•  82
    Moralising to Impress
    The Philosophers' Magazine 91 46-52. 2020.
  •  248
    Moral grandstanding and political polarization: A multi-study consideration
    with Joshua B. Grubbs, Brandon Warmke, and A. Shanti James
    Journal of Research in Personality 88. 2020.
    The present work posits that social motives, particularly status seeking in the form of moral grandstanding, are likely at least partially to blame for elevated levels of affective polarization and ideological extremism in the U.S. In Study 1, results from both undergraduates (N = 981; Mean age = 19.4; SD = 2.1; 69.7% women) and a cross-section of U.S. adults matched to 2010 census norms (N = 1,063; Mean age = 48.20, SD = 16.38; 49.8% women) indicated that prestige-motived grandstanding was cons…Read more
  •  27
    We are all guilty of it. We call people terrible names in conversation or online. We vilify those with whom we disagree, and make bolder claims than we could defend. We want to be seen as taking the moral high ground not just to make a point, or move a debate forward, but to look a certain way--incensed, or compassionate, or committed to a cause. We exaggerate. In other words, we grandstand. Nowhere is this more evident than in public discourse today, and especially as it plays out across the i…Read more
  •  474
    Moral grandstanding as a threat to free expression
    Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2): 170-189. 2020.
    Moral grandstanding, or the use of moral talk for self-promotion, is a threat to free expression. When grandstanding is introduced in a public forum, several ideals of free expression are less likely to be realized. Popular views are less likely to be challenged, people are less free to entertain heterodox ideas, and the cost of changing one’s mind goes up.
  •  260
    Moral Grandstanding in Public Discourse: Status-Seeking Motives as a Potential Explanatory Mechanism in Predicting Conflict
    with Joshua B. Grubbs, Brandon Warmke, A. Shanti James, and W. Keith Campbell
    PLoS ONE 14 (10). 2019.
    Public discourse is often caustic and conflict-filled. This trend seems to be particularly evident when the content of such discourse is around moral issues (broadly defined) and when the discourse occurs on social media. Several explanatory mechanisms for such conflict have been explored in recent psychological and social-science literatures. The present work sought to examine a potentially novel explanatory mechanism defined in philosophical literature: Moral Grandstanding. According to philos…Read more
  •  226
    Relational Sufficientarianism and Basic Income
    In Michael Cholbi & Michael Weber (eds.), The Future of Work, Technology, and Basic Income, Routledge. pp. 49-61. 2019.
    Basic income policies have recently enjoyed a great deal of discussion, but they are not a natural fit with views of distributive or social justice endorsed by many moral and political philosophers. This essay develops and defends a new view of social justice, called relational sufficientarianism, which is more compatible with a universal basic income. Relational sufficientarianism holds that persons in a just society must have sufficient social status, but not necessarily equal social status. I…Read more
  •  474
    Rethinking the Principle of Fair Play
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4): 612-631. 2018.
    The principle of fair play is widely thought to require simply that costs and benefits be distributed fairly. This gloss on the principle, while not entirely inaccurate, has invited a host of popular objections based on misunderstandings about fair play. Central to many of these objections is a failure to treat the principle of fair play as a transactional principle—one that allocates special obligations and rights among persons as a result of their interactions. I offer an interpretation of the…Read more
  •  5542
    Moral Grandstanding
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 44 (3): 197-217. 2016.
    Moral grandstanding is a pervasive feature of public discourse. Many of us can likely recognize that we have engaged in grandstanding at one time or another. While there is nothing new about the phenomenon of grandstanding, we think that it has not received the philosophical attention it deserves. In this essay, we provide an account of moral grandstanding as the use of public discourse for moral self-promotion. We then show that our account, with support from some standard theses of social psyc…Read more
  •  582
    A Fair Play Account of Legitimate Political Authority
    Legal Theory 23 (1): 55-67. 2017.
    There is an emerging consensus among political philosophers that state legitimacy involves something more than—or perhaps other than—political obligation. Yet the principle of fair play, which many take to be a promising basis for political obligation, has been largely absent from discussions of the revised conception of legitimacy. This paper shows how the principle of fair play can generate legitimate political authority by drawing on a neglected feature of the principle—its stipulation that m…Read more
  •  18
    Anticipating the ethical and political challenges of human nanotechnologies
    with David Guston, John Parsi, and Justin Tosi
    In Fritz Allhoff, Patrick Lin, James Moor & John Weckert (eds.), Nanoethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Nanotechnology, Wiley. pp. 185-197. 2007.
  •  313
    David Foster Wallace on the Good Life
    In Steven M. Cahn & Maureen Eckert (eds.), Freedom and the Self: Essays on the Philosophy of David Foster Wallace, Columbia University Press. pp. 133-168. 2015.
    This chapter presents David Foster Wallace's views about three positions regarding the good life—ironism, hedonism, and narrative theories. Ironism involves distancing oneself from everything one says or does, and putting on Wallace's so-called “mask of ennui.” Wallace said that the notion appeals to ironists because it insulates them from criticism. However, he reiterated that ironists can be criticized for failing to value anything. Hedonism states that a good life consists in pleasure. Wallac…Read more
  •  566
    The philosophical literature on state legitimacy has recently seen a significant conceptual revision. Several philosophers have argued that the state's right to rule is better characterized not as a claim right to obedience, but as a power right. There have been few attempts to show that traditional justifications for the claim right might also be used to justify a power right, and there have been no such attempts involving the principle of fair play, which is widely regarded as the most promisi…Read more
  •  1507
    Punishment and Forgiveness
    In Jonathan Jacobs & Jonathan Jackson (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Criminal Justice Ethics, Routledge. pp. 203-216. 2017.
    In this paper we explore the relationship between forgiving and punishment. We set out a number of arguments for the claim that if one forgives a wrongdoer, one should not punish her. We then argue that none of these arguments is persuasive. We conclude by reflecting on the possibility of institutional forgiveness in the criminal justice setting and on the differences between forgiveness and acts of mercy.
  •  420
    Playing Fair and Following the Rules
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (2): 134-141. 2017.
    In his paper “Fairness, Political Obligation, and the Justificatory Gap” (published in the Journal of Moral Philosophy), Jiafeng Zhu argues that the principle of fair play cannot require submission to the rules of a cooperative scheme, and that when such submission is required, the requirement is grounded in consent. I propose a better argument for the claim that fair play requires submission to the rules than the one Zhu considers. I also argue that Zhu’s attribution of consent to people common…Read more