•  101
    Taking Prudence Seriously
    In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics: volume 14, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    Philosophers have long theorised about which things make people’s lives go well (and why) and the extent to which morality and self-interest can be reconciled. By contrast, we have spent little time on meta-prudential questions, questions about prudential discourse. This is surprising given that prudence is, prima facie, a normative form of discourse and, as such, cries out for further investigation of how exactly it functions and whether it has problematic commitments. It also marks a stark con…Read more
  •  12
    Against Contextualism about Prudential Discourse
    Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
    In recent times, there has been a surge of interest in, and enthusiasm for, contextualist views about prudential discourse — thought and talk about what has prudential value or contributes to someone’s well-being. In this paper I examine and reject two cases for radical forms of prudential contextualism, proposed by Anna Alexandrova and Steve Campbell. Alexandrova holds that the semantic content of terms like ‘well-being’ and ‘doing well’ varies across contexts. Campbell proposes that there are …Read more
  •  95
    Needing and Necessity
    In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Oxford University Press. pp. 170-192. 2018.
    Claims about needs are a ubiquitous feature of everyday practical discourse. It is therefore unsurprising that needs have long been a topic of interest in moral philosophy, applied ethics, and political philosophy. Philosophers have devoted much time and energy to developing theories of the nature of human needs and the like. Philosophers working on needs are typically committed to the idea that there are different kinds of needs and that within the different kinds of needs is a privileged class…Read more
  •  79
    Pain for the Moral Error Theory? A New Companions-in-Guilt Argument
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (3): 474-482. 2018.
    The moral error theorist claims that moral discourse is irredeemably in error because it is committed to the existence of properties that do not exist. A common response has been to postulate ‘companions in guilt’—forms of discourse that seem safe from error despite sharing the putatively problematic features of moral discourse. The most developed instance of this pairs moral discourse with epistemic discourse. In this paper, I present a new, prudential, companions-in-guilt argument and argue fo…Read more
  •  77
    Moral Testimony: Once More With Feeling
    In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics: volume 11, Oxford University Press. 2016.
    It is commonly claimed that reliance upon moral testimony is problematic in a way not common to reliance upon non-moral testimony. This chapter provides a new explanation of what the problem consists in—one that enjoys advantages over the most widely accepted explanation in the extant literature (in short, that moral deference undermines moral worth). The main theses of the chapter are as follows: (1) that many forms of normative deference beyond the moral are problematic (including aesthetic an…Read more
  •  208
    Well-being occupies a central role in ethics and political philosophy, including in major theories such as utilitarianism. It also extends far beyond philosophy: recent studies into the science and psychology of well-being have propelled the topic to centre stage, and governments spend millions on promoting it. We are encouraged to adopt modes of thinking and behaviour that support individual well-being or 'wellness'. What is well-being? Which theories of well-being are most plausible? In this r…Read more
  •  2
    Guy Fletcher on the problem of recognizing the good life.
  •  14
    Philosophy for Everyone begins by explaining what philosophy is before exploring the questions and issues at the foundation of this important subject. Key topics in this new edition and their areas of focus include: Moral philosophy – the nature of our moral judgments and reactions, whether they aim at some objective moral truth, or are mere personal or cultural preferences; and the possibility of moral responsibility given the sorts of things that cause behavior; Political philosophy – fundamen…Read more
  •  2019
    This chapter is divided into three parts. First I outline what makes something an objective list theory of well-being. I then go on to look at the motivations for holding such a view before turning to objections to these theories of well-being.
  •  128
    This paper examines implicaturist hybrid theories by examining how closely attitude expression by moral utterances fits with the varieties of implicature (conventional, particular conversational, generalized conversational) using five standard criteria for implicature: indeterminacy (§3), reinforceability (§4), non-detachability (§5), cancellability (§6), and calculability (§7). I argue (1) that conventional implicature is a clear non-starter as a model of attitude expression by moral utterances…Read more
  •  380
    The concept of well-being is one of the oldest and most important topics in philosophy and ethics, going back to ancient Greek philosophy and Aristotle. Following the boom in happiness studies in the last few years it has moved to centre stage, grabbing media headlines and the attention of scientists, psychologists and economists. Yet little is actually known about well-being and it is an idea often poorly articulated. The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Well-Being provides a comprehensive, …Read more
  •  239
    Hybrid Views in Meta‐ethics: Pragmatic Views
    Philosophy Compass 9 (12): 848-863. 2014.
    A common starting point for ‘going hybrid’ is the thought that moral discourse somehow combines belief and desire-like aspects, or is both descriptive and expressive. Hybrid meta-ethical theories aim to give an account of moral discourse that is sufficiently sensitive to both its cognitive and its affective, or descriptive and expressive, dimensions. They hold at least one of the following: moral thought: moral judgements have belief and desire-like aspects or elements; moral language: moral utt…Read more
  •  25
    Having It Both Ways: Hybrid Theories and Modern Metaethics (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2014.
    In twelve new essays, contributors explore hybrid theories in metaethics and other normative domains.
  •  1480
    So-called theories of well-being (prudential value, welfare) are under-represented in discussions of well-being. I do four things in this article to redress this. First, I develop a new taxonomy of theories of well-being, one that divides theories in a more subtle and illuminating way. Second, I use this taxonomy to undermine some misconceptions that have made people reluctant to hold objective-list theories. Third, I provide a new objective-list theory and show that it captures a powerful motiv…Read more
  •  254
    Resisting buck-passing accounts of prudential value
    Philosophical Studies 157 (1): 77-91. 2012.
    This paper aims to cast doubt upon a certain way of analysing prudential value (or good for ), namely in the manner of a ‘buck-passing’ analysis. It begins by explaining why we should be interested in analyses of good for and the nature of buck-passing analyses generally (§I). It moves on to considering and rejecting two sets of buck-passing analyses. The first are analyses that are likely to be suggested by those attracted to the idea of analysing good for in a buck-passing fashion (§II). The s…Read more
  •  308
    The Locative Analysis of Good For Formulated and Defended
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (JESP) 6 (1): 1-27. 2012.
    THE STRUCTURE OF THIS PAPER IS AS FOLLOWS. I begin §1 by dealing with preliminary issues such as the different relations expressed by the “good for” locution. I then (§2) outline the Locative Analysis of good for and explain its main elements before moving on to (§3) outlining and discussing the positive features of the view. In the subsequent sections I show how the Locative Analysis can respond to objections from, or inspired by, Sumner (§4-5), Regan (§6), and Schroeder and Feldman (§7). I the…Read more
  •  138
    Brown and Moore's value invariabilism vs Dancy's variabilism
    Philosophical Quarterly 60 (238): 162-168. 2010.
    Campbell Brown has recently argued that G.E. Moore's intrinsic value holism is superior to Jonathan Dancy's. I show that the advantage which Brown claims for Moore's view over Dancy's is illusory, and that Dancy's view may be superior.
  •  361
    Rejecting Well-Being Invariabilism
    Philosophical Papers 38 (1): 21-34. 2009.
    This paper is an attempt to undermine a basic assumption of theories of well-being, one that I call well-being invariabilism. I argue that much of what makes existing theories of well-being inadequate stems from the invariabilist assumption. After distinguishing and explaining well-being invariabilism and well-being variabilism, I show that the most widely-held theories of well-being—hedonism, desire-satisfaction, and pluralist objective-list theories—presuppose invariabilism and that a large cl…Read more
  •  150
  •  635
    Anyone familiar with Richard Kraut's work in ancient philosophy will be excited to see him putting aside the dusty tomes of the ancients and delving into ethics first-hand. He does not disappoint. His book is a lucid and wide-ranging discussion that provides at least the core of an ethical theory and an appealing set of answers to a range of ethical questions.Kraut aims to provide an alternative to utilitarianism that preserves the good-centred nature of that theory. He claims that all justifica…Read more
  •  68
    On Hatzimoysis on sentimental value
    Philosophia 37 (1): 149-152. 2009.
    Despite its apparent ubiquity, philosophers have not talked much about sentimental value. One exception is Anthony Hatzimoysis (The Philosophical Quarterly 53:373–379, 2003). Those who wish to take sentimental value seriously are likely to make use of Christine Korsgaard’s ideas on two distinctions in value. In this paper I show that Hatzimoysis has misrendered Korsgaard’s insight in his discussion of sentimental value. I begin by briefly summarising Korsgaard’s idea before showing how Hatzimoys…Read more
  •  845
  •  870
    Mill, Moore, and Intrinsic Value
    Social Theory and Practice 34 (4): 517-32. 2008.
    In this paper, I examine how philosophers before and after G. E. Moore understood intrinsic value. The main idea I wish to bring out and defend is that Moore was insufficiently attentive to how distinctive his conception of intrinsic value was, as compared with those of the writers he discussed, and that such inattentiveness skewed his understanding of the positions of others that he discussed and dismissed. My way into this issue is by examining the charge of inconsistency that Moore levels at …Read more
  •  304
    Variable versus fixed-rate rule-utilitarianism
    Philosophical Quarterly 58 (231). 2008.
    Fixed-rate versions of rule-consequentialism and rule-utilitarianism evaluate rules in terms of the expected net value of one particular level of social acceptance, but one far enough below 100% social acceptance to make salient the complexities created by partial compliance. Variable-rate versions of rule-consequentialism and rule-utilitarianism instead evaluate rules in terms of their expected net value at all different levels of social acceptance. Brad Hooker has advocated a fixed-rate versio…Read more
  •  307
    In this article, I examine two of the standard objections to forms of value hedonism. The first is the common claim, most famously made by Bradley and Moore, that Mill's qualitative hedonism is inconsistent. The second is the apparent problem for quantitative hedonism in dealing with malicious pleasures. I argue that qualitative hedonism is consistent, even if it is implausible on other grounds. I then go on to show how our intuitions about malicious pleasure might be misleading.