•  48
    Two Pessimisms in Mill
    Utilitas 1-16. forthcoming.
    Mill defines utilitarianism as the combination of a “theory of life” and a moral claim: only pleasure and freedom from pain are desirable as ends, and the promotion of happiness is the sole goal of moral action. So defined, utilitarianism is open to ad hominem pessimistic objection: a “theory of life” which entails the impossibility of happiness fits poorly with a morality centered on its promotion. The first two challenges Mill confronts in Utilitarianism share this pessimistic structure. Inter…Read more
  •  39
    Complex Wisdom in the Euthydemus
    Apeiron 53 (3): 187-211. 2020.
    In the Euthydemus, Socrates is presented as an eager student of seemingly trivial arts, earning derision both for desiring to master the peculiar art of Euthydemus and Dionysodorus and for studying the harp in his old age. I explain Socrates’ interest in these apparently trivial arts by way of a novel reading of the first protreptic argument, suggesting that the wisdom Socrates praises is complex in nature, securing the happiness of its possessor only insofar as it is composed of both ordinary p…Read more
  •  25
    Nietzsche suggests that part of what it is to experience something as beautiful is to experience it as beneficial in the highest degree. He defends this claim by suggesting that it alone captures the experience of beauty typical of artists. I argue that this is best understood as pointing to an explanatory argument: Nietzsche takes his view to make sense of an effect beautiful objects have on artists. This effect is, I suggest, gratitude. Beautiful objects inspire feelings of gratitude within ar…Read more
  •  7
    The Freedom-based Critique of Well-Being’s Exclusive Moral Claim
    Journal of Human Development and Capabilities 1-16. forthcoming.
    Amartya Sen has suggested that the moral significance of freedom undermines the view that well-being alone possesses fundamental moral worth. Sen’s efforts to establish this claim, however, seem to fall short: he attempts to establish freedom’s independent moral significance by pointing to the value of autonomy, but explains the value of autonomy in terms of its role as an element of well-being. Nonetheless, I take it that Sen is very much on the right track: well-being is not the only fundament…Read more