Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America
  •  1830
    Coherentist Epistemology and Moral Theory
    In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Mark Timmons (eds.), Moral Knowledge? New Readings in Moral Epistemology, Oxford University Press. 1996.
    matter of knowing that -- that injustice is wrong, courage is valuable, and care is As a result, what I'll be doing is primarily defending in general -- and due. Such knowledge is embodied in a range of capacities, abilities, and skills..
  •  310
    Being a realist about relativism (in ethics)
    Philosophical Studies 61 (1-2): 155-176. 1991.
    How should a moral realist respond to the (seemingly) abundant evidence diversity provides for relativism? Many think there is only one reasonable response: abandon moral realism. Against them, I argue that moral realists can stand their ground in the face of moral diversity without relying on excessively optimistic arguments or unrealistic assumptions. In the process, I defend two theses: (i) that, far from being incompatible with moral realism, many plausible versions of relativism are _versio…Read more
  •  245
    Essays on Moral Realism (edited book)
    Cornell University Press. 1988.
    Introduction The Many Moral Realisms Geoffrey Sayre-McCord I. Introduction Recognizing the startling resurgence in realism, ...
  •  178
    Different kinds of kind terms: A reply to Sosa and Kim
    Philosophical Issues 8 313-323. 1997.
  •  177
    How many serious mistakes can a brilliant philosopher make in a single paragraph? Many think that Mill answers this question by example—in the third paragraph of Chapter IV of Utilitarianism. Here is the notorious paragraph: The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible, is that people hear it: and so of the other sources of our experience. In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to pr…Read more
  •  144
    On Why Hume's “General Point of View” Isn't Ideal–and Shouldn't Be
    Social Philosophy and Policy 11 (1): 202-228. 1994.
    It is tempting and not at all uncommon to find the striking—even noble—visage of an Ideal Observer staring out from the center of Hume's moral theory. When Hume claims, for instance, that virtue is “ whatever mental action or quality gives to a spectator the pleasing sentiment of approbation ,” it is only natural to think that he must have in mind not just any spectator but a spectator who is fully informed and unsullied by prejudice. And when Hume writes that “the true standard of taste and bea…Read more
  •  115
    The many moral realisms
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 24 (S1): 1-22. 1986.
  •  80
    Hume and Smith on sympathy, approbation, and moral judgment
    Social Philosophy and Policy 30 (1-2): 208-236. 2013.
    David Hume and Adam Smith are usually, and understandably, seen as developing very similar sentimentalist accounts of moral thought and practice. As similar as Hume's and Smith's accounts of moral thought are, they differ in telling ways. This essay is an attempt primarily to get clear on the important differences. They are worth identifying and exploring, in part, because of the great extent to which Hume and Smith share not just an overall approach to moral theory but also a conception of what…Read more
  •  73
    Hume and the Bauhaus Theory of Ethics
    Midwest Studies in Philosophy 20 (1): 280-298. 1995.
    Appeals to utility permeate Hume's account of morality. He maintains, for which have this tendency to the public advantage and loss" (T. 578-79).
  •  73
    'Good' on twin earth
    Philosophical Issues 8 267-292. 1997.
  •  70
    Contractarianism, as a general approach to moral and political thought, has perspective I offer, however, is not scrupulously historical. I smooth over a good deal of the twists and turns that due care to the historical record would had a long and distinguished history -- its roots are easily traced as far back as..
  •  69
    Functional explanations and reasons as causes
    Philosophical Perspectives 3 137-164. 1989.
    If we assume that a conceptual connection does hold between reasons and action, the arguments for both theses are strikingly simple. In defense of the first thesis, all that need be added is Hume's Principle: between cause and effect only a (logically) contingent relation holds. For given Hume's Principle, and the conceptual connection (which after all is not a contingent one), it follows that no causal connection holds. In defense of the second thesis, all that need be added is one assumption a…Read more
  •  59
    Moral Theory and Explanatory Impotence
    Midwest Studies in Philosophy 12 (1): 433-457. 1988.
  •  57
    Normative explanations
    Philosophical Perspectives 6 55-71. 1992.
  •  44
    In Morality, Bernard Gert argues that the fundamental demands of morality are well articulated by ten distinct, and relatively simple, rules. These rules, he holds, are such that any person, no matter what her circumstances or interests, would be rational in accepting, and guiding her choices by, them. The rules themselves are comfortably familiar (e.g. “Do not kill,” “Do not deceive,” “Keep your promises”) and sit well as intuitively plausible. Yet the rules are not, Gert argues, to be accepted…Read more
  •  34
    Metaethics
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008.
  •  26
    On ‘Cooperation’
    Analyse & Kritik 40 (1): 107-130. 2018.
    The term ‘cooperation’ is widely used in social and political and biological and economic theory. Perhaps for this reason, the term takes on a variety of meanings and it is not always clear in many settings what aspect of an interaction is being described. This paper has the modest aim of sorting through some of this variety of meanings; and exploring, against that background, when and why cooperation might be of value, or be required, or constitute a virtue.
  •  23
    Deception and Reasons to Be Moral
    American Philosophical Quarterly 26 (2). 1989.
  •  19
    Real world theory, complacency, and aspiration
    Philosophical Studies 1-20. forthcoming.
    Just how realistic about human nature and real possibilities must a theory of justice, or a moral theory, more generally, be? Lines have been drawn, with some holding that idealizing away from reality is indispensable and others maintaining that utopian thinking is not just useless but irrelevant. In Utopophobia David Estlund defends the value of utopian theory. At his most modest, Estlund claims that it is a legitimate approach, not ruled out of court by anti-idealists on entirely inadequate gr…Read more
  •  18
    How many serious mistakes can a brilliant philosopher make in a single paragraph? Many think that Mill answers this question by example—in the third paragraph of Chapter IV of Utilitarianism. Here is the notorious paragraph: The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible, is that people hear it: and so of the other sources of our experience. In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to pr…Read more
  •  13
    Do normative facts matter... To what is feasible?
    Social Philosophy and Policy 33 (1-2): 434-456. 2016.
  •  8
    David M. Estlund
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 66 (4). 1988.