•  25
    This paper is on the problem of profligate omissions. The problem is that counterfactual definitions of causation identify as a cause anything that could have prevented an effect but that did not actually occur, which is a highly counterintuitive result. Many solutions of this problem appeal to normative, epistemic, pragmatic, or metaphysical considerations. These existing solutions are in some sense substantive. In contrast, this paper concentrates on the semantics of counterfactuals. I propose…Read more
  •  137
    The Disappearing Agent as an Exclusion Problem
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    The disappearing agent problem is an argument in the metaphysics of agency. Proponents of the agent-causal approach argue that the rival event-causal approach fails to account for the fact that an agent is active. This paper examines an analogy between this disappearing agent problem and the exclusion problem in the metaphysics of mind. I develop the analogy between these two problems and survey existing solutions. I suggest that some solutions that have received significant attention in respons…Read more
  •  18
    Ethics of Technology Needs More Political Philosophy
    Communications of the Acm 63 (1): 33-35. 2020.
    The ongoing debate on the ethics of self-driving cars typically focuses on two approaches to answering such questions: moral philosophy and social science. I argue that these two approaches are both lacking. We should neither deduce answers from individual moral theories nor should we expect social science to give us complete answers. To supplement these approaches, we should turn to political philosophy. The issues we face are collective decisions that we make together rather than individual de…Read more
  •  76
    A central dispute in social ontology concerns the existence of group minds and actions. I argue that some authors in this dispute rely on rival views of existence without sufficiently acknowledging this divergence. I proceed in three steps in arguing for this claim. First, I define the phenomenon as an implicit higher-order disagreement by drawing on an analysis of verbal disputes. Second, I distinguish two theories of existence—the theory-commitments view and the truthmaker view—in both their e…Read more
  •  78
    Responsibility for Killer Robots
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (3): 731-747. 2019.
    Future weapons will make life-or-death decisions without a human in the loop. When such weapons inflict unwarranted harm, no one appears to be responsible. There seems to be a responsibility gap. I first reconstruct the argument for such responsibility gaps to then argue that this argument is not sound. The argument assumes that commanders have no control over whether autonomous weapons inflict harm. I argue against this assumption. Although this investigation concerns a specific case of autonom…Read more
  •  50
    Punishing groups raises a difficult question, namely, how their punishment can be justified at all. Some have argued that punishing groups is morally problematic because of the effects that the punishment entails for their members. In this paper we argue against this view. We distinguish the question of internal justice—how punishment-effects are distributed—from the question of external justice—whether the punishment is justified. We argue that issues of internal justice do not in general under…Read more
  •  185
    Never Mind the Trolley: The Ethics of Autonomous Vehicles in Mundane Situations
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3): 669-684. 2018.
    Trolley cases are widely considered central to the ethics of autonomous vehicles. We caution against this by identifying four problems. Trolley cases, given technical limitations, rest on assumptions that are in tension with one another. Furthermore, trolley cases illuminate only a limited range of ethical issues insofar as they cohere with a certain design framework. Furthermore, trolley cases seem to demand a moral answer when a political answer is called for. Finally, trolley cases might be e…Read more
  •  5
    Understanding Institutions: The Science and Philosophy of Living Together (review)
    Journal of Social Ontology 3 (2): 275-278. 2017.
  •  515
    Asylum for Sale: A Market between States that is Feasible and Desirable
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 36 (2): 217-232. 2019.
    The asylum system faces problems on two fronts. States undermine it with populist politics, and migrants use it to satisfy their migration preferences. To address these problems, asylum services should be commodified. States should be able to pay other states to provide determination and protection-elsewhere. In this article, I aim to identify a way of implementing this idea that is both feasible and desirable. First, I sketch a policy proposal for a commodification of asylum services. Then, I a…Read more
  •  448
    Epistemic Landscapes, Optimal Search, and the Division of Cognitive Labor
    with Jason McKenzie Alexander and Christopher Thompson
    Philosophy of Science 82 (3). 2015.
    This article examines two questions about scientists’ search for knowledge. First, which search strategies generate discoveries effectively? Second, is it advantageous to diversify search strategies? We argue pace Weisberg and Muldoon, “Epistemic Landscapes and the Division of Cognitive Labor”, that, on the first question, a search strategy that deliberately seeks novel research approaches need not be optimal. On the second question, we argue they have not shown epistemic reasons exist for the d…Read more
  •  68
    The Paraphrase Argument Against Collective Actions
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1): 81-95. 2017.
    This paper is about the status of collective actions. According to one view, collective actions metaphysically reduce to individual actions because sentences about collective actions are merely a shorthand for sentences about individual actions. I reconstruct an argument for this view and show via counterexamples that it is not sound. The argument relies on a paraphrase procedure to unpack alleged shorthand sentences about collective actions into sentences about individual actions. I argue that …Read more
  •  78
    Agency as difference-making: causal foundations of moral responsibility
    Dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science. 2015.
    We are responsible for some things but not for others. In this thesis, I investigate what it takes for an entity to be responsible for something. This question has two components: agents and actions. I argue for a permissive view about agents. Entities such as groups or artificially intelligent systems may be agents in the sense required for responsibility. With respect to actions, I argue for a causal view. The relation in virtue of which agents are responsible for actions is a causal one. I cl…Read more
  •  127
    This paper develops a taxonomy of kinds of actions that can be seen in group agency, human–machine interactions, and virtual realities. These kinds of actions are special in that they are not embodied in the ordinary sense. I begin by analysing the notion of embodiment into three separate assumptions that together comprise what I call the Embodiment View. Although this view may find support in paradigmatic cases of agency, I suggest that each of its assumptions can be relaxed. With each assumpti…Read more