•  156
    The natural right of property
    Social Philosophy and Policy 27 (1): 53-78. 2010.
    The two main theses of are: (i) that persons possess an original, non-acquired right not to be precluded from making extra-personal material their own (or from exercising discretionary control over what they have made their own); and (ii) that this right can and does take the form of a right that others abide by the rules of a (justifiable) practice of property which facilitates persons making extra-personal material their own (and exercising discretionary control over what they have made their …Read more
  •  148
    Self-ownership, marxism, and egalitarianism: Part I: Challenges to historical entitlement
    Politics, Philosophy and Economics 1 (1): 75-108. 2002.
    This two-part article offers a defense of a libertarian doctrine that centers on two propositions. The first is the self-ownership thesis according to which each individual possesses original moral rights over her own body, faculties, talents, and energies. The second is the anti-egalitarian conclusion that, through the exercise of these rights of self-ownership, individuals may readily become entitled to substantially unequal extra-personal holdings. The self-ownership thesis remains in the bac…Read more
  •  140
    Self-ownership, marxism, and egalitarianism: Part II: Challenges to the self-ownership thesis
    Politics, Philosophy and Economics 1 (2): 237-276. 2002.
    Part I of this essay supports the anti-egalitarian conclusion that individuals may readily become entitled to substantially unequal extra-personal holdings by criticizing end-state and pattern theories of distributive justice and defending the historical entitlement doctrine of justice in holdings. Part II of this essay focuses on a second route to the anti-egalitarian conclusion. This route combines the self-ownership thesis with a contention that is especially advanced by G.A. Cohen. This is t…Read more
  •  125
    Defining Textual Entailment
    with Daniel Z. Korman, Jacob Jett, and Allen H. Renear
    Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. forthcoming.
    Textual entailment is a relationship that obtains between fragments of text when one fragment in some sense implies the other fragment. The automation of textual entailment recognition supports a wide variety of text-based tasks, including information retrieval, information extraction, question answering, text summarization, and machine translation. Much ingenuity has been devoted to developing algorithms for identifying textual entailments, but relatively little to saying what textual entailmen…Read more
  •  81
    Non-absolute rights and libertarian taxation
    Social Philosophy and Policy 23 (2): 109-141. 2006.
    Rights-oriented libertarian theory asserts the existence of robust individual rights - including robust rights of property. If these property rights are absolute, then it seems that all taxation is theft. However, it also seems that, if an individual is (faultlessly) in dire straits, it is permissible for him to seize or trespass in order to escape from those straits. It does seem that in this sense property rights are non-absolute. This essay examines what contribution this non-absoluteness of …Read more
  •  80
    In defense of individualism
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2 (2): 87-115. 1999.
    This paper offers a programmatic philosophical articulation of moral and political individualism. This individualism consists of two main components: value individualism and rights individualism. The former is the view that, for each individual, the end which is of ultimate value is his own well-being. Each individual's well-being has ultimate agent-relative value and the only ultimate values are these agent-relative values. The latter view is that individuals possess moral jurisdiction over the…Read more
  •  63
    In defense of the jurisdiction theory of rights
    The Journal of Ethics 4 (1-2): 71-98. 2000.
    This essay critically examines three theories of moral rights, theBenefit, the Interest, and the Choice theories. The Interest andChoice theories attempt to explain how rights can be more robustthan seems possible on the Benefit theory. In particular, moralrights are supposed to be resistant to trade-offs to supportprincipled anti-paternalism, to constitute a distinct dimensionof morality, and to provide right holders with a range ofdiscretionary choice. I argue that these and other featuresare …Read more
  •  55
    Prerogatives, restrictions, and rights
    Social Philosophy and Policy 22 (1): 357-393. 2005.
    I offer a defense of the moral side-constraints to which Robert Nozick appeals in Anarchy, State and Utopia but for which he fails to provide a sustained justification. I identify a line of anti-consequentialist argumentation which is present in Nozick and which, in the terminology of Samuel Scheffler, moves first to affirm a personal prerogative which allows the individual not to sacrifice herself for the sake of the best overall outcome and second moves on to affirm restrictions (i.e., moral s…Read more
  •  54
    Scanlon as natural rights theorist
    Politics, Philosophy and Economics 6 (1): 45-73. 2007.
    This article examines the character of Scanlon’s contractualism as presented in What We Owe to Each Other . I offer a range of reasons for thinking of Scanlon’s contractualism as a species of natural rights theorizing. I argue that to affirm the principle that actions are wrongful if and only if they are disallowed by principles that people could not reasonably reject is equivalent to affirming a natural right (of an admittedly non-standard sort) against being subject to such reasonably disallow…Read more
  •  41
    Deontic Restrictions Are Not Agent-Relative Restrictions
    Social Philosophy and Policy 15 (2): 61. 1998.
    The primary purpose of this essay is to offer a critique of a particular program within moral and political philosophy. This program can be stated quite succinctly. It is to account for agents' being subject to deontic restrictions on the basis of their possession of agent-relative reasons for acting in accordance with those restrictions. Needless to say, the statement of this program requires some further explication. Specifically, two claims require explanation: the reasons individuals have fo…Read more
  •  34
    Lysander Spooner: Nineteenth-century America's last natural rights theorist
    Social Philosophy and Policy 29 (2): 139-176. 2012.
    Research Articles Eric Mack, Social Philosophy and Policy, FirstView Article
  •  34
    Critical notice
    Economics and Philosophy 19 (1): 135-147. 2003.
    Natural Goodness, PHILIPPA FOOT. Clarendon Press, 2002, 125 pages. Philippa Foot begins her short but intriguingly rewarding book on Natural Goodness by recounting a story about Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein interrupted a speaker who had realized that he was about to say something that, although it seemed compelling, was clearly ridiculous, and was trying (as we all do in such circumstances) to say something sensible instead. “No,” said Wittgenstein. “Say what you want to say. Be crude and then we …Read more
  •  32
    Equality, benevolence, and responsiveness to agent-relative value
    Social Philosophy and Policy 19 (1): 314-341. 2002.
    Do differences in income or wealth matter, morally speaking? This essay addresses a broader issue than this question seems to pose. But this broader issue is, I believe, the salient philosophical issue which this question actually poses. Let me explain. Narrowly read, the question at hand is concerned only with inequality of income or wealth. It asks us to consider whether inequality of income or wealth as such is morally problematic. On this construal, the question invites us to consider whethe…Read more
  •  23
    Inside Public Reason
    Criminal Law and Philosophy 7 (2): 389-402. 2013.
  •  23
    Elbow room for self-defense
    Social Philosophy and Policy 32 (2): 18-39. 2016.
    :This essay contrasts two approaches to permissible self-defensive killing. The first is the forfeiture approach; the second is the elbow room for self-defense approach. The forfeiture approach comes in many versions — not all of which make prominent use of the word “forfeiture.” However, all versions presume that the permissibility of X killing Y depends entirely on there being some feature of Y in virtue of which Y has become liable to be killed, that is, in virtue of which Y has forfeited or …Read more
  •  20
    7 How Liberty Upsets Patterns
    Contemporary Political Theory: A Reader. forthcoming.
  •  19
    Individualism and Libertarian Rights
    In Thomas Christiano & John Philip Christman (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Political Philosophy, Wiley-blackwell. pp. 17--121. 2009.
  •  17
    Higher Superstition
    International Studies in Philosophy 31 (2): 138-139. 1999.
  •  15
    Problematic Arguments in Randian Ethics
    Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 5 (1). 2003.
    Mack critically surveys a range of arguments characteristic of Randian writings in ethics (including Craig Biddle's Loving Life). He focuses on "the Shuffle," a set of argumentative moves in which there is illicit shifting back and forth between causal and conceptual understandings and defenses of claims of the form: Man's survival requires man's behaving in manner X (e.g., being rational, being productive). Mack concludes that much Randian argumentation is deeply flawed and urges admirers to di…Read more
  •  8
    More Problematic Arguments in Randian Ethics
    Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 7 (2). 2006.
  •  4
    John Locke
    Continuum. 2009.
    The second volume in the Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers.
  •  4
    Self-ownership, Marxism, and Egalitarianism
    Politics, Philosophy and Economics 1 (2): 237-276. 2002.
  •  4
    Frank Bubb and Tibor Machan raise objections to Mack's "Problematic Arguments in Randian Kthics." Bubb argues that a universalization test allows Rand to condemn every parasitic action—even ones that serve the agent's survival. But this universalization test is faulty; it calls upon individuals to act as would be rational if the world were not as it is. Machan argues that Rand can hold that the fundamental choice between life and death is ungrounded without being a subjectivist. But Machan does …Read more
  •  3
    Self-ownership, Marxism, and Egalitarianism
    Politics, Philosophy and Economics 1 (1): 75-108. 2002.
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