•  17
    Articulating the Moral Community: Towards a Constructive Ethical Pragmatism (review)
    Tandf: Australasian Journal of Philosophy 1-3. forthcoming.
  •  1
  •  16
  •  7
    Critical Notice
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (4): 549-573. 2011.
  •  36
    In the Groundwork Kant dismisses theistic principles, along with all other competitors to his Categorical Imperative, claiming that they are heteronomous. By contrast, he asserts, the fundamental moral principle must be a principle of autonomy. I argue that the best case for this Kantian conclusion conflates our access to the reasons for our commitments with an ability to state these reasons such that they could figure in an argument. This conflation, in turn, results from a certain Kantian c…Read more
  •  3
    Kant’s claim that virtue has nothing to do with the content of our desires, but depends only on the strength of will needed to manage our desires, depends on an unattractive conception of inclination that he inherits from Hume. Kantians can replace this with a better view of desire without giving up what is most attractive about the Kantian approach: the claim that reason can motivate, and the associated illuminating account of practical freedom.
  •  3
    Love and Agency
    In Adrienne Martin (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Love in Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Our ordinary talk reflects a deep tension in the way that we think about love. On the one hand, we regard love as an especially important expression of our agency. Yet, on the other hand, we also think of love as something that happens to us, in the face of which we are passive and can be powerless. While it’s hard to see how to hold these two ways of thinking of love together, in this paper I argue that we must find some way of doing so. I argue that we must think of love as a contentful atti…Read more
  •  206
    Beyond Words: Inarticulable Reasons and Reasonable Commitments
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (3): 623-641. 2019.
    We often come to value someone or something through experience of that person or thing. You may thereby come to embrace a value that you did not grasp prior to the experience in question. Moreover, it seems that in a large and important subset of cases you could not have fully appreciated that value merely by considering a report of the reasons or arguments that purport to establish that it is valuable. Despite its ubiquity, this phenomenon goes missing in a great deal of contemporary work in…Read more
  • I consider how Christian philosophers should decide which questions are worth asking. I provide an interpretation and defense of Alvin Plantinga’s claim that Christian philosophers should strive for autonomy, and argue that this rules out some ways of settling on our questions. I then argue that the questions in which Christian philosophers should take an interest are those arising from or continuous with a distinctively Christian way of life.
  • Freedom and Influence in Formative Education
    In David Schmidtz & Carmen Pavel (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Freedom. 2018.
    The principle that children’s freedom should be preserved in their upbringing is sometimes thought to provide an alternative to imposing a particular conception of the good on them. But to sustain the alternative we must distinguish between those desires and proclivities that are educated into a person and those that are his own. Several philosophers appeal to innate or presocial tendencies to ground this distinction, but that approach fails. The ability to exercise first person authority ove…Read more
  •  4
    Kant rejects all of the standard accounts of the dependence of morality on religious claims or commitment. He nevertheless thinks that morality “leads to” religion. I defend an account of this “leading to” relationship, arguing that it is the result of Kant’s struggle to capture the practical import of the consequences of our actions within a moral theory that rejects the idea that we must maximize the good. On this view, the best way to acknowledge that the outcomes of our actions matter, wh…Read more
  •  3
    Many thinkers agree that facilitating the development of students’ autonomy is a proper aim of education generally and higher education in particular. I defend a version of the autonomy view, but not as I think its other advocates imagine it. I suggest that an important aim of education is the facilitation of intellectual virtues. What is right about the idea that education should facilitate students’ autonomy is best captured in virtue terms as intellectual charity and humility
  •  262
    Against Beneficence: A Normative Account of Love
    Ethics 119 (1): 142-170. 2008.
    I argue that rather than aiming at the well-being of those whom we love, we should aim to share in their ends. The former stance runs the risk of being objectionably paternalistic and, as I explain, only the latter makes reciprocal relationships possible. I end by diagnosing our attraction to the idea that we should promote our loved-ones’ well-being.
  •  39
    Educating for autonomy: An old-fashioned view
    Social Philosophy and Policy 31 (1): 257-275. 2014.
    I argue that we cannot adequately characterize the aims of education in terms of some formal conception of what it is to think well. Implementing any such aim requires reliance on and communication of further, substantive normative commitments. This reveals that a standard contrast between an old-fashioned approach to education that aims to communicate a particular normative outlook, and a progressive approach that aims to develop skills of critical reasoning and reflection is confused and mis…Read more
  •  230
    Moral Education in the Liberal State
    Journal of Practical Ethics 1 (2): 24-63. 2013.
    I argue that political liberals should not support the monopoly of a single educational approach in state sponsored schools. Instead, they should allow reasonable citizens latitude to choose the worldview in which their own children are educated. I begin by defending a particular conception of political liberalism, and its associated requirement of public reason, against the received interpretation. I argue that the values of respect and civic friendship that motivate the public reason requireme…Read more
  •  73
    Critical Notice of Arthur Ripstein's Force and Freedom
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (4): 549-573. 2011.
    Ripstein’s Kantian argument for the authority of the state purports to demonstrate that state authority is a necessary condition of each individual’s freedom. Ripstein regards an individual as free just in case her entitlement to control what is hers is not violated. After questioning whether his approach adequately distinguishes standards of legitimacy from standards of ideal justice, I argue for the superiority of an alternative conception of freedom. On the view that I defend a person is f…Read more
  •  2
    Kantian Ethics
    In Christian Miller (ed.), Continuum Companion to Ethics, Continuum. pp. 168. 2011.
    I articulate and defend the most central claims of contemporary Kantian moral theory. I also explain some of the most important internal disagreements in the field, contrasting two approaches to Kantian ethics: Kantian Constructivism and Kantian Realism. I connect the former to Kant’s Formula of Universal Law and the latter to his Formula of Humanity. I end by discussing applications of the Formula of Humanity in normative ethics.
  •  137
    Dealing with the past: responsibility and personal history
    Philosophical Studies 164 (1): 141-161. 2013.
    I argue that unfortunate formative circumstances do not undermine the warrant for either responsibility or blame. I then diagnose the tendency to think that formative circumstances do matter in this way, arguing that knowledge of these circumstances can play an essential epistemic role in our interpersonal interactions
  •  100
    Kant’s Political Philosophy
    Philosophy Compass 7 (12): 896-909. 2012.
    Kant’s political theory stands in the social contract tradition, but departs significantly from earlier versions of social contract theory. Most importantly Kant holds, against Hobbes and Locke, that we have not merely a pragmatic reason but an obligation to exit the state of nature and found a state. Kant holds that each person has an innate right to freedom, but it is possible to simultaneously honor everyone’s right only under the rule of law. Since we are obligated to respect each person’s r…Read more
  •  80
    I attempt to vindicate our authority to create new practical reasons for others by making choices of own own. In The Doctrine of Right Kant argues that we have an obligation to leave the Juridical State of Nature and found the state. In a less familiar passage in Religion within the Bounds of Mere Reason he argues for an obligation to leave what he calls the Ethical State of Nature and join together in the Moral Community. I read both texts as addressing and trying to resolve a tension between o…Read more
  •  117
    The beginning of community: Politics in the face of disagreement
    Philosophical Quarterly 60 (238): 50-71. 2010.
    Rawls' requirement that citizens of liberal democracies support only policies which they believe can be justified in 'public reason' depends on a certain ideal for the relationships between citizens. This is a valuable ideal, and thus citizens have reasons to try to achieve it. But it is not always possible to find the common ground that we would need in order to do so, and thus we should reject Rawls' strong claim that we have an obligation to defend our views in public reason. Because I recogn…Read more
  • Awarding Custody: Children’s Interests and the Fathers’ Rights Movement
    Public Affairs Quarterly 24 (4): 257-278. 2010.
    Recently there has been a flurry of interest and activity, both scholarly and political, about the role and importance of fathers in child rearing. One manifestation of this interest is a movement that began in the United Kingdom, but is increasingly influential in the United States and Canada, asserting fathers’ rights in custody disputes following divorce. Advocates assert that fathers should have equal standing with mothers in such cases, and that current practice fails to grant them this sta…Read more