principle of just war theory. It asserts that a country’s resort to war is just only if that country resorts to war for the right reasons. However, there is significant confusion, and little consensus, about how to specify the CRI. We seek to clear up this confusion by evaluating several distinct ways of understanding the criterion. On one understanding, a state’s resort to war is just only if it plans to adhere to the p…Read more
  •  121
    Accounting for the Harm of Death
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (1): 89-112. 2016.
    I defend a theory of the way in which death is a harm to the person who dies that fits into a larger, unified account of harm ; and includes an account of the time of death's harmfulness, one that avoids the implications that death is a timeless harm and that people have levels of welfare at times at which they do not exist.
  •  21
    The Ethical Underpinnings of Climate Economics (edited book)
    with Adrian Walsh and Säde Hormio
    Routledge. 2016.
    This book was born out of two interdisciplinary seminars held in 2014. The first one was the Climate Ethics and Climate Economics workshop in April adjoined as part of the European Consortium for Political Research Joint Sessions 2014 in Salamanca. Spurred on by the invigorating discussions, the participants decided to put together more workshops, with Ethical Underpinnings of Climate Economics following in Helsinki in November that same year. Without the organisers of these workshops the collab…Read more
  •  70
    The Precautionary Principle is frequently invoked as a guiding principle in environmental policy. In this article, I raise a couple of problems for the application of the Precautionary Principle when it comes to policies concerning Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). First, I argue that if we accept Stephen Gardiner’s sensible conditions under which it is appropriate to employ the Precautionary Principle for emerging technologies, it is unclear that GMOs meet those conditions. In particular, …Read more
  •  27
    A Dilemma for Moral Deliberation in AI
    International Journal of Applied Philosophy 30 (2): 313-335. 2016.
    Many social trends are conspiring to drive the adoption of greater automation in society, and we will certainly see a greater offloading of human decisionmaking to robots in the future. Many of these decisions are morally salient, including decisions about how benefits and burdens are distributed. Roboticists and ethicists have begun to think carefully about the moral decision making apparatus for machines. Their concerns often center around the plausible claim that robots will lack many of the …Read more
  •  51
    Still in Hot Water: Doing, Allowing, and Rachels’ Bathtub Cases
    Southwest Philosophy Review 27 (1): 129-137. 2011.
    The aim of this paper is to explain and defend a type of argument common in the doing/allowing literature called a “contrast argument.” I am concerned with defending a particular type of contrast argument that is intended to demonstrate the moral irrelevance of the doing/allowing distinction. This type of argument, referred to in this paper as an “irrelevance argument,” is exemplified by an argument offered by James Rachels (1975) that employs the Smith and Jones bathtub cases. My main contentio…Read more
  •  24
    Anthropocentric Indirect Arguments and Anthropocentric Moral Attitudes
    Ethics, Policy and Environment 17 (3): 267-270. 2014.
    Anthropocentric indirect arguments , which call for specific policies or actions because of human benefits that are correlated with but not caused by benefits to the environment, are gaining increasing traction with those who take a pragmatic approach to environmental protection. I contend that nonanthropocentrists might remain justifiably uneasy about AIAs because such arguments fail to challenge prevailing speciesist moral attitudes. I close by considering whether Elliott can address this conc…Read more
  •  17
    Human–Nonhuman Chimeras: Enhancement or Creation?
    American Journal of Bioethics 14 (2): 26-27. 2014.
    I respond to Monika Piotrowska's argument against anthropocentric theories of moral status that they yield disparate moral verdicts about parallel cases of embryonic stem cell transplantation. I argue that anthropocentric theories of moral status may not fall prey to this problem because embryonic stem cell transplantation may constitute creation rather than mere enhancement.
  •  27
    This paper introduces a novel approach to evaluating theories of the good. It proposes evaluating these theories on the basis of their compatibility with the most plausible ways of calculating overall intrinsic value of a world. The paper evaluates the plausibility of egalitarianism using this approach, arguing that egalitarianism runs afoul of the more plausible ways of calculating the overall intrinsic value of a world. Egalitarianism conflicts with the general motivation for totalism and crit…Read more
  •  28
    Torture and Incoherence: A Reply to Cyr
    The Journal of Ethics 19 (2): 213-218. 2015.
    John Martin Fischer and Anthony L. Brueckner have argued that a person’s death is, in many cases, bad for him, whereas a person’s prenatal non-existence is not bad for him. Their suggestion relies on the idea that death deprives the person of pleasant experiences that it is rational for him to care about, whereas prenatal non-existence only deprives him of pleasant experiences that it is not rational for him to care about. Jens Johansson has objected to this justification of ‘The Asymmetry’ betw…Read more
  •  254
    Autonomous Machines, Moral Judgment, and Acting for the Right Reasons
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4): 851-872. 2015.
    We propose that the prevalent moral aversion to AWS is supported by a pair of compelling objections. First, we argue that even a sophisticated robot is not the kind of thing that is capable of replicating human moral judgment. This conclusion follows if human moral judgment is not codifiable, i.e., it cannot be captured by a list of rules. Moral judgment requires either the ability to engage in wide reflective equilibrium, the ability to perceive certain facts as moral considerations, moral imag…Read more
  •  32
    Non-Identity for Non-Humans
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (5): 1165-1185. 2016.
    This article introduces a non-human version of the non-identity problem and suggests that such a variation exposes weaknesses in several proposed person-focused solutions to the classic version of the problem. It suggests first that person-affecting solutions fail when applied to non-human animals and, second, that many common moral arguments against climate change should be called into question. We argue that a more inclusive version of the person-affecting principle, which we call the ‘patient…Read more
  •  42
    A Counterexample to Two Accounts of Harm
    Southwest Philosophy Review 30 (1): 243-250. 2014.
    Two alternative accounts have emerged as viable competitors to the forerunning counterfactual comparative account in the recent debate concerning the nature of harm. These are the “non-comparative statebased account of harm ” defended by Elizabeth Harman, the “event-based account of harm ” defended by Matthew Hanser. I raise one simple but serious counterexample involving “non-regrettable disabilities” that applies to both of these alternative accounts but that is avoided by the counterfactual c…Read more
  •  74
    The Significance of Personal Identity for Death
    Bioethics 29 (9): 681-682. 2015.
    I respond to David Shoemaker's arguments for the conclusion that personal identity is irrelevant for death. I contend that we can accept Shoemaker's claim that loss of personal identity is not sufficient for death while nonetheless maintaining that there is an important theoretical relationship between death and personal identity. I argue that this relationship is also of practical importance for physicians' decisions about organ reallocation.