•  184
    Agent-based Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Action Guidance
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (1): 50-69. 2009.
    Agent-based accounts of virtue ethics, such as the one provided by Michael Slote, base the rightness of action in the motive from which it proceeds. A frequent objection to agent-basing is that it does not allow us to draw the commonsense distinction between doing the right thing and doing it for the right reasons, that is, between act-evaluation and agent-appraisal. I defend agent-basing against this objection, but argue that a more fundamental problem for this account is its apparent failure t…Read more
  •  152
    It has become common to distinguish between altruistic and commercial contract motherhood (or ‘surrogacy’). Altruistic arrangements are based on the ‘gift relationship’: a woman is motivated by altruism to have a baby for an infertile couple, who are free to reciprocate as they see fit. By contrast, in commercial arrangements both parties are motivated by personal gain to enter a legally enforceable agreement, which stipulates that the contract mother or ‘surrogate’ is to bear a child for the in…Read more
  •  128
    Right action and the non-virtuous agent
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (1): 80-92. 2011.
    According to qualified-agent virtue ethics, an action is right if and only if it is what a virtuous agent would characteristically do in the circumstances. I discuss two closely related objections to this view, both of which concern the actions of the non-virtuous. The first is that this criterion sometimes gives the wrong result, for in some cases a non-virtuous agent should not do what a virtuous person would characteristically do. A second objection is it altogether fails to apply whenever th…Read more
  •  107
    The ethics of surrogacy: women's reproductive labour
    Journal of Medical Ethics 21 (6): 345-349. 1995.
    The aim of this article is to establish whether there is anything intrinsically immoral about surrogacy arrangements from the perspective of the surrogate mother herself. Specific attention is paid to the claim that surrogacy is similar to prostitution in that it reduces women's reproductive labour to a form of alienated and/or dehumanized labour
  •  91
    Rightness and Goodness in Agent-based Virtue Ethics
    Journal of Philosophical Research 36 103-114. 2011.
    In Morals from Motives (2001) Michael Slote puts forward an agent-based virtue ethics that purports to derive an account of deontic terms from aretaic evaluations of motives or character traits. In this view, an action is right if and only if it proceeds from a good or virtuous motive or at least does not come from a bad motive, and wrong if it comes from a bad motive. I argue that Slote does not provide an account of right action at all, that is, if ‘right action’ is understood in the strict de…Read more
  •  89
    Virtue ethics and right action
    In Daniel C. Russell (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Virtue Ethics, Cambridge University Press. 2013.
    A discussion of three virtue -ethical accounts of right action: a qualified-agent account, agent-based account, and a target-centred account
  •  80
    Interpretations, perspectives and intentions in surrogate motherhood
    Journal of Medical Ethics 26 (5): 404-409. 2000.
    In this paper we examine the questions “What does it mean to be a surrogate mother?” and “What would be an appropriate perspective for a surrogate mother to have on her pregnancy?” In response to the objection that such contracts are alienating or dehumanising since they require women to suppress their evolving perspective on their pregnancies, liberal supporters of surrogate motherhood argue that the freedom to contract includes the freedom to enter a contract to bear a child for an infertile c…Read more
  •  75
    Can virtuous people emerge from tragic dilemmas having acted well?
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (1). 2007.
    A tragic dilemma is thought to arise when an agent, through no fault of her own, finds herself in a situation where she must choose between two courses of action, both of which it would be wrong to undertake. I focus on tragic dilemmas that are resolvable, that is, where a reason can be given in favour of one course of action over another, and my aim is to examine whether Hursthouse's virtue-ethical account of right action succeeds in avoiding two problems presented by tragic dilemmas. The first…Read more
  •  70
    Intentional Parenthood and the Nuclear Family
    Journal of Medical Humanities 23 (2): 107-118. 2002.
    Reproductive techniques and practices, ranging from ordinary birth-control measures and artificial insemination to embryo transfer and surrogate motherhood, have greatly enhanced our range of reproductive choices. As a consequence, they pose a number of difficult moral and legal questions with regard to the formation of a family and our conception of parenthood. A view that is becoming increasingly common is that parental rights and responsibilities should not be based on genetic relationships b…Read more
  •  64
    Motive and Right Action
    Philosophia 38 (2): 405-415. 2010.
    Some philosophers believe that a change in motive alone is sometimes sufficient to bring about a change in the deontic status (rightness or wrongness) of an action. I refer to this position as ‘weak motivism’, and distinguish it from ‘strong’ and ‘partial motivism’. I examine a number of cases where our intuitive judgements appear to support the weak motivist’s thesis, and argue that in each case an alternative explanation can be given for why a change in motive brings about (or, i…Read more
  •  61
    In defence of agent-based virtue ethics
    Philosophical Papers 34 (2): 273-288. 2005.
    In ‘Against agent-based virtue ethics' (2004) Michael Brady rejects agent-based virtue ethics on the grounds that it fails to capture the commonsense distinction between an agent's doing the right thing, and her doing it for the right reason. In his view, the failure to account for this distinction has paradoxical results, making it unable to explain why an agent has a duty to perform a given action. I argue that Brady's objection relies on the assumption that an agent-based account is committed…Read more
  •  59
    Surrogate Motherhood and Abortion for Fetal Abnormality
    Bioethics 29 (8): 529-535. 2015.
    A diagnosis of fetal abnormality presents parents with a difficult – even tragic – moral dilemma. Where this diagnosis is made in the context of surrogate motherhood there is an added difficulty, namely that it is not obvious who should be involved in making decisions about abortion, for the person who would normally have the right to decide – the pregnant woman – does not intend to raise the child. This raises the question: To what extent, if at all, should the intended parents be involved in d…Read more
  •  59
    Accidental rightness
    Philosophia 37 (1): 91-104. 2009.
    In this paper I argue that the disagreement between modern moral philosophers and (some) virtue ethicists about whether motive affects rightness is a result of conceptual disagreement, and that when they develop a theory of ‘right action,’ the two parties respond to two very different questions. Whereas virtue ethicists tend to use ‘right’ as interchangeable with ‘good’ or ‘virtuous’ and as implying moral praise, modern moral philosophers use it as roughly equivalent to ‘in accordance with moral…Read more
  •  56
    The Handbook of Virtue Ethics (edited book)
    with S. van Hooft, N. Athanassoulis, J. Kawall, and J. Oakley
    Acumen Publishing. 2013.
    Virtue ethics has emerged as a distinct field within moral theory - whether as an alternative account of right action or as a conception of normativity which departs entirely from the obligatoriness of morality - and has proved itself invaluable to many aspects of contemporary applied ethics. Virtue ethics now flourishes in philosophy, sociology and theology and its applications extend to law, politics and bioethics. "The Handbook of Virtue Ethics" brings together leading international scholars …Read more
  •  50
    Qualified-agent virtue ethics
    South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (2): 219-228. 2011.
    Qualified-agent virtue ethics provides an account of right action in terms of the virtuous agent. It has become one of the most popular, but also most frequently criticized versions of virtue ethics. Many of the objections rest on the mistaken assumption that proponents of qualified-agent virtue ethics share the same view when it comes to fundamental questions about the meaning of the term ‘right action’ and the function of an account of right action. My aim in this paper is not to defend qualif…Read more
  •  48
    Intentional Parenthood: Responsibilities in Surrogate Motherhood
    Health Care Analysis 10 (2): 165-175. 2002.
    In recent years, a number of writers dealingwith questions over parenthood that arisein the context of reproductive technologies andsurrogate motherhood, have appealed to thenotion of ``intentional parenthood''. Basingtheir argument on liberal values such asindividual autonomy, the freedom to entercontracts, the right to privacy, and individualself-fulfilment, they argue that contractuallystated intentions, rather than genetic orgestational relationships, should form thebasis of parental rights.…Read more
  •  41
    New Waves in Ethics (review)
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4): 819-819. 2012.
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Volume 0, Issue 0, Page 1, Ahead of Print
  •  39
    Surrogacy, Compensation, and Legal Parentage: Against the Adoption Model
    Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 12 (3): 383-387. 2015.
    Surrogate motherhood is treated as a form of adoption in many countries: the birth mother and her partner are presumed to be the parents of the child, while the intended parents have to adopt the baby once it is born. Other than compensation for expenses related to the pregnancy, payment to surrogates is not permitted. We believe that the failure to compensate surrogate mothers for their labour as well as the significant risks they undertake is both unfair and exploitative. We accept that introd…Read more
  •  36
    Virtuous motives, moral luck, and assisted death
    South African Journal of Philosophy 23 (1): 20-33. 2004.
    In this paper I outline a motive-based virtue account of right action, according to which an action is right if it expresses or exhibits virtuous motive, and which defines virtue in terms of human flourishing. I indicate how this account allows us to deal with the problem of consequential luck. By applying this account to the question of whether it is ever morally right or accept able to assist in someone's death, I demonstrate how it also allows us to deal with the problem of circumstantial luc…Read more
  •  33
    Virtue Theory and Applied Ethics
    South African Journal of Philosophy 21 (2): 133-143. 2002.
    Critics of virtue ethics have argued that its focus on character rather than action, as well as its rejection of universal rules of right action renders virtue ethics unable to shed much light on the question of what ought and ought not to be done in specific situations. According to them, this explains why so few attempts have been made to apply virtue theory to specific moral questions. In this paper I aim to go some way towards developing a version of virtue theory that satisfies four constra…Read more
  •  14
    Motive and Right Action
    Philosophia 38 (2): 405-415. 2010.
  •  13
  •  11
    Kevin Timpe and Craig A. Boyd , Virtues and Their Vices (review)
    Social Theory and Practice 42 (4): 901-905. 2016.
  •  11
    Virtue Ethics: Retrospect and Prospect (edited book)
    with Elisa Grimi, John Haldane, Maria Margarita Mauri Alvarez, Michael Wladika, Marco Damonte, Michael Slote, Randall Curren, Christian B. Miller, Christopher D. Owens, Scott J. Roniger, Michele Mangini, Nancy Snow, and Christopher Toner
    Springer. 2019.
    The rise of the phenomenon of virtue ethics in recent years has increased at a rapid pace. Such an explosion carries with it a number of great possibilities, as well as risks. This volume has been written to contribute a multi-faceted perspective to the current conversation about virtue. Among many other thought-provoking questions, the collection addresses the following: What are the virtues, and how are they enumerated? What are the internal problems among ethicists, and what are the objection…Read more
  •  9
    Rightness and Goodness in Agent-Based Virtue Ethics
    Journal of Philosophical Research 36 103-114. 2011.
    In Morals from Motives Michael Slote puts forward an agent-based virtue ethics that purports to derive an account of deontic terms from aretaic evaluations of motives or character traits. In this view, an action is right if and only if it proceeds from a good or virtuous motive or at least does not come from a bad motive, and wrong if it comes from a bad motive. I argue that Slote does not provide an account of right action at all, that is, if ‘right action’ is understood in the strict deontic s…Read more
  •  9
    Virtue Ethics: Retrospect and Prospect
    with Elisa Grimi, Margarita Mauri Alvarez, Randall Curren, Marco Damonte, John Haldane, Michele Mangini, Christian B. Miller, Christopher D. Owens, Scott J. Roniger, Michael Slote, Nancy E. Snow, Christopher Toner, and Michael Wladika
    Springer Verlag. 2019.
  •  7
    What About Ought?
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 5 (2): 1-6. 2010.
    No abstract.
  •  6
    Intentional Parenthood and the Nuclear Family
    Journal of Medical Humanities 23 (1): 107-118. 2002.
    Reproductive techniques and practices, ranging from ordinary birth-control measures and artificial insemination to embryo transfer and surrogate motherhood, have greatly enhanced our range of reproductive choices. As a consequence, they pose a number of difficult moral and legal questions with regard to the formation of a family and our conception of parenthood. A view that is becoming increasingly common is that parental rights and responsibilities should not be based on genetic relationships b…Read more