•  755
    Friendship and moral danger
    with Dean Cocking
    Journal of Philosophy 97 (5): 278-296. 2000.
    We focus here on some familiar kinds of cases of conflict between friendship and morality, and, on the basis of our account of the nature of friendship, argue for the following two claims: first, that in some cases where we are led morally astray by virtue of a relationship that makes its own demands on us, the relationship in question is properly called a friendship; second, that relationships of this kind are valuable in their own right.
  •  546
    Neurosentimentalism and Moral Agency
    Mind 119 (475): 585-614. 2010.
    Metaethics has recently been confronted by evidence from cognitive neuroscience that tacit emotional processes play an essential causal role in moral judgement. Most neuroscientists, and some metaethicists, take this evidence to vindicate a version of metaethical sentimentalism. In this paper we argue that the ‘dual process’ model of cognition that frames the discussion within and without philosophy does not do justice to an important constraint on any theory of deliberation and judgement. Namel…Read more
  •  451
    Autism, empathy and moral agency
    Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208): 340-357. 2002.
    Psychopaths have long been of interest to moral philosophers, since a careful examination of their peculiar deficiencies may reveal what features are normally critical to the development of moral agency. What underlies the psychopath's amoralism? A common and plausible answer to this question is that the psychopath lacks empathy. Lack of empathy is also claimed to be a critical impairment in autism, yet it is not at all clear that autistic individuals share the psychopath's amoralism. How is emp…Read more
  •  429
    Friendship and the self
    with Dean Cocking
    Ethics 108 (3): 502-527. 1998.
    We argue that companion friendship is not importantly marked by self-disclosure as understood in either of these two ways. One's close friends need not be markedly similar to oneself, as is claimed by the mirror account, nor is the role of private information in establishing and maintaining intimacy important in the way claimed by the secrets view. Our claim will be that the mirror and secrets views not only fail to identify features that are in part constitutive of close or companion friendship…Read more
  •  375
    Reasons, reflection, and repugnance
    In Alberto Giubilini & Steve Clarke (eds.), The Ethics of Human Enhancement: Understanding the Debate, Oxford University Press. 2016.
    In this chapter we draw comparisons between Kass’ views on the normative authority of repugnance and social intuitionist accounts of moral judgement which are similarly sceptical about the role of reasoned reflection in moral judgement. We survey the empirical claims made in support of giving moral primacy to intuitions generated by emotions such as repugnance, as well as some common objections. We then examine accounts which integrate intuition and reflection, and argue that plausible accounts …Read more
  •  321
    The recent, influential Social Intuitionist Model of moral judgment (Haidt, Psychological Review 108, 814–834, 2001) proposes a primary role for fast, automatic and affectively charged moral intuitions in the formation of moral judgments. Haidt’s research challenges our normative conception of ourselves as agents capable of grasping and responding to reasons. We argue that there can be no ‘real’ moral judgments in the absence of a capacity for reflective shaping and endorsement of moral judgment…Read more
  •  310
    Do psychopaths really threaten moral rationalism?
    Philosophical Explorations 9 (1). 2006.
    It is often claimed that the existence of psychopaths undermines moral rationalism. I examine a recent empirically based argument for this claim and conclude that rationalist accounts of moral judgement and moral reasoning are perfectly compatible with the evidence cited.
  •  266
    In this chapter we focus on the structure of close personal relations and diagnose how these relationships are disrupted by addiction. We draw upon Peter Strawson’s landmark paper ‘Freedom and Resentment’ (2008, first published 1962) to argue that loved ones of those with addiction veer between, (1) reactive attitudes of blame and resentment generated by disappointed expectations of goodwill and reciprocity, and (2) the detached objective stance from which the addicted person is seen as less bla…Read more
  •  187
    Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is a condition in which a person appears to possess more than one personality, and sometimes very many. Some recent criminal cases involving defendants with DID have resulted in "not guilty" verdicts, though the defense is not always successful in this regard. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Stephen Behnke have argued that we should excuse DID sufferers from responsibility, only if at the time of the act the pers…Read more
  •  151
    Delusion, dissociation and identity
    Philosophical Explorations 6 (1): 31-49. 2003.
    The condition known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is metaphysically strange. Can there really be several distinct persons operating in a single body? Our view is that DID sufferers are single persons with a severe mental disorder. In this paper we compare the phenomenology of dissociation between personality states in DID with certain delusional disorders. We argue both that the burden of proof must lie with those who defend the metaphysically ext…Read more
  •  123
    Mental disorder, moral agency, and the self
    In Bonnie Steinbock (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Bioethics, Oxford University Press. pp. 90-113. 2007.
    A person suffering a mental illness or disorder may differ dramatically from his or her previous well self. Family and close friends who knew the person before the onset of illness tend to regard the illness as obscuring their loved one's true self and see the goal of treatment as the restoration of that self. ‘He is not really like this,’ they will say with increasing desperation. Treatment teams and others, who have no acquaintance with the person when well, respond to what they see in front o…Read more
  •  104
    We have argued here that to attribute criminal responsibility to psychopathic individuals is to ignore substantial and growing evidence that psychopathic individuals are significantly impaired in moral understanding. They do not appear to know why moral transgressions are wrong in the full sense required by the law. As morally blameless offenders, punishment as a basis for detention cannot be justified. Moreover, as there are currently no successful treatment programs for psychopathy, nor can de…Read more
  •  87
    The unity and disunity of agency
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 10 (4): 308-312. 2003.
    Effective agency, according to contemporary Kantians, requires a unity of purpose both at a time, in order that we may eliminate conflict among our motives, and over time, because many of the things we do form part of longer-term projects and make sense only in the light of these projects and life plans. Call this the unity of agency thesis. This thesis can be regarded as a normative constraint on accounts of personal identity and indeed on accounts of what it is to have the life of a person in …Read more
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  •  77
    Is it ever possible for people to act freely and intentionally against their better judgement? Is it ever possible to act in opposition to one's strongest desire? If either of these questions are answered in the negative, the common-sense distinctions between recklessness, weakness of will and compulsion collapse. This would threaten our ordinary notion of self-control and undermine our practice of holding each other responsible for moral failure. So a clear and plausible account of how weakness…Read more
  •  76
    Imagining Reasons
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (s1): 181-192. 2011.
    In this article, I explore the implications of Karsten Stueber's account of imaginative resistance, particularly as it relates to the phenomenon of moral dumbfounding described by Jonathan Haidt and colleagues. I suggest that Stueber's account allows us to redescribe the phenomenon as a failure of the folk psychological project of interpretation and so to challenge Haidt's metaethical conclusions. I close by considering some implications for moral deliberation and judgment in those, such as auti…Read more
  •  65
    Mental time travel, agency and responsibility
    In Matthew Broome & Lisa Bortolotti (eds.), Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience: Philosophical Perspectives, Oxford University Press. 2009.
    We have argued elsewhere that moral responsibility over time depends in part upon the having of psychological connections which facilitate forms of self-control. In this chapter we explore the importance of mental time travel - our ordinary ability to mentally travel to temporal locations outside the present, involving both memory of our personal past and the ability to imagine ourselves in the future - to our agential capacities for planning and control. We suggest that in many individuals with…Read more
  •  63
    Truth, Lies, and the Narrative Self
    American Philosophical Quarterly 49 (4): 301-316. 2012.
    Social persons routinely tell themselves and others richly elaborated autobiographical stories filled with details about deeds, plans, roles, motivations, values, and character. Saul, let us imagine, is someone who once sailed the world as a young adventurer, going from port to port and living a gypsy existence. In telling his new acquaintance, Jess, of his former exotic life, he shines a light on his present character and this may guide to some extent their interaction here and now. Perhaps Jes…Read more
  •  63
    In this chapter I argue that there is a normative aspect to self-control that is not captured by the purely procedural account to be drawn from dual process theories of cognition – which we only uncover when we consider what self-control is for and why it is valuable. For at least a significant sub-group of addicts their loss of control over their drug use may not be due to a lack or depletion of cognitive resources. Rather it may be that they have little confidence in their ability to exert con…Read more
  •  48
    Mental time travel is the ability to simulate alternative pasts and futures. It is often described as the ability to project a sense of self in the service of diachronic agency. It requires not only semantic representation but affective sampling of alternative futures. If people lose this ability for affective sampling their sense of self is diminished. They have less of a self to project hence are compromised as agents. If they cannot “feel the future” they cannot imaginatively inhabit it and h…Read more
  •  46
    The Cost of Conscience
    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 26 (1): 69-81. 2017.
    :The spread of demands by physicians and allied health professionals for accommodation of their private ethical, usually religiously based, objections to providing care of a particular type, or to a particular class of persons, suggests the need for a re-evaluation of conscientious objection in healthcare and how it should be regulated. I argue on Kantian grounds that respect for conscience and protection of freedom of conscience is consistent with fairly stringent limitations and regulations go…Read more
  •  42
    Mixed motives
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 71 (3). 1993.
    My aim in this paper is, by process of elimination, to elucidate and defend an account of how ordinary people act on their values. I will be making both a descriptive claim about our psychology and a further claim about its effectiveness and rational status. I want to suggest that the way in which most of us in fact put our values into practice is, over time, preferable to the ways which initially seem required or at least desirable.
  •  41
    Undercover marketing targets potential customers by concealing the commercial nature of an apparently social transaction. In a typical case an individual approaches a marketing target apparently to provide some information or advice about a product in a way that makes it seem like they are a fellow consumer. In another kind of case, a friend displays a product to you, and encourages its purchase, but fails to disclose their association with the marketing firm. We focus on this second type of cas…Read more
  •  39
    No abstract
  •  38
    Morally good action requires both sincere moral judgment and moral motivation. Internalists claim in one way or another that these two things are internally connected. Externalists, on the other hand, claim that the connection between moral judgment and action is forged by motives external to the judgment itself. First we will look at the evidence from psychopathy, then we will turn to cases of so-called acquired sociopathy.
  •  37
    Beyond dualism : a plea for an extended taxonomy of agency impairment in addiction
    with Anke Snoek and Craig Fry
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 3 (2): 56-57. 2012.
    Pickard (2012) claims that the neurobiological or disease model of addiction hinders the recovery of people because it undermines their feeling of self-efficacy and agency. Sub- stance users are “not aided by being treated as victims of a neurobiological disease, as opposed to agents of their own recovery” (40).Although Pickard acknowledges that claims of powerlessness or loss of agency can have a functional role in the self-narratives of substance users in excusing them from blame, she primaril…Read more