•  86
    The little things
    The Philosophers' Magazine 26 20-21. 2004.
    This article argues that the supposedly small moral issues in everyday life are worthy of philosophical attention since they reveal much about character, values, and the complexity of moral judgements.
  •  74
    Teaching Mill's On Liberty
    Teaching Philosophy 20 (3): 301-310. 1997.
    Mill’s On Liberty is a seminal text in modern social/political philosophy, but there are several dimensions to this text that frequently confuse undergraduates. First, Mill’s uses of “utility” are not obviously consistent. Second, Mill offers varied formulations of his harm principle which are potentially conflicting. Third, lacking a greater context for the work, students sometimes mistake Mill’s goal for an attempt to draw a line between actions that should and should not be legal. This paper …Read more
  •  60
    Depths of the mundane
    with Robert Rowland Smith and Mark Vernon
    The Philosophers' Magazine 49 (49): 89-92. 2010.
    Why eschew luxury? The traditional arguments for frugality typically focus on what is good for the individual. Some see frugality as morally valuable because it tends to be associated with other virtues such as wisdom, honesty, or sincerity. Some find the natural, uncluttered, focused character of a simple lifestyle aesthetically appealing. The most common argument, though, is that simple living is the surest route – some even say the only route – to happiness
  •  53
    How not to accuse someone of prejudice
    Think 14 (41): 21-29. 2015.
    In discussions of racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice, two kinds of fallacious reasoning sometimes appear: the and the. The first fallacy treats someone's subjective response to a comment as sufficient evidence of prejudice or insensitivity. This fails to acknowledge that the reasonableness of the response is always an open question. The second fallacy involves dismissing what people accused of prejudice say in their defence on the grounds that the privileged always speak that way. This…Read more
  •  53
    This essay provides a number of interactive group activities that promote discussion of Descartes’ “Meditations” and “Discourse on Method”. The activities are suitable for small discussion groups and supply students with well defined tasks rather than general questions. The activities consider a numerous topics in Descartes work, including how to defend the idea that reason should be the supreme epistemic authority, how Descartes distinguishes between dreams and waking experience, Descartes argu…Read more
  •  53
    Does Surveillance Make Us Morally Better?
    Philosophy Now 79 6-9. 2010.
    The article examines how surveillance may on the one hand discourage us from doing wrong while at the same time making us less moral in another sense, since it encourages us to avoid wrongdoing purely out of self-interest.
  •  49
    The Ethics of Gossiping
    International Journal of Applied Philosophy 14 (1): 65-90. 2000.
    When is gossiping morally acceptable? In order to explore and develop a principled answer to this question, I pose the problem in a simplified, abstract form: What considerations govern what it is permissible for A to say to B about C? My approach involves first constructing a decision tree out of questions that apply general moral principles to any particular case. These principles filter out talk which, under normal circumstances, would be widely regarded as impermissible, such as breaches of …Read more
  •  48
    The Rights and Wrongs of Rudeness
    International Journal of Applied Philosophy 20 (1): 1-22. 2006.
    Rudeness is normally viewed as a moral failing, but there are times when it is excusable or even justified. In this article I propose a definition of the concept that helps us ascertain whether, why, and to what extent a rude action is blameworthy or excusable. I consider the most common sorts of circumstance in which rudeness is morally acceptable, and I argue that the perceived increase in rudeness is, in large part, a consequence of our living in a dynamic society where egalitarian attitudes …Read more
  •  48
    The joy of living Stoically
    The Philosophers' Magazine 58 119-120. 2012.
    Review of William Irvine's 'A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy'
  •  43
    Relativism
    Philosophy Now. 2001.
    An allegorical elucidation of cognitive relativism which compares our criteria for judging a belief rational or true to recipes for making bread.
  •  34
    Emrys Westacott explains one of the most famous and ubiquitous of all philosophical dilemmas
  •  29
    Cognitive relativism
    Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2006.
  •  28
    On the Motivations for Relativism
    Cogito 12 (3): 217-222. 1998.
    This article considers four reasons why a cognitive relativist might have for embracing relativism even while denying that as a theoretical position it is true in a non-relative sense.
  •  26
    Doing Philosophy
    Teaching Philosophy 33 (3): 340-343. 2010.
    Review of 'Doing Philosophy: A practical guide for students' by Claire Saunders et al.
  •  25
    The book contains chapters on rudeness, gossiping, snobbery, humour, and respect for beliefs.
  •  23
    Some objections to an objectivist conception of intrinsic value
    Southwest Philosophy Review 10 (1): 177-186. 1994.
  •  20
    Relativism and Autonomy1
    Philosophical Forum 27 (2). 1996.
  •  15
    Right on the money (review)
    The Philosophers' Magazine 65 125-126. 2014.
    Review of 'How much is enough?' by Robert and Edward Skidelsky
  •  14
    Moral Relativism
    In J. Feiser & B. Dowden (eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, . 2012.
  •  12
    Galahad vs Odysseus
    Philosophy Now 90 20-25. 2012.
    The article identifies two basic views of cheating and gamesmanship in sport: the Galahadian view which sees such practices as fundamentally dishonourable; and the Odyssean view which sees them as legitimate strategies for winning. There are pragmatic arguments on both sides, but on balance the Galahadian perspective is preferable in most sports. A similar conflict of outlooks occurs in fields beyond sport also: e.g. over whether someone holding a bad mortgage should keep paying or default.
  •  11
    The Placebo Effect
    Philosophy Now 55 50-54. 2006.
    A humorous short story about a company that tries marketing a placebo as a more expensive drug on the grounds that doing this will both maximize their profits and benefit the greatest number, since research shows the placebo to be highly effective if marketed as something else
  •  10
    The importance of being ironic (review)
    The Philosophers' Magazine 68 107-108. 2015.
  •  10
    Depths of the mundane
    with Robert Rowland Smith and Mark Vernon
    The Philosophers' Magazine 49 89-92. 2010.
    Why eschew luxury? The traditional arguments for frugality typically focus on what is good for the individual. Some see frugality as morally valuable because it tends to be associated with other virtues such as wisdom, honesty, or sincerity. Some find the natural, uncluttered, focused character of a simple lifestyle aesthetically appealing. The most common argument, though, is that simple living is the surest route – some even say the only route – to happiness.
  •  9
    Thinking Through Philosophy: An Introduction
    with Chris Horner
    Cambridge University Press. 2000.
    Chris Horner and Emrys Westacott present a clear and accessible introduction to some of the central problems of philosophy through challenging and stimulating the reader to think beyond the conventional answers to fundamental questions. No previous knowledge is assumed, and in lively and provocative chapters the authors invite the reader to explore questions about the nature of science, religion, ethics, politics, art, the mind, the self, knowledge and truth. Each chapter includes inset boxes pr…Read more
  •  7
    Relativism
    Philosophy Now 20 17-19. 1998.