•  1891
    Since the last ice age, when ice enveloped most of the northern continents, the earth has warmed by about five degrees. Within a century, it is likely to warm by another four or five. This revolution in our climate will have immense and mostly harmful effects on the lives of people not yet born. We are inflicting this harm on our descendants by dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We can mitigate the harm a little by taking measures to control our emissions of these gases, and to adapt …Read more
  •  829
  •  670
    Normative requirements
    Ratio 12 (4). 1999.
    Normative requirements are often overlooked, but they are central features of the normative world. Rationality is often thought to consist in acting for reasons, but following normative requirements is also a major part of rationality. In particular, correct reasoning – both theoretical and practical – is governed by normative requirements rather than by reasons. This article explains the nature of normative requirements, and gives examples of their importance. It also describes mistakes that ph…Read more
  •  583
    Most properties have comparatives, which are relations. For instance, the property of width has the comparative relation denoted by `_ is wider than _'. Let us say a property is reducible to its comparative if any statement that refers to the property has the same meaning as another statement that refers to the comparative instead. Width is not reducible to its comparative. To be sure, many statements that refer to width are reducible: for instance, `The Mississippi is wide' means the same as `T…Read more
  •  470
    Wide or narrow scope?
    Mind 116 (462): 359-370. 2007.
    This paper is a response to ‘Why Be Rational?’ by Niko Kolodny. Kolodny argues that we have no reason to satisfy the requirements of rationality. His argument assumes that these requirements have a logically narrow scope. To see what the question of scope turns on, this comment provides a semantics for ‘requirement’. It shows that requirements of rationality have a wide scope, at least under one sense of ‘requirement’. Consequently Kolodny's conclusion cannot be derived.
  •  445
    The Value of a Person
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 68 (1). 1994.
    (for Adam Morton's half) I argue that if we take the values of persons to be ordered in a way that allows incomparability, then the problems Broome raises have easy solutions. In particular we can maintain that creating people is morally neutral while killing them has a negative value.
  •  398
    Does Rationality Consist in Responding Correctly to Reasons?
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 4 (3): 349-374. 2007.
    Some philosophers think that rationality consists in responding correctly to reasons, or alternatively in responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. This paper considers various possible interpretations of ‘responding correctly to reasons’ and of ‘responding correctly to beliefs about reasons’, and concludes that rationality consists in neither, under any interpretation. It recognizes that, under some interpretations, rationality does entail responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. Tha…Read more
  •  357
    The badness of death and the goodness of life
    In Fred Feldman, Ben Bradley & Jens Johansson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Death, Oxford University Press. 2012.
  •  302
    Reasons and motivation: John Broome
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 71 (1). 1997.
    Derek Parfit takes an externalist and cognitivist view about normative reasons. I shall explore this view and add some arguments that support it. But I shall also raise a doubt about it at the end.
  •  300
  •  291
    Theoria 75 (2): 79-99. 2009.
    I develop a scheme for the explanation of rational action. I start from a scheme that may be attributed to Thomas Nagel in The Possibility of Altruism , and develop it step by step to arrive at a sharper and more accurate scheme. The development includes a progressive refinement of the notion of motivation. I end by explaining the role of reasoning within the scheme.
  •  289
    Comments on Boghossian
    Philosophical Studies 169 (1): 19-25. 2014.
  •  288
    Climate change: life and death
    In Jeremy Moss (ed.), Climate Change and Justice, Cambridge University Press. 2015.
    commissioned for the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change.
  •  268
    This study uses techniques from economics to illuminate fundamental questions in ethics, particularly in the foundations of utilitarianism. Topics considered include the nature of teleological ethics, the foundations of decision theory, the value of equality and the moral significance of a person's continuing identity through time.
  •  266
    Economics and Philosophy 7 (1): 1-12. 1991.
    “Utility,” in plain English, means usefulness. In Australia, a ute is a useful vehicle. Jeremy Bentham specialized the meaning to a particular sort of usefulness. “By utility,” he said, “is meant that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness or to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered”. The “principle of utility” is the principle that actions are to be judged by their use…Read more
  •  265
    Incommensurable values
    In Roger Crisp & Brad Hooker (eds.), Well-Being and Morality: Essays in Honour of James Griffin, Clarendon Press. pp. 21--38. 2000.
    Two options are incommensurate in value if neither is better than the other, and if a small improvement or worsening of one does not necessarily make it determinately better or worse than the other. If a person faces a sequence of choices between incommensurate options, she may end up with a worse options than she could have had, even though none of her choices are irrational. Yet it seems that rationality should save her from this bad outcome. This is the practical problem posed by incommensura…Read more
  •  256
    Is rationality normative?
    Disputatio 2 (23): 161-178. 2007.
    Rationality requires various things of you. For example, it requires you not to have contradictory beliefs, and to intend what you believe is a necessary means to an end that you intend. Suppose rationality requires you to F. Does this fact constitute a reason for you to F? Does it even follow from this fact that you have a reason to F? I examine these questions and reach a sceptical conclusion about them. I can find no satisfactory argument to show that either has the answer ‘yes’. I consider t…Read more
  •  245
    Hommage À Wlodek; 60 Philosophical Papers Dedicated to Wlodek Rabinowicz. 2007.
    The object of this paper is to explore the intersection of two issues – both of them of considerable interest in their own right. The first concerns the role that feasibility considerations play in constraining normative claims – claims, say, about what we (individually and collectively) ought to do and to be. This issue has particular relevance for the confrontation of moral philosophy with economics (and social science more generally). The second issue concerns whether normative claims are to …Read more
  •  239
    Backwards induction in the centipede game
    with Wlodek Rabinowicz
    Analysis 59 (4): 237-242. 1999.
    The standard backward-induction reasoning in a game like the centipede assumes that the players maintain a common belief in rationality throughout the game. But that is a dubious assumption. Suppose the first player X didn't terminate the game in the first round; what would the second player Y think then? Since the backwards-induction argument says X should terminate the game, and it is supposed to be a sound argument, Y might be entitled to doubt X's rationality. Alternatively, Y might doubt th…Read more
  •  231
    Normative practical reasoning: John Broome
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 75 (1). 2001.
    Practical reasoning is a process of reasoning that concludes in an intention. One example is reasoning from intending an end to intending what you believe is a necessary means: 'I will leave the next buoy to port; in order to do that I must tack; so I'll tack', where the first and third sentences express intentions and the second sentence a belief. This sort of practical reasoning is supported by a valid logical derivation, and therefore seems uncontrovertible. A more contentious example is norm…Read more
  •  224
    Esteemed philosopher John Broome avoids the familiar ideological stances on climate change policy and examines the issue through an invigorating new lens. As he considers the moral dimensions of climate change, he reasons clearly through what universal standards of goodness and justice require of us, both as citizens and as governments. His conclusions—some as demanding as they are logical—will challenge and enlighten. Eco-conscious readers may be surprised to hear they have a duty to offset all…Read more
  •  219
    Reasoning with preferences?
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 59 183-208. 2006.
    Rationality requires certain things of you. It requires you not to have contradictory beliefs or intentions, not to intend something you believe to be impossible, to believe what obviously follows from something you believe, and so on. Its requirements can be expressed using schemata such as
  •  212
    What Should We Agree on about the Repugnant Conclusion?
    with Stéphane Zuber, Nikhil Venkatesh, Torbjörn Tännsjö, Christian Tarsney, H. Orri Stefánsson, Katie Steele, Dean Spears, Jeff Sebo, Marcus Pivato, Toby Ord, Yew-Kwang Ng, Michal Masny, William MacAskill, Nicholas Lawson, Kevin Kuruc, Michelle Hutchinson, Johan E. Gustafsson, Hilary Greaves, Lisa Forsberg, Marc Fleurbaey, Diane Coffey, Susumu Cato, Clinton Castro, Tim Campbell, Mark Budolfson, Alexander Berger, Nick Beckstead, and Geir B. Asheim
    Utilitas 1-5. forthcoming.
    The Repugnant Conclusion served an important purpose in catalyzing and inspiring the pioneering stage of population ethics research. We believe, however, that the Repugnant Conclusion now receives too much focus. Avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion should no longer be the central goal driving population ethics research, despite its importance to the fundamental accomplishments of the existing literature.
  •  208
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 91. 1991.
  •  182
    Utilitarianism and expected utility
    Journal of Philosophy 84 (8): 405-422. 1987.
  •  179
    Rationality Through Reasoning
    Wiley-Blackwell. 2013.
    _Rationality Through Reasoning_ answers the question of how people are motivated to do what they believe they ought to do, built on a comprehensive account of normativity, rationality and reasoning that differs significantly from much existing philosophical thinking. Develops an original account of normativity, rationality and reasoning significantly different from the majority of existing philosophical thought Includes an account of theoretical and practical reasoning that explains how reasonin…Read more