•  1084
    Recent Work on Motivational Internalism
    with Fredrik Björklund, John Eriksson, Ragnar Francén Olinder, and Caj Strandberg
    Analysis 72 (1): 124-137. 2012.
    Reviews work on moral judgment motivational internalism from the last two decades.
  •  963
    Moral Attitudes for Non-Cognitivists: Solving the Specification Problem
    with Tristram McPherson
    Mind 123 (489): 1-38. 2014.
    Moral non-cognitivists hope to explain the nature of moral agreement and disagreement as agreement and disagreement in non-cognitive attitudes. In doing so, they take on the task of identifying the relevant attitudes, distinguishing the non-cognitive attitudes corresponding to judgements of moral wrongness, for example, from attitudes involved in aesthetic disapproval or the sports fan’s disapproval of her team’s performance. We begin this paper by showing that there is a simple recipe for gener…Read more
  •  914
    Explaining (away) the epistemic condition on moral responsibility
    In Philip Robichaud & Jan Willem Wieland (eds.), Responsibility - The Epistemic Condition, Oxford University Press. 2017.
    It is clear that lack of awareness of the consequences of an action can undermine moral responsibility and blame for these consequences. But when and how it does so is controversial. Sometimes an agent believing that the outcome might occur is excused because it seemed unlikely to her, and sometimes an agent having no idea that it would occur is nevertheless to blame. A low or zero degree of belief might seem to excuse unless the agent “should have known better”, but it is unclear how to spell o…Read more
  •  806
    Traditional and Experimental Approaches to Free Will and Moral Responsibility
    In Justin Sytsma & Wesley Buckwalter (eds.), Companion to Experimental Philosophy, Blackwell. pp. 142-57. 2016.
    Examines the relevance of empirical studies of responsibility judgments for traditional philosophical concerns about free will and moral responsibility. We argue that experimental philosophy is relevant to the traditional debates, but that setting up experiments and interpreting data in just the right way is no less difficult than negotiating traditional philosophical arguments. Both routes are valuable, but so far neither promises a way to secure significant agreement among the competing partie…Read more
  •  790
    Metaethical Contextualism Defended
    Ethics 121 (1): 7-36. 2010.
    We defend a contextualist account of deontic judgments as relativized both to (i) information and to (ii) standards or ends, against recent objections that turn on practices of moral disagreement. Kolodny & MacFarlane argue that information-relative contextualism cannot accommodate the connection between deliberation and advice; we suggest in response that they misidentify the basic concerns of deliberating agents. For pragmatic reasons, semantic assessments of normative claims sometimes are eva…Read more
  •  782
    A Unified Empirical Account of Responsibility Judgments
    with Karl Persson
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (3): 611-639. 2013.
    Skeptical worries about moral responsibility seem to be widely appreciated and deeply felt. To address these worries—if nothing else to show that they are mistaken—theories of moral responsibility need to relate to whatever concept of responsibility underlies the worries. Unfortunately, the nature of that concept has proved hard to pin down. Not only do philosophers have conflicting intuitions; numerous recent empirical studies have suggested that both prosaic responsibility judgments and incomp…Read more
  •  782
    On individual and shared obligations: in defense of the activist’s perspective
    In Mark Budolfson, Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), Philosophy and Climate Change, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    We naturally attribute obligations to groups, and take such obligations to have consequences for the obligations of group members. The threat posed by anthropogenic climate change provides an urgent case. It seems that we, together, have an obligation to prevent climate catastrophe, and that we, as individuals, have an obligation to contribute. However, understood strictly, attributions of obligations to groups might seem illegitimate. On the one hand, the groups in question—the people alive tod…Read more
  •  764
    The Explanatory Component of Moral Responsibility
    with Karl Persson
    Noûs 46 (2): 326-354. 2012.
    In this paper, we do three things. First, we put forth a novel hypothesis about judgments of moral responsibility according to which such judgments are a species of explanatory judgments. Second, we argue that this hypothesis explains both some general features of everyday thinking about responsibility and the appeal of skeptical arguments against moral responsibility. Finally, we argue that, if correct, the hypothesis provides a defense against these skeptical arguments.
  •  726
    Many philosophers think that moral objectivism is supported by stable features of moral discourse and thinking. When engaged in moral reasoning and discourse, people behave ‘as if’ objectivism were correct, and the seemingly most straightforward way of making sense of this is to assume that objectivism is correct; this is how we think that such behavior is explained in paradigmatically objectivist domains. By comparison, relativist, error-theoretic or non-cognitivist accounts of this behavior se…Read more
  •  712
    Contextualism in Ethics
    In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Wiley-blackwell. forthcoming.
    There are various ways in which context matters in ethics. Most clearly, the context in which an action is performed might determine whether the action is morally right: though it is often wrong not to keep a promise, it might be permissible in certain contexts. More radically, proponents of moral particularism (see particularism) have argued that a reason for an action in one context is not guaranteed to be a reason in a different context: whether it is a reason against an act that it breaks a …Read more
  •  645
    Collective responsibility and collective obligations without collective moral agents
    In Saba Bazargan-Forward & Deborah Tollefsen (eds.), Handbook of Collective Responsibility, Routledge. forthcoming.
    It is commonplace to attribute obligations to φ or blameworthiness for φ-ing to groups even when no member has an obligation to φ or is individually blameworthy for not φ-ing. Such non-distributive attributions can seem problematic in cases where the group is not a moral agent in its own right. In response, it has been argued both that non-agential groups can have the capabilities requisite to have obligations of their own, and that group obligations can be understood in terms of moral demands o…Read more
  •  613
    Enoch’s Defense of Robust Meta-Ethical Realism
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 13 (1). 2016.
    Taking Morality Seriously is David Enoch’s book-length defense of meta-ethical and meta-normative non-naturalist realism. After describing Enoch’s position and outlining the argumentative strategy of the book, we engage in a critical discussion of what we take to be particularly problematic central passages. We focus on Enoch’s two original positive arguments for non-naturalist realism, one argument building on first order moral implications of different meta-ethical positions, the other attendi…Read more
  •  586
    Corporate Crocodile Tears? On the Reactive Attitudes of Corporate Agents
    with Kendy Hess
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2). 2017.
    Recently, a number of people have argued that certain entities embodied by groups of agents themselves qualify as agents, with their own beliefs, desires, and intentions; even, some claim, as moral agents. However, others have independently argued that fully-fledged moral agency involves a capacity for reactive attitudes such as guilt and indignation, and these capacities might seem beyond the ken of “collective” or “ corporate ” agents. Individuals embodying such agents can of course be ashamed…Read more
  •  569
    Motivational internalism and folk intuitions
    with John Eriksson, Caj Strandberg, Ragnar Francén Olinder, and Fredrik Björklund
    Philosophical Psychology 28 (5): 715-734. 2015.
    Motivational internalism postulates a necessary connection between moral judgments and motivation. In arguing for and against internalism, metaethicists traditionally appeal to intuitions about cases, but crucial cases often yield conflicting intuitions. One way to try to make progress, possibly uncovering theoretical bias and revealing whether people have conceptions of moral judgments required for noncognitivist accounts of moral disagreement, is to investigate non-philosophers' willingness to…Read more
  •  556
    Metaethical absolutism is the view that moral concepts have non-relative satisfaction conditions that are constant across judges and their particular beliefs, attitudes, and cultural embedding. If it is correct, there is an important sense in which parties of moral disputes are concerned to get the same things right, such that their disputes can be settled by the facts. If it is not correct, as various forms of relativism and non-cognitivism imply, such coordination of concerns will be limited. …Read more
  •  502
    It is generally agreed that constructions of the form “if P, Q” are capable of conveying a number of different relations between antecedent and consequent, with pragmatics playing a central role in determining these relations. Controversy concerns what the conventional contribution of the if-clause is, how it constrains the pragmatic processes, and what those processes are. In this essay, I begin to argue that the conventional contribution of if-clauses to semantics is exhausted by the fact that…Read more
  •  493
    Contextualism, assessor relativism, and insensitive assessments
    with Alexander Almér
    Logique Et Analyse 52 (208): 363-372. 2009.
    Recently, contextualism about epistemic modals and predicates of taste have come under fire from advocates of assessment relativistic analyses. Contextualism, they have argued, fails to account for what we call "felicitous insensitive assessments". In this paper, we provide one hitherto overlooked way in which contextualists can embrace the phenomenon by slightly modifying an assumption that has remained in the background in most of the debate over contextualism and relativism. Finally, we brief…Read more
  •  471
    The Pragmatics of Insensitive Assessments: Understanding The Relativity of Assessments of Judgments of Personal Taste, Epistemic Modals, and More
    with Alexander Almér
    The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 6 (1): 1-45. 2010.
    In assessing the veridicality of utterances, we normally seem to assess the satisfaction of conditions that the speaker had been concerned to get right in making the utterance. However, the debate about assessor-relativism about epistemic modals, predicates of taste, gradable adjectives and conditionals has been largely driven by cases in which seemingly felicitous assessments of utterances are insensitive to aspects of the context of utterance that were highly relevant to the speaker’s choice o…Read more
  •  465
    This paper introduces a new family of cases where agents are jointly morally responsible for outcomes over which they have no individual control, a family that resists standard ways of understanding outcome responsibility. First, the agents in these cases do not individually facilitate the outcomes and would not seem individually responsible for them if the other agents were replaced by non-agential causes. This undermines attempts to understand joint responsibility as overlapping individual res…Read more
  •  455
    Incompatibilism and "Bypassed" Agency
    In Alfred R. Mele (ed.), Surrounding Free Will, Oxford University Press. 2014.
    Eddy Nahmias and Dylan Murray have recently argued that when people take agents to lack responsibility in deterministic scenarios, they do so because they take agents’ beliefs, desires and decisions to be bypassed, having no effect on their actions. This might seem like an improbable mistake, but the Bypass Hypothesis is bolstered by intriguing experimental data. Moreover, if the hypothesis is correct, it provides a straightforward error theory for incompatibilist intuitions. This chapter argues…Read more
  •  453
    Recently, a number of authors have suggested that the epistemic condition on moral responsibility makes blameworthiness much less common than we ordinarily suppose, and much harder to identify. This paper argues that such epistemically based responsibility skepticism is mistaken. Section 2 sketches a general account of moral responsibility, building on the Strawsonian idea that blame and credit relates to the agent’s quality of will. Section 3 explains how this account deals with central cases t…Read more
  •  433
    The traditional metaethical distinction between cognitivist absolutism,on the one hand, and speaker relativism or noncognitivism, on the other,seemed both clear and important. On the former view, moral judgmentswould be true or false independently on whose judgments they were, andmoral disagreement might be settled by the facts. Not so on the latter views. But noncognitivists and relativists, following what Simon Blackburn has called a “quasi-realist” strategy, have come a long way inmaking sens…Read more
  •  430
    Normative Responsibilities: Structure and Sources
    In Kristien Hens, Dorothee Horstkötter & Daniela Cutas (eds.), Parental Responsibility in the Context of Neuroscience and Genetics, Springer. 2017.
    Attributions of what we shall call normative responsibilities play a central role in everyday moral thinking. It is commonly thought, for example, that parents are responsible for the wellbeing of their children, and that this has important normative consequences. Depending on context, it might mean that parents are morally required to bring their children to the doctor, feed them well, attend to their emotional needs, or to see to it that someone else does. Similarly, it is sometimes argued tha…Read more
  •  413
    If you believe in positive facts, you should believe in negative facts
    Hommage À Wlodek. Philosophical Papers Dedicated to Wlodek Rabinowicz. 2007.
    Substantial metaphysical theory has long struggled with the question of negative facts, facts capable of making it true that Valerie isn’t vigorous. This paper argues that there is an elegant solution to these problems available to anyone who thinks that there are positive facts. Bradley’s regress and considerations of ontological parsimony show that an object’s having a property is an affair internal to the object and the property, just as numerical identity and distinctness are internal to the…Read more
  •  386
    Despite recent efforts to improve on counterfactual theories of causation, failures to explain how effects depend on their causes are still manifest in a variety of cases. In particular, theories that do a decent job explaining cases of causal preemption have problems accounting for cases of causal intransitivity. Moreover, the increasing complexity of the counterfactual accounts makes it difficult to see why the concept of causation would be such a central part of our cognition. In this paper, …Read more
  •  363
    Internalists Beware—we Might all be Amoralists!
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (1). 2013.
    Standard motivational internalism is the claim that by a priori or conceptual necessity, a psychological state is a moral opinion only if it is suitably related to moral motivation. Many philosophers, the authors of this paper included, have assumed that this claim is supported by intuitions to the effect that amoralists?people not suitably related to such motivation?lack moral opinions proper. In this paper we argue that this assumption is mistaken, seeming plausible only because defenders of s…Read more
  •  362
    Free Will Skepticism and Bypassing
    In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, Vol. 4, Mit Press. 2014.
    Discusses Eddy Nahmias' “Is Free Will an Illusion?”
  •  342
    Essentially Shared Obligations
    Midwest Studies in Philosophy 38 (1): 103-120. 2014.
    This paper lists a number of puzzles for shared obligations – puzzles about the role of individual influence, individual reasons to contribute towards fulfilling the obligation, about what makes someone a member of a group sharing an obligation, and the relation between agency and obligation – and proposes to solve them based on a general analysis of obligations. On the resulting view, shared obligations do not presuppose joint agency.
  •  337
    Determinism and attributions of consciousness
    Philosophical Psychology 33 (4): 549-568. 2020.
    The studies we report indicate that it is possible to manipulate explicit ascriptions of consciousness by manipulating whether an agent’s behavior is deterministically caused. In addition, we explore whether this impact of determinism on consciousness is direct, or mediated by notions linked to agency – notions like moral responsibility, free will, deliberate choice, and sensitivity to moral reasons. We provide evidence of mediation. This result extends work on attributions of consciousness and …Read more
  •  299
    Recent work in experimental philosophy shows that folk intuitions about moral responsibility are sensitive to a surprising variety of factors. Whether people take agents to be responsible for their actions in deterministic scenarios depends on whether the deterministic laws are couched in neurological or psychological terms (Nahmias et. al. 2007), on whether actions are described abstractly or concretely, and on how serious moral transgression they seem to represent (Nichols & Knobe 2007). Final…Read more