•  99
    Intentional action and "in order to"
    Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 27 (1): 113-118. 2007.
    I. Thanks largely to Joshua Knobe, philosophers now frequently empirically investigate the folk psychological concept of intentional action. Knobe (2003, 2004a, 2004b) argues that application of this concept is often surprisingly sensitive to one’s moral views. In particular, it seems that people are much more willing to regard a bit of behavior as intentional, if they think that the action in question is bad or wrong. There is much controversy about both the design and the interpretation of the…Read more
  •  98
    How Indirect Can Indirect Utilitarianism Be?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (2): 275-301. 2007.
    Most act-utilitarians now reject the direct utilitarianism of Bentham. They do so because they are convinced of what I call the paradox of utilitarianism -- the thought that one cannot maximize happiness if one is trying to maximize happiness. Instead, they adopt some form of indirect utilitarianism (IU), arguing that the optimal decision procedure may differ markedly from the criterion of rightness for actions. Here I distinguish between six different versions of indirect utilitarianism, arguin…Read more
  •  96
    Moral Advice and Joint Agency
    In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, 8, Oxford University Press. pp. 102-123. 2018.
    There are many alleged problems with trusting another person’s moral testimony, perhaps the most prominent of which is that it fails to deliver moral understanding. Without moral understanding, one cannot do the right thing for the right reason, and so acting on trusted moral testimony lacks moral worth. This chapter, however, argues that moral advice differs from moral testimony, differs from it in a way that enables a defender of moral advice to parry this worry about moral worth. The basic id…Read more
  •  75
    Advice and moral objectivity
    Philosophical Papers 29 (1): 1-19. 2000.
    No abstract
  •  70
    The Incoherence Objection in Moral Theory
    Acta Analytica 25 (3): 279-284. 2010.
    J.J.C. Smart famously complained that rule utilitarianism is incoherent, and that rule utilitarians are guilty of rule worship . Much has been said about whether Smart’s complaint is justified, but I will assume for the sake of argument that Smart was on to something. Instead, I have three other goals. First, I want to show that Smart’s complaint is a specific instance of a more general objection to a moral theory—what I will call the Incoherence Objection. Second, I want to illustrate how…Read more
  •  69
    Good advice and rational action
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (3): 561-569. 2000.
    This paper launches a new criticism of Michael Smith’s advice model of internalism. Whereas Robert Neal Johnson argues that Smith’s advice model collapses into the example model of internalism, the author contends that taking advice seriously pushes us instead toward some version of externalism. The advice model of internalism misportrays the logic of accepting advice. Agents do not have epistemic access to what their fully rational selves would advise them to do, and so it is necessary for a mo…Read more
  •  67
    Unconscious violinists and the use of analogies in moral argument
    Journal of Medical Ethics 26 (6): 466-468. 2000.
    Analogies are the stuff out of which normative moral philosophy is made. Certainly one of the most famous analogies constructed by a philosopher in order to argue for a specific controversial moral conclusion is the one involving Judith Thomson's unconscious violinist. Reflection upon this analogy is meant to show us that abortion is generally not immoral even if the prenatal have the same moral status as the postnatal. This was and still is a controversial conclusion, and yet the analogy does s…Read more
  •  64
    In the beginning was the doing: the premises of the practical syllogism
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (3): 303-321. 2013.
    (2013). In the beginning was the doing: the premises of the practical syllogism. Canadian Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 43, No. 3, pp. 303-321
  •  62
    Some advice for moral psychologists
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 84 (3). 2003.
    Recently, philosophers have employed the notion of advice to tackle a variety of philosophical problems. In particular, Michael Smith and Nomy Arpaly have in different ways related the notion of advice to the notion of a reason for action. Here I argue that both accounts are flawed, because each operates with a simplistic picture of the way advice works. I conclude that it would be wise to take more time to analyze what advice is and how it in fact works, before putting it to particular philosop…Read more
  •  51
    Psychologism, practical reason and the possibility of error
    Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210). 2003.
    Psychologism is the view that practical reasons are psychological states. It is widely thought that psychologism is supported by the following principle governing explanation: TF. The difference between false and true beliefs on A's part cannot alter the form of the explanation which will be appropriate to A's actions. (TF) seems to imply that we always need to cite agents' beliefs when explaining their actions, no matter whether those beliefs are true or false. And this seems to vindicate psych…Read more
  •  50
    A fallacy in Korsgaard's argument for moral obligation
    Journal of Value Inquiry 34 (1): 103-104. 2000.
  •  43
    On Indirectly Self-defeating Moral Theories
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 5 (3): 384-393. 2008.
    Derek Parfit has notably argued that while a moral theory should not be directly self-defeating, there is nothing necessarily wrong with a moral theory that is only indirectly self-defeating. Here I resist this line of argument. I argue instead that indirectly self-defeating moral theories are indeed problematic. Parfit tries to sidestep the oddities of indirectly self-defeating theories by focusing on the choice of dispositions rather than actions. But the very considerations that can make it i…Read more
  •  42
    A nagging problem for the consequentialist is the fact that a person who chooses the action-option that seems to her to maximize good consequences all toooften does not produce consequences as good as she would have produced had she thought about her decision in some other fashion. In response, indirect consequentialists typically recommend that one take advantage of whatever benefits the employment of a nonconsequentialist decision procedure may provide. But I argue here that the consequentiali…Read more
  •  26
    Theories of Practical Reason
    Metaphilosophy 33 (4): 450-467. 2002.
    Leading theories of practical reason can be grouped into one of four families: psychologism, realism, compatibilism, and Aristotelianism. Although there are many differences among the theories within each family, I ignore these in order to ask which family is most likely to deliver a satisfactory philosophical account of reasons for action. I articulate three requirements we should expect any adequate theory of practical reason to meet: it should account for how reasons explain action, how reaso…Read more
  •  25
    Moral Testimony: Going on the Offensive
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 12. 2017.
    Is there anything peculiarly bad about accepting moral testimony? According to pessimists, trusting moral testimony is an inadequate substitute for working out your moral views on your own. Enlightenment requires thinking for oneself, at least where morality is concerned. Optimists, by contrast, aim to show that trusting moral testimony isn’t bad largely by arguing that it’s no worse than trusting testimony generally. Essentially, they play defense. However, this chapter goes on the offensive. I…Read more
  •  21
    Peer Disagreement: Special Cases
    Logos and Episteme 9 (2): 221-226. 2018.
    When you discover that an epistemic peer disagrees with you about some matter, does rationality require you to alter your views? Concessivists answer in the affirmative, but their view faces a problem in special cases. As others have noted, if concessivism itself is what’s under dispute, then concessivism seems to undermine itself. But there are other unexplored special cases too. This article identifies three such special cases, and argues that concessivists in fact face no special problem.
  •  21
    Is there ethical knowledge?
    Southwest Philosophy Review 14 (1): 63-68. 1998.
  •  20
    Should Children Have the Right to Vote?
    In David Boonin, Katrina L. Sifferd, Tyler K. Fagan, Valerie Gray Hardcastle, Michael Huemer, Daniel Wodak, Derk Pereboom, Stephen J. Morse, Sarah Tyson, Mark Zelcer, Garrett VanPelt, Devin Casey, Philip E. Devine, David K. Chan, Maarten Boudry, Christopher Freiman, Hrishikesh Joshi, Shelley Wilcox, Jason Brennan, Eric Wiland, Ryan Muldoon, Mark Alfano, Philip Robichaud, Kevin Timpe, David Livingstone Smith, Francis J. Beckwith, Dan Hooley, Russell Blackford, John Corvino, Corey McCall, Dan Demetriou, Ajume Wingo, Michael Shermer, Ole Martin Moen, Aksel Braanen Sterri, Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, Jeppe von Platz, John Thrasher, Mary Hawkesworth, William MacAskill, Daniel Halliday, Janine O’Flynn, Yoaav Isaacs, Jason Iuliano, Claire Pickard, Arvin M. Gouw, Tina Rulli, Justin Caouette, Allen Habib, Brian D. Earp & Andrew Vierra (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy, Springer Verlag. pp. 215-224. 2018.
    No citizen should be denied the right to vote due solely to her age. We can see this by showing that all objections to it fail. It might be objected that it is not unjust to so deprive children because children as a group are unintelligent or irrational, have their interests already represented by the parents, or are justly deprived of many other rights, among other reasons. But all these objections fail because there is no evidence to support it, even if true, this would not justify disenfranch…Read more
  •  14
    Metaethics and Ethics
    In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Wiley-blackwell. 2013.
  •  14
    Reasons
    Continuum. 2012.
    When we say we 'act for a reason', what do we mean? And what do reasons have to do with being good or bad? Introducing readers to a foundational topic in ethics, Eric Wiland considers the reasons for which we act. You do things for reasons, and reasons in some sense justify what you do. Further, your reasons belong to you, and you know the reasons for which you act in a distinctively first-personal way. Wiland lays out and critically reviews some of the most popular contemporary accounts of h…Read more
  •  13
    (En)joining Others
    In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, Oxford University Press. pp. 64-84. 2019.
    This paper argues that under some conditions, when one person acts on the direction of another person, the two of them thereby act together, and that this explains why both the director and the directee can be responsible for what is done. In other words, a director and a directee can be a joint agent, one whose members are responsible for what they together do. This is most clearly so when the directive is a command. But it is also sometimes so when the directive is a bit of advice.
  •  12
    Good Advice and Rational Action
    Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 60 (3): 561-569. 2000.
    This paper launches a new criticism of Michael Smith's advice model of internalism. Whereas Robert Neal Johnson argues that Smith's advice model collapses into the example model of internalism, the author contends that taking advice seriously pushes us instead toward some version of externalism. The advice model of internalism misportrays the logic of accepting advice. Agents do not have epistemic access to what their fully rational selves would advise them to do, and so it is necessary for a mo…Read more