•  1789
    Religious traditions can be sources of values and attitudes supporting the liberal polity in ways that political theorizing and conceptions of public reason often fail to recognize. moreover, religious traditions can give support through the ways reason is crucial to their self-understanding. one understanding of Judaism is examined as an example. Also, the particularism of traditions can encourage commitment to universally valid values and ideals. reason’s role in Judaism and other religious tr…Read more
  •  506
    Emergent individuals and the resurrection
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 2 (2). 2010.
    We present an original emergent individuals view of human persons, on which persons are substantial biological unities that exemplify metaphysically emergent mental states. We argue that this view allows for a coherent model of identity-preserving resurrection from the dead consistent with orthodox Christian doctrine, one that improves upon alternatives accounts recently proposed by a number of authors. Our model is a variant of the “falling elevator” model advanced by Dean Zimmerman that, unlik…Read more
  •  347
    Powerful Qualities, Not Pure Powers
    The Monist 94 (1): 81-102. 2011.
    I explore two accounts of properties within a dispositional essentialist (or causal powers) framework, the pure powers view and the powerful qualities view. I first attempt to clarify precisely what the pure powers view is, and then raise objections to it. I then present the powerful qualities view and, in order to avoid a common misconception, offer a restatement of it that I shall call the truthmaker view. I end by briefly defending the truthmaker view against objections.
  •  204
    An Eastern Orthodox Conception of Theosis and Human Nature
    Faith and Philosophy 26 (5): 615-627. 2009.
    Though foreign—and perhaps shocking—to many in the west, the doctrine of theosis is central in the theology and practice of Eastern Orthodoxy. Theosis is “the ultimate goal of human existence”1 and indeed is “a way of summing up the purpose of creation”:2 That God will unite himself to all of creation with humanity at the focal point. What are human persons, that they might be united to God? That is the question I explore in this paper. In particular, I explore an account of human nature inspire…Read more
  •  203
    Emergent individuals
    Philosophical Quarterly 53 (213): 540-555. 2003.
    We explain the thesis that human mental states are ontologically emergent aspects of a fundamentally biological organism. We then explore the consequences of this thesis for the identity of a human person over time. As these consequences are not obviously independent of one's general ontology of objects and their properties, we consider four such accounts: transcendent universals, kind-Aristotelianism, immanent universals, and tropes. We suggest there are reasons for emergentists to favor the l…Read more
  •  182
    Causal powers: A neo-aristotelian metaphysic
    Dissertation, Indiana University. 2007.
    Causal powers, say, an electron’s power to repel other electrons, are had in virtue of having properties. Electrons repel other electrons because they are negatively charged. One’s views about causal powers are shaped by—and shape—one’s views concerning properties, causation, laws of nature and modality. It is no surprise, then, that views about the nature of causal powers are generally embedded into larger, more systematic, metaphysical pictures of the world. This dissertation is an exploration…Read more
  •  157
    Agent causation in a neo-Aristotelian metaphysics
    In Sophie Gibb, E. J. Lowe & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Mental Causation and Ontology, Oxford University Press. 2013.
    Freedom and moral responsibility have one foot in the practical realm of human affairs and the other in the esoteric realm of fundamental metaphysics—or so we believe. This has been denied, especially in the metaphysics-bashing era occupying the first two-thirds or so of the twentieth century, traces of which linger in the present day. But the reasons for this denial seem to us quite implausible. Certainly, the argument for the general bankruptcy of metaphysics has been soundly discredited. Argu…Read more
  •  103
    Teleology and reduction in biology
    Biology and Philosophy 1 (4): 389-399. 1986.
    The main claim in this paper is that because organisms have teleological constitutions, the reduction of biology to physical science is not possible. It is argued that the teleology of organisms is intrinsic and not merely projected onto them. Many organic phenomena are end-oriented and reference to ends is necessary for explaining them. Accounts in terms of functions or goals are appropriate to organic parts and processes. siis is because ends as systemic requirements for survival and health ha…Read more
  •  87
    In this paper, my central aim is to defend the Powers Theory of causation, according to which causation is the exercise of a power (or manifestation of a disposition). I will do so by, first, presenting a recent version of the Powers Theory, that of Mumford (Forthcoming). Second, I will raise an objection to Mumford’s account. Third, I will offer a revised version that avoids the objection. And, fourth, I will end by briefly comparing the proposed Powers Theory with the Neo-Humean, counterfactua…Read more
  •  73
    Actuality, Possibility, and Worlds. By Alexander R. Pruss (review)
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 87 (4): 799-802. 2013.
  •  64
    Criminal Justice and the Liberal Polity
    Criminal Justice Ethics 30 (2): 173-191. 2011.
    There are several reasonable conceptions of liberalism. A liberal polity can survive a measure of disagreement over just what constitutes liberalism. In part, this is because of the way a liberal order makes possible a dynamic, heterogeneous civil society and how that, in turn, can supply participants with reasons to support a liberal political order. Despite the different conceptions of justice associated with different conceptions of liberalism, there are reasons to distinguish the normative f…Read more
  •  55
    Plasticity and perfection: Maimonides and Aristotle on character
    Religious Studies 33 (4): 443-454. 1997.
    Many of the basic elements of Maimonides' moral psychology are Aristotelian, but there are some important respects in which Maimonides departs from Aristotle. One of those respect concerns the possibility of changing one's character. There is, according to Maimonides, redemptive possibility that Aristotle does not recognize. There is, according to Maimonides, a redemptive possibility that Aristotle does not recognize. This is based on the fact of revealed law. That is, if there is revealed law, …Read more
  •  53
    Jacobs' interpretation is developed in contrast to the overlooked work of Maimonides, who also used Aristotelian resources but argued for the possibility of ...
  •  53
    Metaethics and Teleology
    Review of Metaphysics 55 (1). 2001.
    THERE IS AN IMPORTANT RESPECT in which virtue-centered ethical realism needs to be more Aristotelian than it is typically willing to admit. This concerns the way in which teleological considerations need to be more explicitly acknowledged. Reflection on moral phenomenology, discourse, and practice supports realism and also reveals that teleological considerations cannot be entirely disowned by it. The teleology is not a grand teleology, however; it is not the view that there is a unique perfecti…Read more
  •  49
    Jon Jacobs emphasises their distinctive contributions, emphasises the shared rational emphasis of their approach to Torah, and draws out resonances with ...
  •  48
    Some tensions between autonomy and self-governance
    Social Philosophy and Policy 20 (2): 221-244. 2003.
    The notions of autonomy and self-governance each capture something crucial about the moral dimensions of agents and actions. These notions are central to the ways in which we conceptualize ourselves and others. The concept of autonomy is especially crucial to understanding the distinct status of moral agents. For its part, self-governance has a significant relation to the evaluation of agents as individuals with particular characters, leading particular sorts of lives, and performing particular …Read more
  •  43
    Deadly vices - by Gabrielle Taylor
    Philosophical Books 49 (2): 182-184. 2008.
  •  43
    Causal Powers (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2017.
    We use concepts of causal powers and their relatives-dispositions, capacities, and abilities-to describe the world around us, both in everyday life and in scientific practice. This volume presents new work on the nature of causal powers, and their connections with other phenomena within metaphysics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind.
  •  43
    Moral Imagination, Objectivity, and Practical Wisdom
    International Philosophical Quarterly 31 (1): 23-37. 1991.
  •  41
    Why Is Virtue Naturally Pleasing?
    Review of Metaphysics 49 (1): 21-48. 1995.
    A great deal is compressed into this passage; pleasure is associated in important ways with our nature; it has a crucial role in moral education; we can be pleased and displeased correctly or incorrectly, and this has a place in making character; and pleasure is something that matters all through a human life. Some of the themes are introduced and discussed at earlier places in the Ethics; some receive fuller treatment in book 10. The idea that some things are naturally pleasant and that the vir…Read more
  •  37
    The place of virtue in happiness
    Journal of Value Inquiry 19 (3): 171-182. 1985.
  •  36
    Omnipotence and concurrence
    with John Zeis
    International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 14 (1). 1983.
  •  35
    Some Remarks on Criminology and Moral Philosophy
    Criminal Justice Ethics 38 (3): 198-220. 2019.
    Recent developments in philosophy and in criminology indicate that there are significant respects in which the two disciplines can be mutually informing. Many philosophers are increasingly interested in exploring empirical aspects of philosophical claims, and criminologists are finding their way past the alleged fact/value distinction and are rediscovering the moral significance of facts, especially regarding punishment and desistance. In some recent criminological studies there are implicit lin…Read more
  •  35
    The Epistemology of Moral Tradition
    Review of Metaphysics 64 (1): 55-74. 2010.
    An explication of the Maimonidean view that tradition--even when anchored in revelation---can be a mode of access to rationally justified moral requirements. The discussion focuses on the mutually reinforcing roles of enlarging understanding on the one hand, and engagement in practice on the other. Deepened understanding of the 'reasons for the commandments' can motivate commitment to practice, which in turn can aid in deepening understanding.
  •  34
    Punishing Society: Incarceration, Coercive Corruption, and the Liberal Polity
    Criminal Justice Ethics 33 (3): 200-219. 2014.
    Criminal justice in the United States is beset with several serious problems and challenges. While the issues are not entirely unique to the U.S. and can be found to some extent in other liberal de...
  •  32
    How Is Criminal Justice Related to the Rest of Justice?
    Criminal Justice Ethics 39 (2): 111-136. 2020.
    Are principles of criminal justice derived from a broader conception of justice, or does criminal justice involve some of its own distinctive principles such that it is not—for example—an aspect of...
  •  31
    Friendship, Self-Love and Knowledge
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 66 (1): 21-37. 1992.
  •  31
    The Liberal Polity, Criminal Sanction, and Civil Society
    Criminal Justice Ethics 32 (3): 1-16. 2013.
    The article explores an intersection of moral psychology and political principles regarding criminal sanction. A liberal state cannot require that persons acquire certain states of character or lead certain specific kinds of lives; it cannot require virtue. Moreover, it would be wrong for the state to punish offenders in ways that damage their capacities for agency, and in ways that encourage vice. In the U.S. the terms and conditions of punishment often have deleterious effects on agential capa…Read more
  •  31
    Virtuous Liaisons (review)
    Social Theory and Practice 33 (2): 345-352. 2007.