•  94
    The experience requirement on well-being
    Philosophical Studies 178 (3): 867-886. 2021.
    According to the experience requirement on well-being, differences in subjects’ levels of welfare or well-being require differences in the phenomenology of their experiences. I explain why the two existing arguments for this requirement are not successful. Then, I introduce a more promising argument for it: that unless we accept the requirement, we cannot plausibly explain why only sentient beings are welfare subjects. I argue, however, that because the right kind of theory of well-being can pla…Read more
  •  95
    Future Desires, the Agony Argument, and Subjectivism about Reasons
    Philosophical Review 129 (1): 95-130. 2020.
    Extant discussions of subjectivism about reasons for action have concentrated on presentist versions of the theory, on which reasons for present actions are grounded in present desires. In this article, I motivate and investigate the prospects of futurist subjectivism, on which reasons for present actions are grounded in present or future desires. Futurist subjectivism promises to answer Parfit's Agony Argument, and it is motivated by natural extensions of some of the considerations that support…Read more
  •  140
    Attitudinal and Phenomenological Theories of Pleasure
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3): 510-524. 2020.
    On phenomenological theories of pleasure, what makes an experience a pleasure is the way it feels. On attitudinal theories, what makes an experience a pleasure is its relationship to the favorable attitudes of the subject who is having it. I advance the debate between these theories in two ways. First, I argue that the main objection to phenomenological theories, the heterogeneity problem, is not compelling. While others have argued for this before, I identify an especially serious version of th…Read more
  •  91
    Why Subjectivists About Welfare Needn't Idealize
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (1): 2-23. 2019.
    It is commonly thought that subjectivists about welfare must claim that the favorable attitudes whose satisfaction is relevant to your well-being are those that you would have in idealized conditions (e.g. ones in which you are fully informed and rational). I argue that this is false. I introduce a non-idealizing subjectivist view, Same World Subjectivism, that accommodates the two main rationales for idealizing: those given by Peter Railton and David Sobel. I also explain why a recent argument …Read more
  •  115
    Welfare Invariabilism
    Ethics 128 (2): 320-345. 2018.
    Invariabilism is the view that the same theory of welfare is true of every welfare subject. Variabilism is the view that invariabilism is false. In light of how many welfare subjects there are and how greatly they differ in their natures and capacities, it is natural to suppose that variabilism is true. I argue that these considerations do not support variabilism and, indeed, that we should accept invariabilism. This has important implications: it eliminates many of the going theories of welfare…Read more
  •  29
    Analysis. forthcoming.
    Enumeration and explanation in theories of welfare, Analysis, doi.org/10.1093/analys/anx035, published 13 April 2017
  •  35
    Asymmetrism about Desire Satisfactionism and Time
    In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, vol. 7, Oxford University Press. pp. 161-183. 2017.
    Desire-satisfaction theories of welfare must answer the timing question: when do you benefit from the satisfaction of one of your desires? There are three existing views about this: the Time of Desire view, on which you benefit at just those times when you have the desire; the Time of Object view, on which you benefit just when the object of your desire obtains; and Concurrentism, on which you benefit just when you have the desire and its object obtains. This paper introduces a new view, Asymmet…Read more
  •  115
    Enumeration and explanation in theories of welfare
    Analysis 77 (1): 65-73. 2017.
    It has become commonplace to distinguish enumerative theories of welfare, which tell us which things are good for us, from explanatory theories, which tell us why the things that are good for us have that status. It has also been claimed that while hedonism and objective list theories are enumerative but not explanatory, desire satisfactionism is explanatory but not enumerative. In this paper, I argue that this is mistaken. When properly understood, every major theory of welfare is both enumerat…Read more
  •  191
    The Subjective List Theory of Well-Being
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (1): 99-114. 2016.
    A subjective list theory of well-being is one that accepts both pluralism (the view that there is more than one basic good) and subjectivism (the view, roughly, that every basic good involves our favourable attitudes). Such theories have been neglected in discussions of welfare. I argue that this is a mistake. I introduce a subjective list theory called disjunctive desire satisfactionism, and I argue that it is superior to two prominent monistic subjectivist views: desire satisfactionism and sub…Read more
  •  109
    Monism and Pluralism
    In Guy Fletcher (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Well-Being, Routledge. pp. 331-41. 2016.
    I argue that the distinction between monism and pluralism about well-being should be understood in terms of explanation: the monist affirms (but the pluralist denies) that whenever two particular things are basically good for you, the explanation of their basic goodness for you is the same. I then consider a number of arguments for monism and a number of arguments for pluralism.
  •  246
    How to Use the Experience Machine
    Utilitas 28 (3): 314-332. 2016.
    The experience machine was traditionally thought to refute hedonism about welfare. In recent years, however, the tide has turned: many philosophers have argued not merely that the experience machine doesn't rule out hedonism, but that it doesn't count against it at all. I argue for a moderate position between those two extremes: although the experience machine doesn't decisively rule out hedonism, it provides us with some reason to reject it. I also argue for a particular way of using the experi…Read more
  •  115
    Prudence, Morality, and the Humean Theory of Reasons
    Philosophical Quarterly 65 (259): 220-240. 2015.
    Humeans about normative reasons claim that there is a reason for you to perform a given action if and only if this would promote the satisfaction of one of your desires. Their view has traditionally been thought to have the revisionary implication that an agent can sometimes lack any reason to do what morality or prudence requires. Recently, however, Mark Schroeder has denied this. If he is right, then the Humean theory accords better with common sense than it has been thought to. I argue that S…Read more
  •  207
    Pluralism about Well‐Being
    Philosophical Perspectives 28 (1): 127-154. 2014.
    Theories of well-being purport to identify the basic goods and bads whose presence in a person's life determines how well she is faring. Monism is the view that there is only one basic good and one basic bad. Pluralism is the view that there is either more than one basic good or more than one basic bad. In this paper, I give an argument for pluralism that is general in the sense that it does not purport to identify any basic goods or bads. If I am right, then even if you cannot name a single bas…Read more
  •  63
    Achievement by Gwen Bradford (review)
    Analysis 76 (3): 402-404. 2016.
  •  77
    Simple Probabilistic Promotion
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (2): 360-379. 2018.
    Many believe that normative reasons for action are necessarily connected with the promotion of certain states of affairs: on Humean views, for example, there is a reason for you to do something if and only if it would promote the object of one of your desires. But although promotion is widely invoked in discussions of reasons, its nature is a matter of controversy. I propose a simple account: to promote a state of affairs is to make it more likely to obtain than it previously was. I argue that t…Read more
  •  541
    Attraction, Description and the Desire-Satisfaction Theory of Welfare
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (1): 1-8. 2016.
    The desire-satisfaction theory of welfare says that what is basically good for a subject is the satisfaction of his desires. One challenge to this view is the existence of quirky desires, such as a desire to count blades of grass. It is hard to see why anyone would desire such things, and thus hard to believe that the satisfaction of such desires could be basically good for anyone. This suggests that only some desires are basically good when satisfied, and that desire satisfactionists owe us an …Read more
  •  225
    Against Welfare Subjectivism
    Noûs 51 (2): 354-377. 2017.
    Subjectivism about welfare is the view that something is basically good for you if and only if, and to the extent that, you have the right kind of favorable attitude toward it under the right conditions. I make a presumptive case for the falsity of subjectivism by arguing against nearly every extant version of the view. My arguments share a common theme: theories of welfare should be tested for what they imply about newborn infants. Even if a theory is intended to apply only to adults, the fact …Read more