•  305
    Moral ignorance and blameworthiness
    Philosophical Studies 172 (11): 3037-3057. 2015.
    In this paper I discuss various hard cases that an account of moral ignorance should be able to deal with: ancient slave holders, Susan Wolf’s JoJo, psychopaths such as Robert Harris, and finally, moral outliers. All these agents are ignorant, but it is not at all clear that they are blameless on account of their ignorance. I argue that the discussion of this issue in recent literature has missed the complexities of these cases by focusing on the question of epistemic fault. It is not clear that…Read more
  •  216
    An argument against motivational internalism
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108 (1pt2): 135-156. 2008.
    I argue that motivational internalism should not be driving metaethics. I first show that many arguments for motivational internalism beg the question by resting on an illicit appeal to internalist assumptions about the nature of reasons. Then I make a distinction between weak internalism and the weakest form of internalism. Weak internalism allows that agents fail to act according to their normative judgments when they are practically irrational. I show that when we clarify the notion of practi…Read more
  •  204
    Consequentialism and the principle of indifference
    Utilitas 16 (3): 316-321. 2004.
    James Lenman argues that consequentialism fails as a moral theory because it is impossible to predict the long-term consequences of our actions. I agree that it is impossible to predict the long-term consequences of actions, but argue that this does not count as a strike against consequentialism. I focus on the principle of indifference, which tells us to treat unforeseeable consequences as cancelling each other out, and hence value-neutral. I argue that though we cannot defend this principle in…Read more
  •  150
    The nature of pleasure: A critique of Feldman
    Utilitas 19 (3): 379-387. 2007.
    In these remarks on Feldman's recent book, Pleasure and the Good Life, I concentrate on Feldman's account of pleasure as attitudinal. I argue that an account of pleasure according to which pleasure need not have any feel is implausible. I suggest that Feldman could avoid this problem but retain the advantages of his attitudinal hedonism by giving an account of the attitude such that the attitude has a feel
  •  146
    Consequentialism and the "Ought Implies Can" Principle
    American Philosophical Quarterly 40 (4): 319-331. 2003.
    It seems that the debate between objective and subjective consequentialists might be resolved by appealing to the ought implies can principle. Howard-Snyder has suggested that if one does not know how to do something, cannot do it, and thus one cannot have an obligation to do it. I argue that this depends on an overly rich conception of ability, and that we need to look beyond the ought implies can principle to answer the question. Once we do so, it appears that Prichard might have been at least…Read more
  •  117
    We Make No Promises
    Philosophical Studies 123 (1-2): 33-46. 2005.
    I discuss three views of promising: the view is that promising is a social practice, and that our obligation to keep promises is related to the practice in some way; Scanlon’s non-practice view, and Wallace and Kolodny’s “hybrid view”. I shall argue that none of these accounts is satisfactory, and propose a fourth view: deflationism. Deflationism is the view that saying “I promise” merely adds emphasis and does not incur any extra obligation.
  •  109
    Can an indirect consequentialist be a real friend?
    Ethics 108 (2): 386-393. 1998.
    Cocking and Oakley, ("Indirect Consequentialism, Friendship, and the Problem of Alienation", Ethics 106 (October 1995)) claim that a consequentialist's particular relationships will always be contingent on their maximizing the good, and thus will always be alienated. However, an indirect consequentialist will take into account the fact that her relationships would be alienated were she disposed to terminate them whenever they become suboptimal. If real friendships are worth having, a consequenti…Read more
  •  104
    Do consequentialists have one thought too many?
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2 (3): 243-261. 1999.
    In this paper I defend consequentialism against the objection that consequentialists are alienated from their personal relationships through having inappropriate motivational states. This objection is one interpretation of Williams' claim that consequentialists will have "one thought too many". Consequentialists should cultivate dispositions to act from their concern for others. I argue that having such a disposition is consistent with a belief in consequentialism and constitutes an appropriate …Read more
  •  92
    Value pluralism
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008.
    Overview of the main issues about value pluralism.
  •  89
    Against blameless wrongdoing
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (3): 287-303. 2002.
    I argue against the standard view that it is possible to describe extensionally different consequentialist theories by describing different evaluative focal points. I argue that for consequentialist purposes, the important sense of the word act must include all motives and side effects, and thus these things cannot be separated.
  •  86
    What is consequentialism?
    Think 8 (21): 19-28. 2009.
    Elinor Mason explains and contrasts consequentialist and duty-based theories of ethics
  •  83
    Moral responsibility
    Philosophical Books 46 (4): 343-353. 2005.
    In this account of recent work on moral responsibility I shall try to disen- tangle various different sorts of question about moral responsibility. In brief, the tangle includes questions about whether we have free will, questions about whether moral responsibility is compatible with free will, and questions about what moral responsibility involves. As far as possible I will ignore the first sort of question, be as brief as possible on the second sort of question, and focus on the third question…Read more
  •  82
  •  47
    Intricate Ethics
    Philosophical Review 117 (4): 621-623. 2008.
  •  36
    Objectivism and Prospectivism about Rightness
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 7 (2): 1-22. 2013.
    In this paper I present a new argument for prospectivism: the view that, for a consequentialist, rightness depends on what is prospectively best rather than what would actually be best. Prospective bestness depends on the agent’s epistemic position, though exactly how that works is not straightforward. I clarify various possible versions of prospectivism, which differ in how far they go in relativizing to the agent’s limitations. My argument for prospectivism is an argument for moderately object…Read more
  •  32
    Why read mill today? - By John Skorupski
    Philosophical Books 49 (2): 154-156. 2008.
  •  30
    Philosophy for Everyone: second edition
    with Matthew Chrisman, Duncan Pritchard, Guy Fletcher, Jane Suilin Lavelle, Michela Massimi, Alasdair Richmond, and Dave Ward
    Routledge. 2016.
    Philosophy for Everyone begins by explaining what philosophy is before exploring the questions and issues at the foundation of this important subject. Key topics in this new edition and their areas of focus include: Moral philosophy – the nature of our moral judgments and reactions, whether they aim at some objective moral truth, or are mere personal or cultural preferences; and the possibility of moral responsibility given the sorts of things that cause behavior; Political philosophy – fundamen…Read more
  •  26
    ‘Respecting Each Other and Taking Responsibility for our Biases’
    In Marina Oshana, Katrina Hutchison & Catriona Mackenzie (eds.), Social Dimensions of Moral Responsibility, Oup. forthcoming.
    In this paper I suggest that there is a way to make sense of blameworthiness for morally problematic actions even when there is no bad will behind such actions. I am particularly interested in cases where an agent acts in a biased way, and the explanation is socialization and false belief rather than bad will on the part of the agent. In such cases, I submit, we are pulled in two directions: on the one hand non-culpable ignorance is usually an excuse, but in the case of acting in a biased way we…Read more
  •  21
    Subjective rightness (or ‘ought’ or obligation) seems to be the sense of rightness that should be action guiding where more objective senses fail. However, there is an ambiguity between strong and weak senses of action guidance. No general account of subjective rightness can succeed in being action guiding in a strong sense by providing an immediately helpful instruction, because helpfulness always depends on the context. Subjective rightness is action guiding in a weaker sense, in that it is al…Read more
  •  21
    Making Morality Work, by SmithHolly. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018. Pp. 410.
  •  14
    VIII-An Argument Against Motivational Internalism
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108 (1part2): 135-156. 2008.
    In this paper I argue that I argue that motivational internalism should not be driving metaethics. I first show that many arguments for motivational internalism beg the question by resting on an illicit appeal to internalist assumptions about the nature of reasons. Then I make a distinction between weak internalism and the weakest form of internalism. Weak internalism allows that agents fail to act according to their normative judgments when they are practically irrational. I show that when we c…Read more
  •  11
    Coercion and Integrity
    In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics: Volume 2, Oxford University Press. 2012.
    Williams argues that impartial moral theories undermine agents’ integrity by making them responsible for allowings as well as doings. I argue that in some cases of allowings, where there is an intervening agent, the agent has been coerced, and so is not fully responsible. I provide an analysis of coercion. Whether an agent is coerced depends on various things (the coercer must provide strong reasons, and the coercer must have a mens rea), and crucially, the coercee’s action is rendered less th…Read more
  •  11
    Can an indirect consequentialist be a real friend?
    In Stephen Everson (ed.), Ethics, Cambridge University Press. pp. 108--2. 1998.
  •  9
    Morality, Rules, and Consequences: A Critical Reader (edited book)
    with Brad Hooker, Dale E. Miller, D. W. Haslett, Shelly Kagan, Sanford S. Levy, David Lyons, Phillip Montague, Tim Mulgan, Philip Pettit, Madison Powers, Jonathan Riley, William H. Shaw, Michael Smith, and Alan Thomas
    Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 2000.
    What determines whether an action is right or wrong? Morality, Rules, and Consequences: A Critical Reader explores for students and researchers the relationship between consequentialist theory and moral rules. Most of the chapters focus on rule consequentialism or on the distinction between act and rule versions of consequentialism. Contributors, among them the leading philosophers in the discipline, suggest ways of assessing whether rule consequentialism could be a satisfactory moral theory. Th…Read more