•  796
    For-Profit Business as Civic Virtue
    Journal of Business Ethics 106 (3): 313-324. 2012.
    According to the commonsense view of civic virtue, the places to exercise civic virtue are largely restricted to politics. In this article, I argue for a more expansive view of civic virtue, and argue that one can exercise civic virtue equally well through working for or running a for-profit business. I argue that this conclusion follows from four relatively uncontroversial premises: (1) the consensus definition of “civic virtue”, (2) the standard, most popular theory of virtuous activity, (3) a…Read more
  •  657
    Scepticism about philosophy
    Ratio 23 (1): 1-16. 2010.
    Suppose a person who is agnostic about most philosophical issues wishes to have true philosophical beliefs but equally wishes to avoid false philosophical beliefs. I argue that this truth-seeking, error-avoiding agnostic would not have good grounds for pursuing philosophy. Widespread disagreement shows that pursuing philosophy is not a reliable method of discovering true answers to philosophical questions. More likely than not, pursuing philosophy leads to false belief. Many attempts to rebut th…Read more
  •  520
    The right to a competent electorate
    Philosophical Quarterly 61 (245): 700-724. 2011.
    The practice of unrestricted universal suffrage is unjust. Citizens have a right that any political power held over them should be exercised by competent people in a competent way. Universal suffrage violates this right. To satisfy this right, universal suffrage in most cases must be replaced by a moderate epistocracy, in which suffrage is restricted to citizens of sufficient political competence. Epistocracy itself seems to fall foul of the qualified acceptability requirement, that political po…Read more
  •  377
    Markets without Symbolic Limits
    with Peter Martin Jaworski
    Ethics 125 (4): 1053-1077. 2015.
    Semiotic objections to commodification hold that buying and selling certain goods and services is wrong because of what market exchange communicates or because it violates the meaning of certain goods, services, and relationships. We argue that such objections fail. The meaning of markets and of money is a contingent, socially constructed fact. Cultures often impute meaning to markets in harmful, socially destructive, or costly ways. Rather than semiotic objections giving us reason to judge cert…Read more
  •  308
    Polluting the Polls: When Citizens Should Not Vote
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (4): 535-549. 2009.
    Just because one has the right to vote does not mean just any vote is right. Citizens should not vote badly. This duty to avoid voting badly is grounded in a general duty not to engage in collectively harmful activities when the personal cost of restraint is low. Good governance is a public good. Bad governance is a public bad. We should not be contributing to public bads when the benefit to ourselves is low. Many democratic theorists agree that we shouldn’t vote badly, but that’s because t…Read more
  •  253
    Tuck on the Rationality of Voting: A Critical Note
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 3 (3): 1-5. 2009.
    This paper argues that Richard Tuck, in his book Free Riding, fails to show it is rational to vote except in unusual cases.
  •  222
    Political liberty: Who needs it?
    Social Philosophy and Policy 29 (1): 1-27. 2012.
    Research Articles Jason Brennan, Social Philosophy and Policy, FirstView Article
  •  220
    Classical Liberalism
    with John Tomasi
    In David Estlund (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy, Oxford University Press, Usa. pp. 115. 2012.
  •  192
    A libertarian case for mandatory vaccination
    Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (1): 37-43. 2018.
    This paper argues that mandatory, government-enforced vaccination can be justified even within a libertarian political framework. If so, this implies that the case for mandatory vaccination is very strong indeed as it can be justified even within a framework that, at first glance, loads the philosophical dice against that conclusion. I argue that people who refuse vaccinations violate the ‘clean hands principle’, a moral principle that prohibits people from participating in the collective imposi…Read more
  •  181
    The Ethics of Voting
    Princeton Univ Pr. 2011.
    In this provocative book, Jason Brennan challenges our fundamental assumptions about voting, revealing why it is not a duty for most citizens--in fact, he ...
  •  157
    The above-mentioned article was published online with an incorrect title. The correct title reads “Does the Demographic Objection to Epistocracy Succeed?”
  •  155
    Free will in the Block universe
    Philosophia 35 (2): 207-217. 2007.
    Carl Hoefer has argued that determinism in block universes does not privilege any particular time slice as the fundamental determiner of other time slices. He concludes from this that our actions are free, insofar as they are pieces of time slices we may legitimately regard as fundamental determiners. However, I argue that Hoefer does not adequately deal with certain remaining problems. For one, there remain pervasive asymmetries in causation and the macroscopic efficacy of our actions. I sugges…Read more
  •  129
    When may we kill government agents? In defense of moral parity
    Social Philosophy and Policy 32 (2): 40-61. 2016.
    :This essay argues for what may be called the parity thesis: Whenever it would be morally permissible to kill a civilian in self-defense or in defense of others against that civilian's unjust acts, it would also be permissible to kill government officials, including police officers, prison officers, generals, lawmakers, and even chief executives. I argue that in realistic circumstances, violent resistance to state injustice is permissible, even and perhaps especially in reasonably just democrati…Read more
  •  124
    Beyond the Bottom Line: The Theoretical Goals of Moral Theorizing
    Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 28 (2): 277-296. 2008.
    Moral theory is no substitute for virtue, but virtue is no substitute for moral theory. Many critics of moral theory, with Richard Posner being one prominent recent example, complain that moral theory is too abstract, that it cannot generally be used to derive particular rights and wrongs, and that it does not improve people's characters. Posner complains that it is thus of no use to legal theorists. This article defends moral theory, and to some degree, philosophical inquiry in general, against…Read more
  •  118
    Modesty without Illusion
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (1): 111-128. 2007.
    The common image of the fully virtuous person is of someone with perfect self-command and self-perception, who always makes correct evaluations. However, modesty appears to be areal virtue, and it seems contradictory for someone to believe that she is modest. Accordingly, traditional defenders of phronesis (the view that virtue involves practical wisdom) deny that modesty is a virtue, while defenders of modesty such as Julia Driver deny that phronesis is required for virtue. I offer a new theory…Read more
  •  116
    How Smart is Democracy? You Can't Answer that Question a Priori
    Critical Review 26 (1-2): 33-58. 2014.
    ABSTRACTHélène Landemore claims that under certain conditions, democracies with universal suffrage will tend to make smarter and better decisions than epistocracies, even though most citizens in modern democracies are extremely ignorant about politics. However, there is ample empirical evidence that citizens make systematic errors. If so, it is fatal to Landemore's defense of democracy, which, if it works at all, applies only to highly idealized situations that are unlikely to occur in the real …Read more
  •  109
    Dominating Nature
    Environmental Values 16 (4): 513-528. 2007.
    Something is wrong with the desire to dominate nature. In this paper, I explain both the causes and solution to anti-environmental attitudes within the framework of Hegel's master–slave dialectic. I argue that the master–slave dialectic (interpreted as a metaphor, rather than literally) can provide reasons against taking an attitude of domination, and instead gives reasons to seek to be worthy of respect from nature, though nature cannot, of course, respect us. I then discuss what the social and…Read more
  •  103
    Is Market Society Intrinsically Repugnant?
    Journal of Business Ethics 112 (2): 271-281. 2013.
    In Why Not Socialism ?, G. A. Cohen argues that market society and capitalism are intrinsically repugnant. He asks us to imagine an ideal camping trip, which becomes increasing repugnant as it shifts from living by socialist to capitalist principles. In this paper, I expose the limits of this style of argument by making a parallel argument, which shows how an ideal anarchist camping trip becomes increasingly repugnant as the campsite turns from anarchism to democracy. When we see why this style …Read more
  •  98
    Choice and Excellence: A Defense of Millian Individualism
    Social Theory and Practice 31 (4): 483-498. 2005.
    Communitarians have argued against Millian individualism (ethical liberalism) by claiming that it leads to the compartmentalization of life, and thus inhibits virtue, that it causes alienation, and leads to what I call the problem of choice. Ethical liberals celebrate the free choice of a conception of the good life, but communitarians respond by posing a dilemma. Either the choice is made in reference to some given standard (a social or natural telos), in which case it is not free, or it is mad…Read more
  •  94
    What if Kant Had Had a Cognitive Theory of the Emotions?
    In Valerio Hrsg v. Rohden, Ricardo Terra & Guido Almeida (eds.), Recht und Frieden in der Philosophie Kants, Walter De Gruyter. pp. 1--219. 2008.
    Emotional cognitivists, such as the Stoics and Aristotle, hold that emotions have cognitive content, whereas noncognitivists, like Plato and Kant, believe the emotions to be nonrational bodily movements. I ask, taking Martha Nussbaum's account of cognitivism, what if Kant had become convinced of a cognitive theory of the emotions, what changes would this require in his moral philosophy. Surprisingly, since this represents a radical shift in his psychology, it changes almost nothing. I show that …Read more
  •  92
    Until Joseph Heath came along, philosophical business ethics was in a bad way. To the extent it’s still in a bad way, perhaps it’s because Heath has had insufficient influence. Before Heath, much of the debate in the field was between two major theories—stockholder and stakeholder theory. Both of these theories are either false, or vacuous and empty, depending on the interpretation. Heath has to some degree rescued the field by providing what is perhaps the only good general theory of business e…Read more
  •  84
    Steve Patterson’s Square One (review)
    The Philosophers' Magazine 77 110-112. 2017.
  •  80
    Alon Harel wants to show that punishment is a kind of symbolic expression that, as a matter of metaphysical necessity, can only be performed by governmental agents. Contrary to Harel, I argue private agents can in fact realize those features he argues only public agents can realize. I also argue that, even if he were right that only public guards and wardens can punish, it’s unclear why we would have an all-things-considered rather than merely a pro tanto/prima facie duty to punish. An instrumen…Read more
  •  73
    Libertarianism after Nozick
    Philosophy Compass. forthcoming.
    Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia made libertarianism a major theory in political philosophy. However, the book is often misread as making impractical, question-begging arguments on the basis of a libertarian self-ownership principle. This essay explains how academic philosophical libertarianism since Robert Nozick has returned to its humanistic, classical liberal roots. Contemporary libertarians largely work within the PPE tradition and do what Michael Huemer calls “non-ideal, non-theo…Read more
  •  73
    Propaganda about Propaganda
    Critical Review 29 (1): 34-48. 2017.
    ABSTRACTJason Stanley’s How Propaganda Works intends to offer a novel account of what propaganda is, how it works, and what damage it does inside a democratic culture. The book succeeds in showing that, contrary to the stereotype, propaganda need not be false or misleading. However, Stanley offers contradictory definitions of propaganda, and his theory, which is both over- and under-inclusive, is applied in a dismissive, highly ideological way. In the end, it remains unclear how much damage prop…Read more
  •  72
    Many political theorists and philosophers use Condorcet's Jury Theorem to defend democracy. This paper illustrates an uncomfortable implication of Condorcet's Jury Theorem. Realistically, when the conditions of Condorcet’s Jury Theorem hold, even in very high stakes elections, having more than 100,000 citizens vote does no significant good in securing good political outcomes. On the Condorcet model, unless voters enjoy voting, or unless they produce some other value by voting, then the cost t…Read more
  •  71
    Giving epistocracy a Fair Hearing
    Tandf: Inquiry 1-15. forthcoming.
  •  51
    Brief History of Liberty
    Wiley-Blackwell. 2010.
    Stimulating and thought-provoking," A Brief History of Liberty" offers readers a philosophically-informed portrait of the elusive nature of one of our most ...
  •  42
    Estimating the Cost of Justice for Adjuncts: A Case Study in University Business Ethics
    with Phillip Magness
    Journal of Business Ethics 148 (1): 155-168. 2018.
    American universities rely upon a large workforce of adjunct faculty—contract workers who receive low pay, no benefits, and no job security. Many news sources, magazines, and activists claim that adjuncts are exploited and should receive better pay and treatment. This paper never affirms nor denies that adjuncts are exploited. Instead, we show that any attempt to provide a significantly better deal faces unpleasant constraints and trade-offs. “Adjunct justice” would cost universities somewhere b…Read more