•  10157
    In her recent paper ‘The Epistemology of Propaganda’ Rachel McKinnon discusses what she refers to as ‘TERF propaganda’. We take issue with three points in her paper. The first is her rejection of the claim that ‘TERF’ is a misogynistic slur. The second is the examples she presents as commitments of so-called ‘TERFs’, in order to establish that radical (and gender critical) feminists rely on a flawed ideology. The third is her claim that standpoint epistemology can be used to establish that suc…Read more
  •  2836
    The central question of the paper is: do women have the right to exclude transwomen from women-only spaces? First I argue that biological sex matters politically, and should be protected legally—at least until such a time as there is no longer sex discrimination. Then I turn to the rationales for women-only spaces, arguing that there are eight independent rationales that together overdetermine the moral justification for maintaining particular spaces as women-only. I address a package of spaces,…Read more
  •  2332
    Understanding Political Feasibility
    Journal of Political Philosophy 21 (3): 243-259. 2013.
  •  1763
  •  1443
    Climate change appears to be a classic aggregation problem, in which billions of individuals perform actions none of which seem to be morally wrong taken in isolation, and yet which combine to drive the global concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) ever higher toward environmental (and humanitarian) catastrophe. When an individual can choose between actions that will emit differing amounts of GHGs―such as to choose a vegan rather than carnivorous meal, to ride a bike to work rather than drive …Read more
  •  1253
    Ending Sex-Based Oppression: Transitional Pathways
    Philosophia 49 (3): 1021-1041. 2020.
    From a radical feminist perspective, gender is a cage. Or to be more precise, it’s two cages. If genders are cages, then surely we want to let people out. Being less constrained in our choices is something we all have reason to want: theorists in recent years have emphasized the importance of the capability to do and be many different things. At the very least, we should want an end to sex-based oppression. But what does this entail, when it comes to gender? In this paper, I’ll compare four ‘tra…Read more
  •  1251
    The Feasibility of Collectives' Actions
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3): 453-467. 2012.
    Does ?ought? imply ?can? for collectives' obligations? In this paper I want to establish two things. The first, what a collective obligation means for members of the collective. The second, how collective ability can be ascertained. I argue that there are four general kinds of obligation, which devolve from collectives to members in different ways, and I give an account of the distribution of obligation from collectives to members for each of these kinds. One implication of understanding collect…Read more
  •  1233
    The Motivation Question: Arguments from Justice, and from Humanity
    British Journal of Political Science 42 661-678. 2012.
    Which of the two dominant arguments for duties to alleviate global poverty, supposing their premises were generally accepted, would be more likely to produce their desired outcome? I take Pogge's argument for obligations grounded in principles of justice, a "contribution" argument, and Campbell's argument for obligations grounded in principles of humanity, an "assistance" argument, to be prototypical. Were people to accept the premises of Campbell's argument, how likely would they be to support …Read more
  •  869
    Trashing and Tribalism in the Gender Wars
    In Noell Birondo (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Hate, Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 207-233. 2022.
    In 1976, Jo Freeman wrote an article for Ms. Magazine, entitled ‘Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood’. It provoked an outpouring of letters from women relating their own experiences of trashing during the course of the second wave feminist movement—more letters than Ms. had received about any previous article. Since then, the technology has improved but the climate among feminists has not; trashing is now conducted on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, in front of ever-larger au…Read more
  •  773
    Collectives’ and individuals’ obligations: a parity argument
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (1): 38-58. 2016.
    Individuals have various kinds of obligations: keep promises, don’t cause harm, return benefits received from injustices, be partial to loved ones, help the needy and so on. How does this work for group agents? There are two questions here. The first is whether groups can bear the same kinds of obligations as individuals. The second is whether groups’ pro tanto obligations plug into what they all-things-considered ought to do to the same degree that individuals’ pro tanto obligations plug into w…Read more
  •  744
    The Transfer of Duties: From Individuals to States and Back Again
    In Michael Brady & Miranda Fricker (eds.), The Epistemic Life of Groups, Oxford University Press. pp. 150-172. 2016.
    Individuals sometimes pass their duties on to collectives, which is one way in which collectives can come to have duties. The collective discharges its duties by acting through its members, which involves distributing duties back out to individuals. Individuals put duties in and get (transformed) duties out. In this paper we consider whether (and if so, to what extent) this general account can make sense of states' duties. Do some of the duties we typically take states to have come from individu…Read more
  •  740
    The Importance of Being Earnest, and the Difficulty of Faking It
    In M. Baurmann, G. Brennan, R. Goodin & N. Southwood (eds.), Norms and Values, Nomos Verlag. 2010.
  •  712
    Non-Ideal Accessibility
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3): 653-669. 2013.
    What should we do when we won't do as we ought? Suppose it ought to be that the procrastinating professor accept the task of reviewing a book, and actually review the book. It seems clear that given he won't review it, he ought not to accept the task. That is a genuine moral obligation in light of less than perfect circumstances. I want to entertain the possibility that a set of such obligations form something like a 'practical morality'; that which we ought to do given that we're unlikely or un…Read more
  •  684
    Unethical Consumption & Obligations to Signal
    Ethics and International Affairs 29 (3): 315-330. 2015.
    Many of the items that humans consume are produced in ways that involve serious harms to persons. Familiar examples include the harms involved in the extraction and trade of conflict minerals (e.g. coltan, diamonds), the acquisition and import of non- fair trade produce (e.g. coffee, chocolate, bananas, rice), and the manufacture of goods in sweatshops (e.g. clothing, sporting equipment). In addition, consumption of certain goods (significantly fossil fuels and the products of the agricultural i…Read more
  •  676
    Debate: Ideal Theory—A Reply to Valentini
    Journal of Political Philosophy 18 (3): 357-368. 2010.
    In her ‘On the apparent paradox of ideal theory’, Laura Valentini combines three supposedly plausible premises to derive the paradoxical result that ideal theory is both unable to, and indispensable for, guiding action. Her strategy is to undermine one of the three premises by arguing that there are good and bad kinds of ideal theory, and only the bad kinds are vulnerable to the strongest version of their opponents’ attack. By undermining one of the three premises she releases ideal theorists fr…Read more
  •  675
    Benefiting from Failures to Address Climate Change
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 31 (4): 392-404. 2014.
    The politics of climate change is marked by the fact that countries are dragging their heels in doing what they ought to do; namely, creating a binding global treaty, and fulfilling the duties assigned to each of them under it. Many different agents are culpable in this failure. But we can imagine a stylised version of the climate change case, in which no agents are culpable: if the bad effects of climate change were triggered only by crossing a particular threshold, and it was reasonably, but m…Read more
  •  587
    Peter Corning: The Fair Society: The science of human nature and the pursuit of social justice Content Type Journal Article Category Review Essay Pages 1-8 DOI 10.1007/s10539-011-9304-0 Authors Holly Lawford-Smith, Centre for Applied Ethics and Public Philosophy, Charles Sturt University, Canberra, Australia Journal Biology and Philosophy Online ISSN 1572-8404 Print ISSN 0169-3867
  •  539
    The Metaphysics of Intersectionality Revisited
    with Kate Phelan
    Journal of Political Philosophy 30 (2): 166-187. 2022.
    ‘Intersectionality’ is one of the rare pieces of academic jargon to make it out of the university and into the mainstream. The message is clear and well-known: your feminism had better be intersectional. But what exactly does this mean? This paper is partly an exercise in conceptual clarification, distinguishing at least six distinct types of claim found across the literature on intersectionality, and digging further into the most philosophically complex of these claims—namely the metaphysical a…Read more
  •  515
    In Christian Barry & Holly Lawford-Smith (eds.), Global Justice, Ashgate. 2012.
    This volume brings together a range of influential essays by distinguished philosophers and political theorists on the issue of global justice. Global justice concerns the search for ethical norms that should govern interactions between people, states, corporations and other agents acting in the global arena, as well as the design of social institutions that link them together. The volume includes articles that engage with major theoretical questions such as the applicability of the ideals of so…Read more
  •  279
    On Satisfying Duties to Assist
    In Hilary Greaves & Theron Pummer (eds.), Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues, Oxford University Press. 2019.
    In this paper, we take up the question of whether there comes a point at which one is no longer morally obliged to do further good, even at very low cost to oneself. More specifically, they ask: under precisely what conditions is it plausible to say that that “point” has been reached? A crude account might focus only on, say, the amount of good the agent has already done, but a moment’s reflection shows that this is indeed too crude. We develop and defend a nuanced account according to which con…Read more
  •  235
    We the People: Is the Polity the State?
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (1): 78-97. 2021.
    When a liberal-democratic state signs a treaty or wages a war, does its whole polity do those things? In this article, we approach this question via the recent social ontological literature on collective agency. We provide arguments that it does and that it does not. The arguments are presented via three considerations: the polity's control over what the state does; the polity's unity; and the influence of individual polity members. We suggest that the answer to our question differs for differen…Read more
  •  231
    Juha Räikkä, Social Justice in Practice
    Journal of Value Inquiry 1-6. 2014.
    Imagine yourself standing on the edge of a canyon, marveling at the terrain below, wondering about all the sights currently obscured from your view, and lamenting that you just don’t have time to commit to the steep descent in and long trek across, which would give you a perspective from right up close. Being handed Juha Räikkä’s new book Social Justice in Practice is like being told there’s a flying fox you can take: the canyon is applied political theory, and the flying fox allows the reader t…Read more
  •  213
    What 'we'?
    Journal of Social Ontology 1 (2): 225-250. 2015.
    The objective of this paper is to explain why certain authors - both popular and academic - are making a mistake when they attribute obligations to uncoordinated groups of persons, and to argue that it is particularly unhelpful to make this mistake given the prevalence of individuals faced with the difficult question of what morality requires of them in a situation in which there's a good they can bring about together with others, but not alone. I'll defend two alternatives to attributing obliga…Read more
  •  153
    Offsetting Race Privilege
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 11 (2): 1-23. 2017.
    For all the talk there has been lately about privilege, few have commented on the moral obligations that are associated with having privilege. Those who have commented haven't gone much beyond the idea that the privileged should be conscious of their privilege, should listen to those who don't have it. Here we want to go further, and build an account of the moral obligations of those with a particular kind of privilege: race privilege. In this paper we articulate an understanding of race privile…Read more
  •  113
    Offsetting Class Privilege
    Journal of Practical Ethics 4 (1): 23-51. 2016.
    The UK is an unequal society. Societies like these raise significant ethical questions for those who live in them. One is how they should respond to such inequality, and in particular, to its effects on those who are worst-off. In this article, I’ll approach this question by focusing on the obligations of a particular group of those who are best-off. I’ll defend the idea of morally objectionable class-based advantage, which I’ll call ‘class privilege’, argue that class privilege can be non-culpa…Read more
  •  113
    Do consumers’ ordinary actions of purchasing certain goods make them complicit in global labour injustice? To establish that they do, two things much be shown. First, it must be established that they are not more than complicit, for example that they are not the principal perpetrators. Second, it must be established that they meet the conditions for complicity on a plausible account. I argue that Kutz’s account faces an objection that makes Lepora and Goodin’s better suited, and defend the idea …Read more
  •  77
    Climate Matters Pro Tanto, Does It Matter All-Things-Considered?
    Midwest Studies in Philosophy 40 (1): 129-142. 2016.
    In Climate Matters (2012), John Broome argues that individuals have private duties to offset all emissions for which they are causally responsible, grounded in the general moral injunction against doing harm. Emissions do harm, therefore they must be neutralized. I argue that individuals' private duties to offset emissions cannot be grounded in a duty to do no harm, because there can be no such general duty. It is virtually impossible in our current social context―for those in developed countrie…Read more