•  10
    Causal Accounts of Harming
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
    A popular view of harming is the causal account (CA), on which harming is causing harm. CA has several attractive features. In particular, it appears well equipped to deal with the most important problems for its main competitor, the counterfactual comparative account (CCA). However, we argue that, despite its advantages, CA is ultimately an unacceptable theory of harming. Indeed, while CA avoids several counterexamples to CCA, it is vulnerable to close variants of some of the problems that bese…Read more
  •  15
  •  13
    Well-Being Counterfactualist Accounts of Harm and Benefit
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (1): 164-174. 2021.
    ABSTRACT Suppose that, for every possible event and person who would exist whether or not the event were to occur, there is a well-being level that the person would occupy if the event were to occur, and a well-being level that the person would occupy if the event were not to occur. Do facts about such connections between events and well-being levels always suffice to determine whether an event would harm or benefit a person? Many seemingly attractive accounts of harm and benefit entail an affir…Read more
  •  46
    Well-Being Counterfactualist Accounts of Harm and Benefit
    Tandf: Australasian Journal of Philosophy 1-11. 2021.
    Suppose that, for every possible event and person who would exist whether or not the event were to occur, there is a well-being level that the person would occupy if the event were to occur, and a well-being level that the person would occupy if the event were not to occur. Do facts about such connections between events and wellbeing levels always suffice to determine whether an event would harm or benefit a person? Many seemingly attractive accounts of harm and benefit entail an affirmative ans…Read more
  •  18
    The Subject of Harm in Non-Identity Cases
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (4): 825-839. 2019.
    In a typical non-identity case, the agent performs an action that causes someone to exist at a low but positive level of well-being, although an alternative was to create another, much happier person instead. There seem to be strong moral reasons against what the agent does, but it is difficult to explain how this can be so. In particular, it seems that on a simple counterfactual account of harm, the action does not harm anyone, as it does not make anyone worse off than he or she would have been…Read more
  •  18
    Bontly on Harm and the Non-Identity Problem
    Utilitas 31 (4): 477-481. 2019.
    The ‘non-identity problem’ raises a well-known challenge to the person-affecting view, according to which an action can be wrong only if it affects someone for the worse. In a recent article, however, Thomas D. Bontly proposes a novel way to solve the non-identity problem in person-affecting terms. Bontly's argument is based on a contrastive causal account of harm. In this response, we argue that Bontly's argument fails even assuming that the contrastive causal account is correct.
  •  64
    According to the “deprivation approach,” a person’s death is bad for her to the extent that it deprives her of goods. This approach faces the Lucretian problem that prenatal non-existence deprives us of goods just as much as death does, but does not seem bad at all. The two most prominent responses to this challenge—one of which is provided by Frederik Kaufman and the other by Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer—claim that prenatal non-existence is relevantly different from death. This pap…Read more
  •  40
    Harming and Failing to Benefit: A Reply to Purves
    Philosophical Studies 177 (6): 1539-1548. 2020.
    A prominent objection to the counterfactual comparative account of harm is that it classifies as harmful some events that are, intuitively, mere failures to benefit. In an attempt to solve this problem, Duncan Purves has recently proposed a novel version of the counterfactual comparative account, which relies on a distinction between making upshots happen and allowing upshots to happen. In this response, we argue that Purves’s account is unsuccessful. It fails in cases where an action makes the …Read more
  •  32
    The Subject of Harm in Non-Identity Cases
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (4): 1-15. 2018.
    In a typical non-identity case, the agent performs an action that causes someone to exist at a low but positive level of well-being, although an alternative was to create another, much happier person instead. There seem to be strong moral reasons against what the agent does, but it is difficult to explain how this can be so. In particular, it seems that on a simple counterfactual account of harm, the action does not harm anyone, as it does not make anyone worse off than he or she would have been…Read more
  •  47
    The Problem of Justified Harm: a Reply to Gardner
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3): 735-742. 2018.
    In this paper, we critically examine Molly Gardner’s favored solution to what she calls “the problem of justified harm.” We argue that Gardner’s view is false and that her arguments in support of it are unconvincing. Finally, we briefly suggest an alternative solution to the problem which avoids the difficulties that beset Gardner’s proposal.
  •  49
    ‘Pure Time Preference’: Reply to Lowry and Peterson
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (3): 435-441. 2016.
    A pure time preference is a preference for something to occur at one point in time rather than another, merely because of when it occurs in time. Such preferences are widely regarded as paradigm examples of irrational preferences. However, Rosemary Lowry and Martin Peterson have recently argued that, for instance, a pure time preference to go to the opera tonight rather than next month may be rationally permissible, even if the amounts of intrinsic value realized in both cases are identical. In …Read more
  •  43
    Well-Being without Being? A Reply to Feit
    with Erik Carlson
    Utilitas 30 (2): 198-208. 2018.
    In a recent Utilitas article, Neil Feit argues that every person occupies a well-being level of zero at all times and possible worlds at which she fails to exist. Views like his face the problem of the subject': how can someone have a well-being level in a scenario where she lacks intrinsic properties? Feit argues that this problem can be solved by noting, among other things, that a proposition about a person can be true at a possible world in which neither she nor the proposition exists. In thi…Read more
  •  68
    The Time of Death's Badness
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 37 (5): 464-479. 2012.
    Those who endorse the view that death is in some cases bad for the deceased—a view that, as I shall explain, has considerable bearing on many bioethical issues—need to address the following, Epicurean question: When is death bad for the one who dies? The two most popular answers are "before death" (priorism) and "after death" (subsequentism). Part of the support for these two views consists in the idea that a third answer, "at no time" (atemporalism), makes death unsatisfyingly different from ot…Read more
  •  1
  • Animal Ethics
    In Stephan Blatti & Paul Snowdon (eds.), Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, Oxford University Press. 2016.
    Several attractive principles about prudential concern and moral responsibility seem to speak against animalism. I criticize some animalist responses to this kind of problem, and suggest another answer, which has similarites with the most important argument in favor of animalism: the “thinking animal” argument.
  •  1
  • The Severity of Death
    In John K. Davis (ed.), Ethics at the End of Life: New Issues and Arguments, Routledge. pp. 61-73. 2017.
    Just as some illnesses and injuries are worse than others, so some deaths appear to be worse than others. This is so not only for the fairly trivial reason that those deaths that are bad are worse than those deaths that are not bad: less trivially, some bad deaths seem to be worse than other bad deaths. For instance, whereas it may well be bad for an eighty-year-old to die, it is likely to be even worse for a forty-year-old, and still worse for a twenty-year-old. Supposing that the badness of…Read more
  •  103
    The preemption problem
    Philosophical Studies 176 (2): 351-365. 2019.
    According to the standard version of the counterfactual comparative account of harm, an event is overall harmful for an individual if and only if she would have been on balance better off if it had not occurred. This view faces the “preemption problem.” In the recent literature, there are various ingenious attempts to deal with this problem, some of which involve slight additions to, or modifications of, the counterfactual comparative account. We argue, however, that none of these attempts work,…Read more
  •  24
    The Lucretian Puzzle and the Nature of Time
    The Journal of Ethics 21 (3): 239-250. 2017.
    If a person’s death is bad for him for the reason that he would have otherwise been intrinsically better off, as the Deprivation Approach says, does it not follow that his prenatal nonexistence is bad for him as well? Recently, it has been suggested that the “A-theory” of time can be used to support a negative answer to this question. In this paper, I raise some problems for this approach.
  •  106
    The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death (edited book)
    with Ben Bradley and Fred Feldman
    Oxford University Press USA. 2012.
    Death has long been a pre-occupation of philosophers, and this is especially so today. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death collects 21 newly commissioned essays that cover current philosophical thinking of death-related topics across the entire range of the discipline. These include metaphysical topics--such as the nature of death, the possibility of an afterlife, the nature of persons, and how our thinking about time affects what we think about death--as well as axiological topics, such …Read more
  •  20
    Review of LR Baker, The Metaphysics of Everyday Life (review)
    Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
  •  22
    Asymmetry and Incoherence: A Reply to Cyr
    The Journal of Ethics 21 (2): 215-221. 2017.
    In defense of the Deprivation Approach to the badness of death against the Lucretian objection that death is relevantly similar to prenatal nonexistence, John Martin Fischer and Anthony L. Brueckner have suggested that whereas death deprives us of things that it is rational for us to care about, prenatal nonexistence does not. I have argued that this suggestion, even if correct, does not make for a successful defense of the Deprivation Approach against the Lucretian objection. My criticism invol…Read more
  •  79
    Fitting Attitudes, Welfare, and Time
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (3): 247-256. 2009.
    Chris Heathwood has recently put forward a novel and ingenious argument against the view that intrinsic value is analyzable in terms of fitting attitudes. According to Heathwood, this view holds water only if the related but distinct concept of welfare—intrinsic value for a person —can be analyzed in terms of fitting attitudes too. Moreover, he argues against such an analysis of welfare by appealing to the rationality of our bias towards the future. In this paper, I argue that so long as we keep…Read more
  •  85
    In his recent book, Death and the Afterlife, Samuel Scheffler argues that it matters greatly to us that there be other human beings long after our own deaths. In support of this “Afterlife Thesis,” as I call it, he provides a thought experiment—the “doomsday scenario”—in which we learn that, although we ourselves will live a normal life span, 30 days after our death the earth will be completely destroyed. In this paper I question this “doomsday scenario” support for Scheffler’s Afterlife Thesis.…Read more