•  16
    Discourse on food ethics often advocates the anti-capitalist idea that we need less capitalism, less growth, and less globalization if we want to make the world a better and more equitable place. This idea is also familiar from much discourse in global ethics, environment, and political theory, more generally. However, many experts argue that this anti-capitalist idea is not supported by reason and argument, and is actually wrong. As part of the roundtable, “Ethics and the Future of the Global F…Read more
  •  233
    What Should We Agree on about the Repugnant Conclusion?
    with Stéphane Zuber, Nikhil Venkatesh, Torbjörn Tännsjö, Christian Tarsney, H. Orri Stefánsson, Katie Steele, Dean Spears, Jeff Sebo, Marcus Pivato, Toby Ord, Yew-Kwang Ng, Michal Masny, William MacAskill, Nicholas Lawson, Kevin Kuruc, Michelle Hutchinson, Johan E. Gustafsson, Hilary Greaves, Lisa Forsberg, Marc Fleurbaey, Diane Coffey, Susumu Cato, Clinton Castro, Tim Campbell, John Broome, Alexander Berger, Nick Beckstead, and Geir B. Asheim
    Utilitas 33 (4): 379-383. 2021.
    The Repugnant Conclusion served an important purpose in catalyzing and inspiring the pioneering stage of population ethics research. We believe, however, that the Repugnant Conclusion now receives too much focus. Avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion should no longer be the central goal driving population ethics research, despite its importance to the fundamental accomplishments of the existing literature.
  •  6
    Quantifying India’s Climate Vulnerability
    with Melissa LoPalo, Dean Spears, and Kevin Kuruc
    In India Policy Forum, NCAER. 2020.
    This paper asks about the climate damages that Indian policymakers can expect. What is the likely magnitude of climate damages, and how sensitive are they to the level of warming? How much worse would climate damages be for Indians under, say, 5° of warming rather than 3°? Understanding the magnitude of climate damages and how rapidly they increase as temperature change increases is critical for finding the right climate mitigation policy. This paper provides projections of India’s climate vulne…Read more
  • Animals, like humans, experience different levels of well-being depending on decisions made by others. As a result, the well-being of animals must be included in any full accounting of the well-being consequences of decisions. However, this is almost never done in large-scale policy and investment analyses, even though it is common to quantify the consequences for human welfare in these decision analyses. This is partly due to prejudice, but increasingly also because we do not currently have goo…Read more
  •  30
    The spectre of the repugnant conclusion and the search for a population axiology that avoids it has endured as a focus of population ethics. This is in part because the repugnant conclusion is often interpreted as a defining problem for totalism, while the implications of averagism and related views are taken to illustrate the theoretical cost of avoiding the repugnant conclusion. However, we show that this interpretation cannot be sustained unless one focuses only on a special case of the repug…Read more
  •  22
    The focus of this chapter is public policy and consequentialism, especially issues that arise in connection with the environment – i.e. the natural world, including non-human animals. We integrate some of the existing literature on environmental economics, welfare economics, and policy with the literature on environmental values and philosophy. The emphasis on environmental policy is motivated by the fact that it is arguably the most philosophically interesting and challenging application of con…Read more
  •  9
    Transparency and openness are broadly endorsed in energy and environmental modelling and analysis, but too little attention is given to the transparency of value-laden assumptions. Current practices for transparency focus on making model source code and data available, documenting key equations and parameter values, and ensuring replicability of results. We argue that, even when followed, these guidelines are insufficient for achieving deep transparency, in the sense that results often remain dr…Read more
  •  8
    The impact of human health co-benefits on evaluations of global climate policy
    with Noah Scovronick, Francis Dennig, Frank Errickson, Marc Fleurbaey, Wei Peng, Robert H. Socolow, Dean Spears, and Fabian Wagner
    Nature Communications 2095 (19). 2019.
    The health co-benefits of CO2 mitigation can provide a strong incentive for climate policy through reductions in air pollutant emissions that occur when targeting shared sources. However, reducing air pollutant emissions may also have an important co-harm, as the aerosols they form produce net cooling overall. Nevertheless, aerosol impacts have not been fully incorporated into cost-benefit modeling that estimates how much the world should optimally mitigate. Here we find that when both co-b…Read more
  •  29
    Does the Repugnant Conclusion have important implications for axiology or for public policy?
    with Dean Spears
    In Oxford Handbook of Population Ethics, . forthcoming.
    Formal arguments have proven that avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion is impossible without rejecting one or more highly plausible population principles. To many, such proofs establish not only a deep challenge for axiology, but also pose an important practical problem of how policymaking can confidently proceed without resolving any of the central questions of population ethics. Here we offer deflationary responses: first to the practical challenge, and then to the more fundamental challenge for …Read more
  •  7
    A standard view in legal and political theory is that, to a first approximation, (1) we should aim to bring about the most legitimate institutions possible to solve the problems that should be solved at the level of politics, and (2) individual people are required to follow the directives of legitimate institutions, at least insofar as those institutions have the authority to issue those directives, and insofar as other considerations are nearly equal.1 On this standard view, the philosophical a…Read more
  •  132
    Many philosophers endorse utilitarian arguments against eating meat along the lines of Peter Singer’s, while others endorse deontological arguments along the lines of Tom Regan’s. This chapter suggests that both types of arguments are too quick. Empirical reasons are outlined for thinking that when one eats meat, that doesn’t make a difference to animals in the way that it would have to for either type of argument to be sound—and this chapter argues that this is true notwithstanding recent “expe…Read more
  •  19
    Consumer Ethics, Harm Footprints, and the Empirical Dimensions of Food Choices
    In Matthew C. Haltema, Terence Cuneo & Andrew Chignell (eds.), Philosophy Comes to Dinner. pp. 163-181. 2015.
  •  10
    Inequality, climate impacts on the future poor, and carbon prices
    with Francis Dennig, Marc Fleurbaey, Asher Siebert, and Robert H. Socolow
    Pnas 112 (52). 2015.
    Integrated assessment models of climate and the economy provide estimates of the social cost of carbon and inform climate policy. We create a variant of the Regional Integrated model of Climate and the Economy (RICE)—a regionally disaggregated version of the Dynamic Integrated model of Climate and the Economy (DICE)—in which we introduce a more fine-grained representation of economic inequalities within the model’s regions. This allows us to model the common observation that climate change impac…Read more
  •  8
    Many political theorists take the phenomenon of market failure to show that arguments for libertarianism fail in a straightforward way. This chapter explains why the most common form of this objection depends on invalid reasoning, and why a more sophisticated examination of the relevant economics has led most contemporary economists and policy experts to a view that might be called Default Libertarianism, according to which the strong default for public policy—even in response to market failures…Read more
  •  6
    The comparative importance for optimal climate policy of discounting, inequalities and catastrophes
    with Francis Dennig, Marc Fleurbaey, and Asher Siebert
    Climatic Change 145. 2017.
    Integrated assessment models (IAMs) of climate and the economy provide estimates of the social cost of carbon and inform climate policy. With the Nested Inequalities Climate Economy model (NICE) (Dennig et al. PNAS 112:15,827–15,832, 2015), which is based on Nordhaus’s Regional Integrated Model of Climate and the Economy (RICE), but also includes inequalities within regions, we investigate the comparative importance of several factors—namely, time preference, inequality aversion, intraregional i…Read more
  •  18
    Impact of population growth and population ethics on climate change mitigation policy
    with Noah Scovronick, Francis Dennig, Marc Fleurbaey, Asher Siebert, Robert H. Socolow, Dean Spears, and Fabian Wagner
    Pnas 114 (46). 2017.
    Future population growth is uncertain and matters for climate policy: higher growth entails more emissions and means more people will be vulnerable to climate-related impacts. We show that how future population is valued importantly determines mitigation decisions. Using the Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy model, we explore two approaches to valuing population: a discounted version of total utilitarianism (TU), which considers total wellbeing and is standard in social cost of carbon dioxide (…Read more
  •  14
    Food, the Environment, and Global Justice
    In Anne Barnhill, Tyler Doggett & Mark Budolfson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics. pp. 67-94. 2016.
    This chapter identifies and critically examines a standard form of argument for organic and vegan alternatives to industrial agriculture. This argument faces important objections to its empirical premises, to its presumption that there is a single food system that minimizes harm and is best for the environment, and to the presumption that the ethically best food system for us to promote is the one that would be best in ideal theory or the one that would be best from the perspective of our own so…Read more
  •  36
    Collective action problems lie behind many core issues in ethics and social philosophy—for example, whether an individual is required to vote, whether it is wrong to consume products that are produced in morally objectionable ways, and many others. In these cases, it matters greatly what we together do, but yet a single individual’s ‘non-cooperative’ choice seems to make no difference to the outcome and also seems to involve no violation of anyone’s rights. Here it is argued that—contrary to inf…Read more
  •  9
    Maximizing the Public Health Benefits from Climate Action
    with George D. Thurston, Sara De Matteis, Kris Murray, Pauline Scheelbeek, Noah Scovronick, Dean Spears, and Paolo Vineis
    Environmental Science and Technology 52 (7). 2018.
  •  8
    Human Health and the Social Cost of Carbon: a primer and a call to action
    with Noah Scovronick, Valeri N. Vasquez, Frank Errickson, Francis Dennig, Antonio Gasparrini, Shakoor Hajat, and Dean Spears
    Epidemiology 30 (5). 2019.
    Over the past few decades, we have improved our understanding of the health impacts of climate change.1 Although many public health researchers have contributed to this knowledge, relatively few are aware of how their work may relate to the social cost of carbon. The social cost of carbon is a core economic concept in climate policy and one that can—and should—benefit directly from research produced by the public health community. The concept’s importance was recently highlighted by this past ye…Read more
  •  20
    Optimal Climate Policy and the Future of World Economic Development
    with Francis Dennig, Marc Fleurbaey, Noah Scovronick, Asher Siebert, Dean Spears, and Fabian Wagner
    The World Bank Economic Review 33. 2019.
    How much should the present generations sacrifice to reduce emissions today, in order to reduce the future harms of climate change? Within climate economics, debate on this question has been focused on so-called “ethical parameters” of social time preference and inequality aversion. We show that optimal climate policy similarly importantly depends on the future of the developing world. In particular, although global poverty is falling and the economic lives of the poor are improving worldwide, l…Read more
  •  34
    In this chapter, Mark Budolfson and Dean Spears analyse the marginal effect of philanthropic donations. The core of their analysis is the observation that marginal good done per dollar donated is a product (in the mathematical sense) of several factors: change in good done per change in activity level of the charity in question, change in activity per change in the charity’s budget size, and change in budget size per change in the individual’s donation to the charity in question. They then discu…Read more
  •  9
    Philosophy and Climate Change (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2021.
    This volume is guided by two thoughts. First, philosophers have much to contribute to the discussion of climate change. Second, reflection on climate change can contribute to our thinking about a range of general topics that are of independent interest to philosophers. This volume will be of interest both to philosophers working on climate change as well as those working in a range of other fields, ranging from public policy to economics to law to empirical disciplines including psychology, the …Read more
  •  151
    Non-cognitivism and rational inference
    Philosophical Studies 153 (2). 2011.
    Non-cognitivism might seem to offer a plausible account of evaluative judgments, at least on the assumption that there is a satisfactory solution to the Frege-Geach problem. However, Cian Dorr has argued that non-cognitivism remains implausible even assuming that the Frege-Geach problem can be solved, on the grounds that non-cognitivism still has to classify some paradigmatically rational inferences as irrational. Dorr's argument is ingenious and at first glance seems decisive. However, in this …Read more