•  408
    But I Could Be Wrong
    Social Philosophy and Policy 18 (2): 64. 2001.
    My aim in this essay is to explore the implications of the fact that even our most deeply held moral beliefs have been profoundly affected by our upbringing and experience—that if any of us had had a sufficiently different upbringing and set of experiences, he almost certainly would now have a very different set of moral beliefs and very different habits of moral judgment. This fact, together with the associated proliferation of incompatible moral doctrines, is sometimes invoked in support of li…Read more
  •  362
    Justifying reverse discrimination in employment
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 4 (2): 159-170. 1975.
  •  212
    Three grades of social involvement
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 18 (2): 133-157. 1989.
  •  202
    Out of control
    Ethics 116 (2): 285-301. 2006.
  •  192
    On the decriminalization of drugs
    Criminal Justice Ethics 22 (1): 30-33. 2003.
  •  186
    Ancient wrongs and modern rights
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (1): 3-17. 1981.
  •  177
    Real-world luck egalitarianism
    Social Philosophy and Policy 27 (1): 218-232. 2010.
    Luck egalitarians maintain that inequalities are always unjust when they are due to luck, but are not always unjust when they are due to choices for which the parties are responsible. In this paper, I argue that the two halves of this formula do not fit neatly together, and that we arrive at one version of luck egalitarianism if we begin with the notion of luck and interpret responsible choice in terms of its absence, but a very different version if we begin with the notion of responsible choice…Read more
  •  165
    Diversity
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 28 (2): 85-104. 1999.
  •  109
  •  101
    Who’s in Charge Here?: Reply to Neil Levy
    Philosophia 36 (2): 223-226. 2008.
    In his response to my essay “Out of Control,” Neil Levy contests my claims that (1) we are often responsible for acts that we do not consciously choose to perform, and that (2) despite the absence of conscious choice, there remains a relevant sense in which these actions are within our control. In this reply to Levy, I concede that claim (2) is linguistically awkward but defend the thought that it expresses, and I clarify my defense of claim (1) by distinguishing my position from attributionism
  •  93
    Sentences in the brain
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 36 (September): 94-99. 1975.
  •  92
    Talents and Choices
    Noûs 46 (3): 400-417. 2012.
  •  89
    Blameworthy Action and Character
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (2). 2002.
    A number of philosophers from Hume on have claimed that it does not make sense to blame people for acting badly unless their bad acts were rooted in their characters. In this paper, I distinguish a stronger and a weaker version of this claim. The claim is false, I argue, if it is taken to mean that agents can only be blamed for bad acts when those acts are manifestations of character flaws. However, what is both true and important is the weaker claim that an act is not blameworthy unless it is r…Read more
  •  88
    Kantian fairness
    Philosophical Issues 15 (1). 2005.
    It is widely thought to be unfair to hold people responsible, or to blame or punish them, for wrongful acts or omissions that are beyond their control. Because this principle is often taken to support incompatibilism, and because it has led many to deny the possibility of moral luck, we might expect its normative underpinnings to have been carefully scrutinized. However, surprisingly, they have not. In the current paper, I will try to fill this gap by first reconstructing, and then criticizing, …Read more
  •  80
    Moral relativism defended?
    Mind 89 (356): 589-594. 1980.
  •  78
    Who Knew?: Responsiblity Without Awareness
    Oxford University Press USA. 2009.
    To be responsible for their acts, agents must both perform those acts voluntarily and in some sense know what they are doing. Of these requirements, the voluntariness condition has been much discussed, but the epistemic condition has received far less attention. In Who Knew? George Sher seeks to rectify that imbalance. The book is divided in two halves, the first of which criticizes a popular but inadequate way of understanding the epistemic condition, while the second seeks to develop a more ad…Read more
  •  76
    Compensation and Transworld Personal Identity
    The Monist 62 (3): 378-391. 1979.
    A natural way of viewing compensation is to see it as the restoration of a good or level of well-being which someone would have enjoyed if he had not been adversely affected by the act of another. This view underlies Nozick’s assertion that “something fully compensates … person X for Y’s action A if X is no worse off receiving it, Y having done A, than X would have been without receiving it if Y had not done A”; and it has been held by many others as well. Because the notion that compensation is…Read more
  •  76
    Blame for traits
    Noûs 35 (1). 2001.
  •  72
    Moral education and indoctrination
    with William J. Bennett
    Journal of Philosophy 79 (11): 665-677. 1982.
  •  69
    Beyond Neutrality: Perfectionism and Politics
    Cambridge University Press. 1997.
    Many people, including many contemporary philosophers, believe that the state has no business trying to improve people's characters, elevating their tastes, or preventing them from living degraded lives. They believe that governments should remain absolutely neutral when it comes to the consideration of competing conceptions of the good. One fundamental aim of George Sher's book is to show that this view is indefensible. A second complementary aim is to articulate a conception of the good that i…Read more
  •  57
    Punishment as Societal Defense
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (2): 548-550. 1999.
    Phillip Montague’s point of departure is a simple but illuminating way of conceptualizing the fact that creates the need for punishment—namely, that each society contains some people who will wrongfully kill or injure others unless held in check by a system of penalties. This fact, Montague argues, in effect confronts each society with a forced choice: either allow potential criminals to inflict harm on others, or else prevent them from doing so by maintaining a system of punishment that will ha…Read more
  •  52
    Kripke, cartesian intuitions, and materialism
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 7 (2): 227-38. 1977.
    In his influential “Naming and Necessity,” Saul Kripke has deployed a new sort of analytical apparatus in support of the classical Cartesian argument that minds and bodies must be distinct because they can be imagined separately. In the initial section of this paper, I shall first paraphrase Kripke's version of that argument, and then suggest a way in which even one who accepts all of its philosophical presuppositions may avoid its conclusion. In the second section, I shall defend this suggestio…Read more
  •  48
    Subsidized abortion: Moral rights and moral compromise
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (4): 361-372. 1981.
  •  47
    Responsibility Matters.Retribution Reconsidered: More Essays in the Philosophy of Law.Desert
    with Michael J. Zimmerman, Peter A. French, and Jeffrie G. Murphy
    Noûs 29 (2): 248. 1995.
  •  46
    In Praise of Blame
    Oup Usa. 2007.
    Blame is an unpopular and neglected notion: it goes against the grain of a therapeutically-oriented culture and has been far less discussed by philosophers than such related notions as responsibility and punishment. This book seeks to show that neither the opposition nor the neglect is justified. The book's most important conclusion is that blame is inseperable from morality itself - that any considerations that justify us in accepting a set of moral principles must also call for the condemnatio…Read more
  •  45
    Hare, abortion, and the golden rule
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (2): 185-190. 1977.