• Why So Serious? The Nature and Value of Play
    Wiley: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
  •  73
    Why So Serious? The Nature and Value of Play
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
  •  10
    Fun and (striving) games: playfulness and agential fluidity
    Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 1-11. forthcoming.
    Games: Agency as Art is wonderful, and in my opinion the most important book in the philosophy of games since Bernard Suits’ The Grasshopper. In effect, Nguyen takes Suits’ idea of ‘reverse English...
  •  12
    In this essay we argue that there is a contradiction lurking at the heart of Bernard Suits's seminal book on the philosophy of games, The Grasshopper, which has oddly gone unnoticed for 43 years. Suits argues that games need inefficiency and defines inefficiency such that it wouldn't exist in Utopia. This trivially entails that there could be no games in Utopia, yet the whole normative point of The Grasshopper is that games would be the only worthwhileactivity in Utopia. We then diagnose Suits's…Read more
  •  42
    Voting for Less than the Best
    Journal of Political Philosophy 29 (3): 404-426. 2021.
    Journal of Political Philosophy, EarlyView.
  •  15
    Games and the Good Life
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 19 (1). 2021.
    It is widely agreed that play and games contribute to the good life. One might naturally wonder how games in particular so contribute? Granted, games can be very good, what exactly is so good about them when they are good? Although a natural starting point, this question is perhaps naive. Games come in all shapes and sizes, and different games are often good in very different ways. Chess, Bridge, Bingo, Chutes and Ladders, Football, Spin the Bottle, Dungeons & Dragons, Pac-Man, Minecraft and Cha…Read more
  •  35
    Illusory attitudes and the playful stoic
    Philosophical Studies 178 (9): 2965-2990. 2021.
    What we might usefully call “playing full-stop” and playing games plausibly figure in a well-lived life. Yet there are reasons to worry that the two not only do not naturally go hand in hand, but are in fact deeply opposed. In this essay I investigate the apparent tension between playing full-stop and playing competitive games. I argue that the nature of this tension is easily exaggerated. While there is a psychological tension between simultaneously engaging in earnest competitive game play and…Read more
  •  1
    Jonathan Dancy, Ethics without Principles (review)
    Philosophical Review 116 (1): 124-128. 2007.
  •  21
    Reinventing Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong
    Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 8 (4). 2020.
    I offer new arguments for an unorthodox reading of J. L. Mackie’s Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, one on which Mackie does not think all substantive moral claims are false, but allows that a proper subset of them are true. Further, those that are true should be understood in terms of a “hybrid theory”. The proposed reading is one on which Mackie is a conceptual pruner, arguing that we should prune away error-ridden moral claims but hold onto those already free of error. This reading is very d…Read more
  •  10
    Elusive Reasons 1
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 7. 2012.
    The present chapter attempts to resolve a puzzle about normative testimony. On the one hand, agents act on the advice of others, advice which purports to tell them what they have reason to do. When they do so, they can act for good reason. This thought, though, sits uneasily with another: that the mere fact that someone has advised a course of action is not itself a reason. An interesting view of reasons recently defended by Stephen Kearns and Daniel Star offers a resolution to the puzzle. On th…Read more
  •  13
    Individuating games
    Synthese 1-28. forthcoming.
    Games, which philosophers commonly invoke as models for diverse phenomena, are plausibly understood in terms of rules and goals, but this gives rise to two puzzles. The first concerns the identity of a single game over time. Intuitively one and the same game can undergo a change in rules, as when the rules of chess were modified so that a pawn could be moved two squares forward on its first move. Yet if games are individuated in terms of their constitutive rules and goals, this is incoherent—new…Read more
  •  15
    The Many Moral Particularisms
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (1): 83-106. 2005.
    What place, if any, moral principles should or do have in moral life has been a longstanding question for moral philosophy. For some, the proposition that moral philosophy should strive to articulate moral principles has been an article of faith. At least since Aristotle, however, there has been a rich counter-tradition that questions the possibility or value of trying to capture morality in principled terms. In recent years, philosophers who question principled approaches to morality have argue…Read more
  •  24
    Analysis 75 (3): 433-442. 2015.
  •  30
    Replies to Critics
    Analysis 75 (3): 471-488. 2015.
  •  38
    Play and games: An opinionated introduction
    Philosophy Compass 14 (4). 2019.
  •  69
    Relaxing Realism or Deferring Debate?
    Journal of Philosophy 116 (3): 149-173. 2019.
    In this paper I argue that so-called “Relaxed Realism” of the sort defended by T. M. Scanlon fails on its own terms by failing to distinguish itself from its putative rivals—in particular, from Quasi-Realism. On a whole host of questions, Relaxed Realism and Quasi-Realism give exactly the same answers, and these answers make up much of the core of the view. Scanlon offers three possible points of contrast, each of which I argue is not fit for purpose. Along the way I argue that Quasi-Realists ca…Read more
  •  18
    I Might be Fundamentally Mistaken
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 9 (3): 1-22. 2015.
    Quasi-realism aspires to preserve the intelligibility of the realist-sounding moral judgments of ordinary people. These judgments include ones of the form, “I believe that p, but I might be mistaken,” where “p” is some moral content. The orthodox quasi-realist strategy is to understand these in terms of the agent’s worrying that some improving change would lead one to aban-don the relevant moral belief. However, it is unclear whether this strate-gy generalizes to cases in which the agent takes t…Read more
  •  25
    Internalists Relax: We Can’t All Be Amoralists!
    Philosophia 47 (3): 845-850. 2019.
    In “Internalists Beware – We Might All Be Amoralists!” Gunnar Björnsson and Ragnar Francén Olinder [henceforth B&O] offer an original objection to motivational internalism, which promises to move the debate beyond the seeming stalemate between externalists and internalists. The main idea behind this objection is that to pose a challenge to internalists, amoralists need not fail to be motivated to do the right thing – they might reliably be motivated to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. M…Read more
  •  59
    Normative certitude for expressivists
    Synthese 197 (8): 3325-3347. 2020.
    Quasi-realists aspire to accommodate core features of ordinary normative thought and discourse in an expressivist framework. One apparent such feature is that we can be more or less confident in our normative judgments—they vary in credence. Michael Smith has argued that quasi-realists cannot plausibly accommodate these distinctions simply because they understand normative judgments as desires, but desires lack the structure needed to distinguish these three features. Existing attempts to meet S…Read more
  •  55
    Meeting constitutivists halfway
    Philosophical Studies 175 (12): 2951-2968. 2018.
    Constitutivism is best understood as a strategy for meeting a set of related metanormative challenges, rather than a fully comprehensive metanormative theory in its own right, or so many have plausibly argued. Whether this strategy succeeds may depend, in part, on which broader metanormative theory it is combined with. In this paper I argue that combining constitutivism with expressivism somewhat surprisingly provides constitutivists with their best chances for success, and that this combination…Read more
  •  31
    Expressivism and Collectives
    Mind 127 (507): 833-861. 2018.
    Expressivists have a problem with collectives. I initially illustrate the problem against the background of Allan Gibbard’s expressivist theory, where it is especially stark. I then argue that the problem generalizes. Gibbard’s account entails that judgments about what collective agents ought to do are contingency plans for what to do if one is in the circumstances facing the relevant collective agent. So, for example, my judgment that the United States ought not to have invaded Iraq is a contin…Read more
  •  69
    Non-Cognitivist Pragmatics and Stevenson’s "Do So As Well!"
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 33 (4): 563-574. 2003.
    Meta-ethical non-cognitivism makes two claims—a negative one and a positive one. The negative claim is that moral utterances do not express beliefs which provide the truth-conditions for those utterances. The positive claim is that the primary function of such utterances is to express certain of the speaker’s desire-like states of mind. Non-cognitivism is officially a theory about the meanings of moral words, but non-cognitivists also maintain that moral states of mind are themselves at least pa…Read more
  • The Shape of Practical Reasons: A Defense of Agent-Neutralism
    Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 1999.
    Theories of practical reason can be divided in terms of a distinction between agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons for action. A reason is agent-relative just in case a full explanation of why it counts as a reason necessarily makes an ineliminable, non-trivial, pronominal back-reference to the agent who has the reason. By contrast, a reason is agent-neutral if the practical principle underwriting it needs make no such back-reference. Theories which hold that all reasons for acting are agent…Read more
  •  155
    Ecumenical Expressivism: The Best of Both Worlds?
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 2 51-76. 2007.