•  2905
    A Direct Kantian Duty to Animals
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (3): 338-358. 2014.
    Kant's view that we have only indirect duties to animals fails to capture the intuitive notion that wronging animals transgresses duties we owe to those animals. Here I argue that a suitably modified Kantianism can allow for direct duties to animals and, in particular, an imperfect duty to promote animal welfare without unduly compromising its core theoretical commitments, especially its commitments concerning the source and nature of our duties toward rational beings. The basis for such duties …Read more
  •  1362
    Kantian paternalism and suicide intervention
    In Christian Coons Michael Weber (ed.), Paternalism: Theory and Practice, Cambridge University Press. 2013.
    Defends Kantian paternalism: Interference with an individual’s liberty for her own sake is justified absent her actual consent only to the extent that such interference stands a reasonable chance of preventing her from exercising her liberty irrationally in light of the rationally chosen ends that constitute her conception of the good. More specifically, interference with an individual’s liberty is permissible only if, by interfering, we stand a reasonable chance of preventing that agent from pe…Read more
  •  1014
    The Black Lives Matter movement has called for the abolition of capital punishment in response to what it calls “the war against Black people” and “Black communities.” This article defends the two central contentions in the movement’s abolitionist stance: first, that US capital punishment practices represent a wrong to black communities rather than simply a wrong to particular black capital defendants or particular black victims of murder, and second, that the most defensible remedy for this wro…Read more
  •  716
    Race, Capital Punishment, and the Cost of Murder
    Philosophical Studies 127 (2): 255-282. 2006.
    Numerous studies indicate that racial minorities are both more likely to be executed for murder and that those who murder them are less likely to be executed than if they murder whites. Death penalty opponents have long attempted to use these studies to argue for a moratorium on capital punishment. Whatever the merits of such arguments, they overlook the fact that such discrimination alters the costs of murder; racial discrimination imposes higher costs on minorities for murdering through toug…Read more
  •  636
    Finding the Good in Grief: What Augustine Knew but Meursault Couldn't
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 3 (1): 91-105. 2017.
    Meursault, the protagonist of Camus' The Stranger, is unable to grieve, a fact that ultimately leads to his condemnation and execution. Given the emotional distresses involved in grief, should we envy Camus or pity him? I defend the latter conclusion. As St. Augustine seemed to dimly recognize, the pains of grief are integral to the process of bereavement, a process that both motivates and provides a distinctive opportunity to attain the good of self-knowledge.
  •  580
    The implications of ego depletion for the ethics and politics of manipulation
    In C. Coons M. E. Weber (ed.), Manipulation:Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press. pp. 201-220. 2014.
    A significant body of research suggests that self-control and willpower are resources that become depleted as they are exercised. Having to exert self-control and willpower draws down the reservoir of these resources and make subsequent such exercises more difficult. This “ego depletion” renders individuals more susceptible to manipulation by exerting non-rational influences on our choice and conduct. In particular, ego depletion results in later choices being less governable by our powers of se…Read more
  •  538
    Regret, Resilience, and the Nature of Grief
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 16 (4): 486-508. 2019.
    Should we regret the fact that we are often more emotionally resilient in response to the deaths of our loved ones than we might expect -- that the suffering associated with grief often dissipates more quickly and more fully than we anticipate? Dan Moller ("Love and Death") argues that we should, because this resilience epistemically severs us from our loved ones and thereby "deprives us of insight into our own condition." I argue that Moller's conclusion is correct despite resting on a mistaken…Read more
  •  462
    Many economists and social theorists hypothesize that most societies could soon face a ‘post-work’ future, one in which employment and productive labor have a dramatically reduced place in human affairs. Given the centrality of employment to individual identity and its pivotal role as the primary provider of economic and other goods, transitioning to a ‘post-work’ future could prove traumatic and disorienting to many. Policymakers are thus likely to face the difficult choice of the extent to whi…Read more
  •  409
    The Ethics of Choosing Careers and Jobs
    In Bob Fischer (ed.), College Ethics, Oxford University Press. pp. 878-889. 2020.
    Choices of jobs and careers are among the ethically significant choices individuals make. This article argues against the 'maximalist' view that we are ethically required to choose those jobs and careers (among those that are not intrinsically wrong) that are best overall in terms of benfitting others or addressing injustice. Because such choices are often identity-based, the maximalist view is overly demanding, in the way that requiring individuals to marry on the basis of a maximalist demand i…Read more
  •  384
    Paternalism and our Rational Powers
    Mind 126 (501): 123-153. 2017.
    According to rational will views of paternalism, the wrongmaking feature of paternalism is that paternalists disregard or fail to respect the rational will of the paternalized, in effect substituting their own presumably superior judgments about what ends the paternalized ought to pursue or how they ought to pursue them. Here I defend a version of the rational will view appealing to three rational powers that constitute rational agency, which I call recognition, discrimination, and satisfaction.…Read more
  •  380
    Kant and the irrationality of suicide
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 17 (2): 159-176. 2000.
    Though Kant calls the prohibition against suicide the first duty of human beings to themselves, his arguments for this duty lack his characteristic rigor and systematicity. The lack of a single authoritative Kantian approach to suicide casts doubt on what is generally regarded as an extreme and implausible position, to wit, that not only is suicide wrong in every circumstance, but is among the gravest moral wrongs. Here I try to remedy this lack of systematicity in order to show that Kant's pos…Read more
  •  376
    Opponents of medically assisted dying have long appealed to ‘slippery slope’ arguments. One such slippery slope concerns palliative care: that the introduction of medically assisted dying will lead to a diminution in the quality or availability or palliative care for patients near the end of their lives. Empirical evidence from jurisdictions where assisted dying has been practiced for decades, such as Oregon and the Netherlands, indicate that such worries are largely unfounded. The failure of th…Read more
  •  332
    The Euthanasia of Companion Animals
    In Christine Overall (ed.), Pets and People: The Ethics of our Relationships with Companion Animals, Oxford University Press. pp. 264-278. 2017.
    Argues that considerations central to the justification of euthanizing humans do not readily extrapolate to the euthanasia of pets and companion animals; that the comparative account of death's badness can be successfully applied to such animals to ground the justification of their euthanasia and its timing; and proposes that companion animal guardians have authority to decide to euthanize such animals because of their epistemic standing regarding such animals' welfare
  •  322
    Grief's Rationality, Backward and Forward
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2): 255-272. 2017.
    Grief is our emotional response to the deaths of intimates, and so like many other emotional conditions, it can be appraised in terms of its rationality. A philosophical account of grief's rationality should satisfy a contingency constraint, wherein grief is neither intrinsically rational nor intrinsically irrational. Here I provide an account of grief and its rationality that satisfies this constraint, while also being faithful to the phenomenology of grief experience. I begin by arguing agains…Read more
  •  310
    Medically enabled suicides
    In M. Cholbi J. Varelius (ed.), New Directions in the Ethics of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Springer. pp. 169-184. 2015.
    What I call medically enabled suicides have four distinctive features: 1. They are instigated by actions of a suicidal individual, actions she intends to result in a physiological condition that, absent lifesaving medical interventions, would be otherwise fatal to that individual. 2. These suicides are ‘completed’ due to medical personnel acting in accordance with recognized legal or ethical protocols requiring the withholding or withdrawal of care from patients (e.g., following an approved ad…Read more
  •  302
    Many participants in debates about the morality of assisted dying maintain that individuals may only turn to assisted dying as a ‘last resort’, i.e., that a patient ought to be eligible for assisted dying only after she has exhausted certain treatment or care options. Here I argue that this last resort condition is unjustified, that it is in fact wrong to require patients to exhaust a prescribed slate of treatment or care options before being eligible for assisted dying. The last resort conditio…Read more
  •  300
    Can Capital Punishment Survive if Black Lives Matter?
    with Alex Madva
    In Michael Cholbi, Brandon Hogan, Alex Madva & Benjamin Yost (eds.), The Movement for Black Lives: Philosophical Perspectives. forthcoming.
    Drawing upon empirical studies of racial discrimination dating back to the 1940’s, the Movement for Black Lives platform calls for the abolition of capital punishment. Our purpose here is to defend the Movement’s call for death penalty abolition in terms congruent with its claim that the death penalty in the U.S. is a “racist practice” that “devalues Black lives.” We first sketch the jurisprudential history of race and capital punishment in the U.S., wherein courts have occasionally expressed wo…Read more
  •  268
    Kant on euthanasia and the duty to die: clearing the air
    Journal of Medical Ethics 41 (8): 607-610. 2015.
    Thanks to recent scholarship, Kant is no longer seen as the dogmatic opponent of suicide he appears at first glance. However, some interpreters have recently argued for a Kantian view of the morality of suicide with surprising, even radical, implications. More specifically, they have argued that Kantianism requires that those with dementia or other rationality-eroding conditions end their lives before their condition results in their loss of identity as moral agents, and requires subjecting the …Read more
  •  262
    The murderer at the door: What Kant should have said
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (1): 17-46. 2009.
    Embarrassed by the apparent rigorism Kant expresses so bluntly in 'On a Supposed Right to Lie,' numerous contemporary Kantians have attempted to show that Kant's ethics can justify lying in specific circumstances, in particular, when lying to a murderer is necessary in order to prevent her from killing another innocent person. My aim is to improve upon these efforts and show that lying to prevent the death of another innocent person could be required in Kantian terms. I argue (1) that our perfec…Read more
  •  257
    After establishing that the requirement that those criminals who stand for execution be mentally competent can be given a recognizably retributivist rationale, I suggest that not only it is difficult to show that executing the incompetent is more cruel than executing the competent, but that opposing the execution of the incompetent fits ill with the recent abolitionist efforts on procedural concerns. I then propose two avenues by which abolitionists could incorporate such opposition into their e…Read more
  •  255
    The moral conversion of rational egoists
    Social Theory and Practice 37 (4): 533-556. 2011.
    One principal challenge to the rationalist thesis that the demands of morality are requirements of rationality has been that posed by the "rational egoist." In attempting to answer's the egoist's challenge, some rationalists have supposed that an adequate reply must take the form of a deductive argument that "converts" the egoist by showing that her position is contradictory, arbitrary, or violates some precept that defines practical rationality as such. Here I argue (a) that such rationalist re…Read more
  •  248
    A Kantian Defense of Prudential Suicide
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 7 (4): 489-515. 2010.
    Kant's claim that the rational will has absolute value or dignity appears to render any prudential suicide morally impermissible. Although the previous appeals of Kantians (e. g., David Velleman) to the notion that pain or mental anguish can compromise dignity and justify prudential suicide are unsuccessful, these appeals suggest three constraints that an adequate Kantian defense of prudential suicide must meet. Here I off er an account that meets these constraints. Central to this account is th…Read more
  •  203
    Moral Expertise and the Credentials Problem
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (4): 323-334. 2007.
    Philosophers have harbored doubts about the possibility of moral expertise since Plato. I argue that irrespective of whether moral experts exist, identifying who those experts are is insurmountable because of the credentials problem: Moral experts have no need to seek out others’ moral expertise, but moral non-experts lack sufficient knowledge to determine whether the advice provided by a putative moral expert in response to complex moral situations is correct and hence whether an individual is …Read more
  •  200
    Because an increasing number of patients have medical conditions that render them incompetent at making their own medical choices, more and more medical choices are now made by surrogates, often patient family members. However, many studies indicate that surrogates often do not discharge their responsibilities adequately, and in particular, do not choose in accordance with what those patients would have chosen for themselves, especially when it comes to end-of-life medical choices. This chapter …Read more
  •  196
    Depression, listlessness, and moral motivation
    Ratio 24 (1): 28-45. 2011.
    Motivational internalism (MI) holds that, necessarily, if an agent judges that she is morally obligated to ø, then, that agent is, to at least some minimal extent, motivated to ø. Opponents of MI sometimes invoke depression as a counterexample on the grounds that depressed individuals appear to sincerely affirm moral judgments but are ‘listless’ and unmotivated by such judgments. Such listlessness is a credible counterexample to MI, I argue, only if the actual clinical disorder of depression, ra…Read more
  •  184
    A plethora of promises — or none at all
    American Philosophical Quarterly 51 (3): 261-272. 2014.
    Utilitarians are supposed to have difficulty accounting for our obligation to keep promises. But utilitarians also face difficulties concerning our obligation to make promises. Consider any situation in which the options available to me are acts A, B, C… n, and A is utility maximizing. Call A+ the course of action consisting of A plus my promising to perform A. Since there appear to be a wide range of instances in which A+ has greater net utility then A, utilitarianism obligates us to make far m…Read more
  •  182
    The duty to die and the burdensomeness of living
    Bioethics 24 (8): 412-420. 2010.
    This article addresses the question of whether the arguments for a duty to die given by John Hardwig, the most prominent philosophical advocate of such a duty, are sound. Hardwig believes that the duty to die is relatively widespread among those with burdensome illnesses, dependencies, or medical conditions. I argue that although there are rare circumstances in which individuals have a duty to die, the situations Hardwig describes are not among these.After reconstructing Hardwig's argument for s…Read more
  •  176
    Suicide
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2012.
  •  170
    That Kant’s moral thought is invoked by both advocates and opponents of a right to assisted dying attests to both the allure and and the elusiveness of Kant’s moral thought. In particular, the theses that individuals have a right to a ‘death with dignity’ and that assisting someone to die contravenes her dignity appear to gesture at one of Kant’s signature moral notions, dignity. The purposes of this article are to outline Kant’s understanding of dignity and its implications for the ethics of as…Read more
  •  170
    What is Wrong with “What is Wrong with Rational Suicide”
    Philosophia 40 (2): 285-293. 2012.
    In “What is Wrong with Rational Suicide,” Pilpel and Amsel develop a counterexample that allegedly confounds attempts to condition the moral permissibility of suicide on its rationality. In this counterexample, a healthy middle aged woman with significant life accomplishments, but no dependents, disease, or mental disorder opts to end her life painlessly after reading philosophical texts that persuade her that life is meaningless and bereft of intrinsic value. Many people would judge her suicide…Read more