•  578
    Conjuring Ethics from Words
    with Jonathan McKeown-Green and Aness Webster
    Noûs 49 (1): 71-93. 2015.
    Many claims about conceptual matters are often represented as, or inferred from, claims about the meaning, reference, or mastery, of words. But sometimes this has led to treating conceptual analysis as though it were nothing but linguistic analysis. We canvass the most promising justifications for moving from linguistic premises to substantive conclusions. We show that these justifications fail and argue against current practice (in metaethics and elsewhere), which confuses an investigation of a…Read more
  •  283
    Is Virtue Ethics Self-Effacing?
    The Journal of Ethics 15 (3): 191-207. 2011.
    Thomas Hurka, Simon Keller, and Julia Annas have recently argued that virtue ethics is self-effacing. I contend that these arguments are rooted in a mistaken understanding of the role that ideal agency and agent flourishing (should) play in virtue ethics. I then show how a virtue ethical theory can avoid the charge of self-effacement and why it is important that it do so.
  •  175
    Meekness and 'Moral' Anger
    Ethics 122 (2): 341-370. 2012.
    If asked to generate a list of virtues, most people would not include meekness. So it is surprising that Hume not only deems it a virtue, but one whose 'tendency to the good of society no one can doubt of.' After explaining what Hume and his contemporaries meant by "meekness", the paper proceeds to argue that meekness is a virtue we, too, should endorse.
  •  113
    Hume on forgiveness and the unforgivable
    Utilitas 19 (4): 447-465. 2007.
    Are torture and torturers unforgivable? The article examines this question in the light of a Humean account of forgiveness. Initially, the Humean account appears to suggest that torturers are unforgivable. However, in the end, I argue it provides us with good reasons to think that even torturers may be forgiven.
  •  109
    The Standing to Forgive
    The Monist 92 (4): 583-603. 2009.
    In the philosophical literature on forgiveness it is almost universally assumed that only the victim of a wrong has the standing to forgive. This paper challenges that assumption and argues for the possibility of meaningful second- and third-party forgiveness
  •  99
    Ambitions
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (1). 2007.
    Ambition is a curiously neglected topic in ethics. It isn’t that philosophers have not discussed it. Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Harrington, Locke, Rousseau, Smith, Santayana and a number of others have discussed ambition. But it has seldom received more than a few paragraphs worth of analysis, in spite of the fact that ambition plays a central role in Western politics (one cannot be elected without it), and in spite of the fact that Machiavelli, Harrington, Locke and Roussea…Read more
  •  92
    The dilemma of divine forgiveness
    Religious Studies 44 (4): 457-464. 2008.
    The dilemma of divine forgiveness suggests it is unreasonable to be comforted by the thought that God forgives acts that injure human victims. A plausible response to the dilemma suggests that the comfort derives from the belief that God’s forgiveness releases the wrongdoer from punishment for her misdeed. This response is shown to be flawed. A more adequate response is then developed out of the connection between forgiveness and reconciliation.
  •  90
    Shame: A Case Study of Collective Emotion
    with Nigel Parsons
    Social Theory and Practice 38 (3): 504-530. 2012.
    This paper outlines what we call a network model of collective emotions. Drawing upon this model, we explore the significance of collective emotions in the Palestine-Israel conflict. We highlight some of the ways in which collective shame, in particular, has contributed to the evolution of this conflict. And we consider some of the obstacles that shame and the pride-restoring narratives to which it gave birth pose to the conflict’s resolution.
  •  87
    Unapologetic Forgiveness
    American Philosophical Quarterly 41 (3). 2004.
    The paper responds to those who argue that it is morally objectionable to forgive the unapologetic. I argue that it is both possible and permissible to forgive the unapologetic. Along the way the analysis sheds light on the relationship between forgiveness and trust, condonation, self-respect, punishment, justice and apology.
  •  81
    Anger and moral judgment
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (2): 269-286. 2014.
    Although theorists disagree about precisely how to characterize the link between anger and moral judgment, that they are linked is routinely taken for granted in contemporary metaethics and philosophy of emotion. One problem with this assumption is that it ignores virtues like patience, which thinkers as different as Cassian, Śāntideva, and Maimonides have argued are characteristic of mature moral agents. The patient neither experience nor plan to experience anger in response to (at least some) …Read more
  •  81
    Hannah Arendt and collective forgiving
    Journal of Social Philosophy 37 (4). 2006.
    The paper explores the possibility of collectives forgiving and being forgiven. The first half of the paper articulates and amends Hannah Arendt’s account of forgiveness of and by individuals. The second half raises several objections to the possibility of extending this account to forgiveness of and by collectives. In reply, I argue that collectives can have emotions, be guilty, and meet other necessary conditions for forgiving or being forgiven. However, I explain why, even though collect…Read more
  •  59
    Understanding, excusing, forgiving
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1). 2007.
    This paper explores the relation between understanding and forgiving. A number of people have argued against the old adage that to understand is to forgive, for in many instances understanding leads to excusing rather than forgiving. Nonetheless, there is an interesting connection to be found between forgiving and understanding. I identify three ways in which understanding can lead to forgiveness ofunexcused wrongdoing: It can do so by changing our interpretation of the actor, by changing our in…Read more
  •  57
    Moral ambition
    with Michael Meyer
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (2): 285-299. 2009.
    The paper opens with an account of moral ambition which, it argues, is both a coherent ideal and an admirable trait. It closes with a discussion of some of the ways in which this trait might differ from traditional virtues such as temperance, courage, or benevolence
  •  53
    The Forgiveness We Speak: The Illocutionary Force of Forgiving
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 42 (3): 371-392. 2004.
    What are we doing when we say "I forgive you"? This paper employs Austin's notion of illocutionary force to analyze three different kinds of acts in which we might engage when saying "I forgive you." We might use it (1) to disclose an emotional condition, (2) to declare a debt cancelled, or (3) to commit ourselves to a future course of action. I suggest that the forgiving utterances we seek possess qualities of both the first and the third types of speech-acts.
  •  45
    Palestinian Political Forgiveness
    Social Theory and Practice 36 (4): 661-688. 2010.
    It is often suggested that the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict will require forgiveness on the part of both Palestinians and Israelis. This paper looks at what such forgiveness might involve for one party to the conflict. It begins by offering an account of political forgiveness in which both collective actions and collective emotions play a significant role. It then explores whether there is a collective Palestinian agent capable of forgiving as well as whether it would be permissib…Read more
  •  45
    Apologizing for Who I Am
    with Jordan Collins
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (2): 137-150. 2011.
    Philosophical discussions of apologies have focused on apologizing for wrong actions. Such a focus overlooks an important dimension of moral failures, namely, failures of character. However, when one attempts to revise the standard account of apology to make room for failures of character, two objections emerge. The first is rooted in the psychology of shame. The second stems from the purported social function of apologies. This paper responds to these objections and, in so doing, sheds further …Read more
  •  45
    Forgiveness and Love
    Oxford University Press. 2012.
    What is forgiveness? When is it appropriate? Is it to be earned or can it be freely given? Is it a passion we cannot control, or something we choose to do? Glen Pettigrove explores the relationship between forgiving, understanding, and loving. He examines the significance of character for the debate, and revives the long-neglected virtue of grace.
  •  41
    Rights, Reasons, and Religious Conflict
    Social Philosophy Today 21 81-93. 2005.
    The role of religious commitments in John Rawls’s version of political liberalism has drawn frequent criticism. Some of the critics have complained that it fails to respect those with deep religious commitments by excluding explicitly religious reasons from debate about fundamental issues of justice. Others criticize the exclusion of religious reasons on the ground that it is unnecessary. Political liberalism, they argue, can accommodate appeals to religious reasons. For critics of both stripes,…Read more
  •  37
    Forgiveness and interpretation
    Journal of Religious Ethics 35 (3): 429-452. 2007.
    This paper explores the relationship between our interpretations of another's actions and our readiness to forgive. It begins by articulating an account of forgiveness drawn from the New Testament. It then employs the work of Schleiermacher, Dilthey, and Gadamer to investigate ways in which our interpretations of an act or agent can promote or prevent such forgiveness. It concludes with a discussion of some ethical restrictions that may pertain to the interpretation of actions or agents as oppos…Read more
  •  36
    Re-Conceiving Character: The Social Ontology of Humean Virtue
    Res Philosophica 92 (3): 595-619. 2015.
    Most twenty-first century ethicists conceive of character as a stable, enduring state that is internal to the agent who possesses it. This paper argues that writers in the 17th and 18th centuries did not share this conception: as they conceived it, character is fragile and has a social ontology. The paper goes on to show that Hume’s conception of character was more like his contemporaries than like ours. It concludes with a look at the significance of such a conception for current debates abo…Read more
  •  35
    Death, asymmetry and the psychological self
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 83 (4). 2002.
    Lucretius thought that we should be as indifferent to the time of our death as we are toward the time of our birth. This paper will critique the ways in which Thomas Nagel, Frederik Kaufman and Christopher Belshaw have appealed to a psychological notion of the self in an attempt to defend our asymmetric intuitions against Lucretius’ claim. Four objections are marshalled against the psychological–self strategy: (1) the psychological notion of the self fails to capture all of our intuitions about …Read more
  •  32
    Apology, Reparations, and the Question of Inherited Guilt
    Public Affairs Quarterly 17 (4): 319-348. 2003.
    The paper addresses the question of the appropriateness of a Congressional apology for American slavery. After offering an account of what an apology entails, I consider the claim that today's Congress fails to stand in the right relation to the guilt of American slavery to apologize for it. I argue that, while the current Congress and the constituency it represents do not bear a guilt that would permit it to apologize FOR slavery, it has inherited a guilt RELATED TO slavery for which it is appr…Read more
  •  24
    Virtue ethics
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2009.
    Virtue ethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. We begin by discussing two concepts that are central to all forms of virtue ethics, namely, virtue and practical wisdom. Then we note some of the features that distinguish different virtue ethical theories from one another before turning to objections that have been raised against virtue ethics and responses offered on its behalf. We conclude with a look at some of the directions in which future research might develo…Read more
  •  22
    Most contemporary variants of virtue ethics have a neo-Aristotelian timbre. However, standing alongside the neo-Aristotelians are a number of others playing similar tunes on different instruments. This chapter highlights the four most important virtue ethical alternatives to the dominant neo-Aristotelian chorus. These are Michael Slote’s agent-based approach, Linda Zagzebski’s exemplarism, Christine Swanton’s target-centered theory, and Robert Merrihew Adams’s neo-Platonic account. What thes…Read more
  •  11
    II—Ambition, Love, And Happiness
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 120 (1): 21-45. 2020.
    What is the relationship between ambition and love? While discussions of happiness often mention romances, friendships, aspirations, and achievements, the relationship between these features is seldom discussed. This paper aims to fill that gap. It begins with a suggestive remark made by La Rochefoucauld and repeated by Adam Smith: ‘Love often leads on to ambition, but seldom does one return from ambition to love.’ To explain what accounts for such a pattern, I introduce a distinction between st…Read more
  •  7
    How do we punish others socially, and should we do so? In her 2018 Descartes Lectures for Tilburg University, Linda Radzik explores the informal methods ordinary people use to enforce moral norms, such as telling people off, boycotting businesses, and publicly shaming wrongdoers on social media. Over three lectures, Radzik develops an account of what social punishment is, why it is sometimes permissible, and when it must be withheld. She argues that the proper aim of social punishment is to put …Read more
  •  3
    Forgiveness without god
    Journal of Religious Ethics 3 (40): 518-544. 2012.
    Of the many forgiveness-related questions that she takes up in her novels, the one with which Iris Murdoch wrestles most often is the question, ‘Is forgiveness possible without God?’ The aim of this paper is to show, in the first instance, why the question Murdoch persistently raises is a question worth asking. Alongside this primary aim stands a secondary one, which is to consider how one might glean moral insights from the Christian tradition even if one does not (any longer) endorse its the…Read more
  •  2
    Virtue ethics, virtue theory and moral theology
    In Stan van Hooft & Nafsika Athanassoulis (eds.), The Handbook of Virtue Ethics, Acumen Publishing. 2014.
    The virtues have long played a central role in Christian moral teaching. Not surprisingly, over the centuries theologians have produced a number of interesting versions of virtue ethics. In spite of the fact that they hearken back to and are profoundly shaped by a shared set of canonical texts, theological commitments, and ritual observances, many of these versions of virtue ethics differ quite markedly from one another. The perfectionism of Wesley’s A Plain Account of Christian Perfection is…Read more
  •  1
    Changing Our Mind
    In Michael Brady & Miranda Fricker (eds.), The Epistemic Life of Groups: Essays in the Epistemology of Collectives, Oxford University Press. pp. 111-129. 2016.
    A complete analysis of group knowledge would include an account of the acquisition and revision of group beliefs. This paper explores what an account of group belief revision would require. Focusing on moral communities and moral beliefs, I identify a number of ways in which such communities might revise their beliefs. And I develop an account of group belief revision that can accommodate modifications of a) propositional content, b) non-propositional content, c) understanding and d) concepti…Read more
  • In the 1720s Francis Hutcheson developed a systematic account of the origins of ethical judgments that would have a profound influence on later writers. Ethical judgments, he argues, arise from the perceptions of internal senses that are, themselves, rooted in ‘Passions and Affections’. This paper describes his account and draws attention to an important tension at its heart. When judging particular cases, Hutcheson praises kindly, generous, and merciful affections as exemplary. But when he …Read more