•  682
    Adaptive preference
    Social Theory and Practice 33 (1): 105-126. 2007.
    I argue, first, that the deprived individuals whose predicaments Nussbaum cites as examples of "adaptive preference" do not in fact prefer the conditions of their lives to what we should regard as more desirable alternatives, indeed that we believe they are badly off precisely because they are not living the lives they would prefer to live if they had other options and were aware of them. Secondly, I argue that even where individuals in deprived circumstances acquire tastes for conditions that w…Read more
  •  304
    The Experience Machine Deconstructed
    Philosophy in the Contemporary World 15 (1): 133-138. 2008.
    Nozick’s Experience Machine thought experiment is generally taken to make a compelling, if not conclusive, case against philosophical hedonism. I argue that it does not and, indeed, that regardless of the results, it cannot provide any reason to accept or reject either hedonism or any other philosophical account of wellbeing since it presupposes preferentism, the desire-satisfaction account ofwellbeing. Preferentists cannot take any comfort from the results of such thought experiments because th…Read more
  •  233
    The real presence
    Religious Studies 49 (1): 19-33. 2013.
    The doctrine that Christ is really present in the Eucharist appears to entail that Christ's body is not only multiply located but present in different ways at different locations. Moreover, the doctrine poses an even more difficult meta-question: what makes a theological explanation of the Eucharist a ‘real presence’ account? Aquinas's defence of transubstantiation, perhaps the paradigmatic account, invokes Aristotelian metaphysics and the machinery of Scholastic philosophy. My aim is not to pro…Read more
  •  233
    Women in the labor force are at a disadvantage not only because of continuing discrimination in hiring and promotion, but because of factors extrinsic to the labor market hence adjusting conditions within the labor market will not completely eliminate women's disadvantage. Because, unlike most men, most women do not have spouses to take on the major responsibility of running their homes and caring for their children, the costs of working outside the home, particularly in a professional or manage…Read more
  •  220
    Eucharist: metaphysical miracle or institutional fact?
    International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 74 (3): 333-352. 2013.
    Presence as ordinarily understood requires spatio-temporal proximity. If however Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is understood in this way it would take a miracle to secure multiple location and an additional miracle to cover it up so that the presence of Christ where the Eucharist was celebrated made no empirical difference. And, while multiple location is logically possible, such metaphysical miracles—miracles of distinction without difference, which have no empirical import—are problematic…Read more
  •  160
    Worlds, Capabilities and Well-Being
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (4): 377-392. 2010.
    Critics suggest that without some "objective" account of well-being we cannot explain why satisfying some preferences is, as we believe, better than satisfying others, why satisfying some preferences may leave us on net worse off or why, in a range of cases, we should reject life-adjustment in favor of life-improvement. I defend a subjective welfarist understanding of well-being against such objections by reconstructing the Amartya Sen's capability approach as a preferentist account of well-bein…Read more
  •  118
    The Market for Feminist Epistemology
    The Monist 77 (4): 403-423. 1994.
    At first blush, the notion a “feminist epistemology” appears, at best, peculiar—not, as Sandra Harding suggests, because “‘woman the knower’ appears to be a contradiction in terms” but because it is hard to see how an epistemology, a philosophical theory of knowledge, can be either feminist or anti-feminist since it is not clear how such a theory might benefit or harm women.
  •  100
    Is homosexuality sexuality?
    Theology 107 (837): 169-183. 2004.
    I argue on utilitarian grounds that while traditional constraints on heterosexual activity, including the prohibition of pre-marital sex and divorce may be justified by appeal to purely secular principles, no comparable prohibitions are justified as regards homosexual activity. Homosexuality is in this respect
  •  91
    The ethics of dwarf-tossing
    International Journal of Applied Philosophy 4 (4): 1-5. 1989.
  •  81
    Trinity, filioque and semantic ascent
    Sophia 47 (2): 149-160. 2008.
    It is difficult to reconcile claims about the Father's role as the progenitor of Trinitarian Persons with commitment to the equality of the persons, a problem that is especially acute for Social Trinitarians. I propose a metatheological account of the doctrine of the Trinity that facilitates the reconciliation of these two claims. On the proposed account, ‘Father’ is systematically ambiguous. Within economic contexts, those which characterize God's relation to the world, ‘Father’ refers to the F…Read more
  •  79
    Native wisdom
    The Philosophers' Magazine 24 (24): 23-24. 2003.
  •  77
    In defence of proselytizing
    Religious Studies 36 (3): 333-344. 2000.
    In Ethics in the Sanctuary, Margaret Battin argues that traditional evangelism, directed to promoting religious belief, practice, and affiliation, that is proselytizing, is morally questionable to the extent that it involves unwarranted paternalism in the interests of securing other-worldly benefits for potential converts. I argue that Christian evangelism is justified in order to make the this-worldly benefits of religious belief and practice available to everyone, to bring about an increase in…Read more
  •  66
    Is Utilitarianism Bad for Women?
    Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 3 (4). 2017.
    Open access: Philosophers and policy-makers concerned with the ethics, economics, and politics of development argue that the phenomenon of “adaptive preference” makes preference-utilitarian measures of well-being untenable. Poor women in the Global South, they suggest, adapt to deprivation and oppression and may come to prefer states of affairs that are not conducive to flourishing. This critique, however, assumes a questionable understanding of preference utilitarianism and, more fundamentally,…Read more
  •  64
    The Trinity
    Faith and Philosophy 32 (2): 161-171. 2015.
    Prima facie, relative identity looks like a perfect fit for the doctrine of the Trinity since it allows us to say that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each of which is a Trinitarian Person, are the same God but not the same Person. Nevertheless, relative identity solutions to logic puzzles concerning the doctrine of the Trinity have not, in recent years, been much pursued. Critics worry that relative identity accounts are unintuitive, uninformative or unintelligible. I suggest that the relative…Read more
  •  63
    Ideologues of the American Dream doctrine assume that state intervention aimed at providing social safety nets for citizens and reducing economic inequality, restricts freedom and undermines individual opportunity. This assumption is the result of empirical misinformation and, more fundamentally, a conceptual mistake. Robust empirical data indicate that economic equality, far from stifling initiative or undermining opportunity, is conducive to social mobility.
  •  61
    Thinking clearly about death
    with John Donnelly
    Philosophia 16 (1): 79-93. 1986.
  •  59
    Abba, Father: Inclusive Language and Theological Salience
    Faith and Philosophy 16 (3): 423-432. 1999.
    Questions about the use of “inclusive language” in Christian discourse are trivial but the discussion which surrounds them raises an exceedingly important question, namely that of whether gender is theologically salient-whether Christian doctrine either reveals theologically significant differences between men and women or prescribes different roles for them. Arguably both conservative support for sex roles and allegedly progressive doctrines about the theological significance of gender, race, e…Read more
  •  55
    Almost indiscernible twins
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (2): 365-382. 1992.
    identity, indiscernibility, Adams
  •  54
    Presence as ordinarily understood requires spatio-temporal proximity. If however Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is understood as spatio-temporal proximity it would take a miracle to secure multiple location and an additional miracle to cover it up so that the presence of Christ wherever the Eucharist was celebrated made no empirical difference. And, while multiple location is logically possible, such metaphysical miracles—miracles of distinction without difference, which have no empirical im…Read more
  •  54
    Gender conscious
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 18 (1). 2001.
    members of minorities to divest themselves of features of their “identities” in order to approx- imate to a restrictive white male ideal which, they hold, should not be a requirement for fair treatment and social benefits. I argue that this concern is unwarranted and that “Integration” with respect to gender, as I shall understand it, is overall more conducive to the happiness of both men and women than what I shall call “Diversity”
  •  47
    Whatever floats your boat..
    The Philosophers' Magazine 33 (33): 33-36. 2006.
  •  46
    The doctrine of the Trinity developed in response to a range of theological interests, among them the project of reconciling claims about the divinity of Christ with monotheism and massaging Christian doctrine into the ambient (largely Platonic) philosophical framework of the period. More recently the Trinity doctrine has been deployed to promote normative claims concerning human nature, human relationships and social justice. During the past two decades analytic philosophers of religion have in…Read more
  •  44
    Berkeley and the Tattletale’s Paradox
    Idealistic Studies 19 (1): 79-82. 1989.
    A certain familiar but “deep” joke, which might be called “The Tattletale’s Paradox,” embodies a logical confusion that figures crucially in some discussions of substantive philosophical issues. “I can’t tell you the secret,” it runs, “because if I did it wouldn’t be a secret.” It is easy enough to detect the trick involved here: to tell a secret is not to make known a piece of information that is a secret at the time that it is revealed, but rather to tell a story which was a secret but ceases …Read more
  •  43
    Currently a number of feminists in philosophy and religious studies as well as other academic disciplines have argued that policies, practices and doctrines assumed to be sexneutral are in fact male-biased. Thus, Rosemary Reuther, reflecting on the development of theology in the Judeo-Christian tradition suggests that the long-term exclusion of women from leadership and theological education has rendered the “official theological culture” repressive to women and dismissive of women’s experience:…Read more
  •  38
    Preferentism is the doctrine that "in deciding what is good and what is bad for a given individual, the ultimate criterion can only be his own wants and his own preferences." If preferentism is true then it would seem to follow that modifying a person's preferences so that they are satisfied by what is on offer should be as good as improving the circumstances of her life to satisfy her preferences. Our intuitive response to stories of life-adjustment through brainwashing, psychosurgery and the l…Read more
  •  36
    There appear to be at least two important disanalogies between the situation of women and that of racial and ethnic minorities whose members are generally regarded as paradigmatic victims of oppression. First, in the case of oppressed racial and ethnic minorities it is relatively easy to identify the oppressors and the policies which serve to keep the oppressed in their place; it is not so easy to determine who the oppressors of women are--surely men are not universally blameworthy--nor even to …Read more
  •  36
    Whatever floats your boat..
    The Philosophers' Magazine 33 33-36. 2006.
  •  34
    Rethinking Identity and Metaphysics (review)
    International Philosophical Quarterly 38 (3): 338-339. 1998.
  •  32
    In Spring 2008 I went textbook-free. I linked all and only the readings for my Contemporary Analytic Philosophy course to the class website, along with powerpoints, handouts and external links to online resources.