•  337
  •  288
    Anti-reductionism and supervenience
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 4 (3): 330-348. 2007.
    In this paper, I argue that anti-reductionist moral realism still has trouble explaining supervenience. My main target here will be Russ Shafer-Landau's attempt to explain the supervenience of the moral on the natural in terms of the constitution of moral property instantiations by natural property instantiations. First, though, I discuss a recent challenge to the very idea of using supervenience as a dialectical weapon posed by Nicholas Sturgeon. With a suitably formulated supervenience thesis …Read more
  •  232
    Moral particularists are united in their opposition to the codification of morality, and their work poses an important challenge to traditional ways of thinking about moral philosophy. Defenders of moral particularism have, with near unanimity, sought support from a doctrine they call “holism in the theory of reasons.” We argue that this is all a mistake. There are two ways in which holism in the theory of reasons can be understood, but neither provides any support for moral particularism. Moral…Read more
  •  219
    Why must we treat humanity with respect? Evaluating the regress argument
    European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 1 (1): 57-73. 2005.
    -- Immanuel Kant (Kant 1990, p. 46/429) The idea that our most basic duty is to treat each other with respect is one of the Enlightenment’s greatest legacies and Kant is often thought to be one of its most powerful defenders. If Kant’s project were successful then the lofty notion that humanity is always worthy of respect would be vindicated by pure practical reason. Further, this way of defending the ideal is supposed to reflect our autonomy, insofar as it is always one’s own reason that demand…Read more
  •  207
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (1): 41-63. 2013.
    Disagreement holds the key: the possibility of agreeing or disagreeing with a state of mind makes that state of mind act logically like accepting a claim. Charles Stevenson was quite right to begin his presentation of emotivism with disagreement.—Allan Gibbard
  •  172
    Reasons for action: Agent-neutral vs. Agent-relative
    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2011.
    The agent-relative/agent-neutral distintion is widely and rightly regarded as a philosophically important one. Unfortunately, the distinction is often drawn in different and mutually incompatible ways. The agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction has historically been drawn three main ways: the ‘principle-based distinction’, the ‘reason-statement-based distinction’ and the ‘perspective-based distinction’. Each of these approaches has its own distinctive vices (Sections 1-3). However, a slightly …Read more
  •  154
    Ecumenical Expressivism: The Best of Both Worlds?
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 2 51-76. 2007.
  •  150
    Preempting principles: Recent debates in moral particularism
    Philosophy Compass 3 (6): 1177-1192. 2008.
    Moral particularism, as recently defended, charges that traditional moral theorizing unduly privileges moral principles. Moral generalism defends a prominent place for moral principles. Because moral principles are often asked to play multiple roles, moral particularism aims at multiple targets. We distinguish two leading roles for moral principles, the role of standard and the role of guide. We critically survey some of the leading arguments both for and against principles so conceived.
  •  146
    Consequentialists are sometimes accused of being unable to accommodate all the ways in which an agent should care about her own integrity. Here it is helpful to follow Stephen Darwall in distinguishing two approaches to moral theory. First, we might begin with the value of states of affairs and then work our way ‘inward’ to our integrity, explaining the value of the latter in terms of their contribution to the value of the former. This is the ‘outside-in’ approach, and Darwall argues that it is …Read more
  •  142
    Mill's Intentions and Motives
    Utilitas 14 (1): 54. 2002.
    One might have thought that any right-thinking utilitarian would hold that motives and intentions are morally on a par, as either might influence the consequences of one's actions. However, in a neglected passage of Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill claims that the rightness of an action depends 'entirely upon the intention' but does not at all depend upon the motive. In this paper I try to make sense of Mill's initially puzzling remarks about the relative importance of intentions and motives in …Read more
  •  135
    E xpressivism and E pistemology: E pistemology for E cumenical E xpressivists
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 81 (1): 83-108. 2007.
  •  135
    Getting Lost on the Road to Larissa 1
    Noûs 47 (1): 181-201. 2013.
  •  132
    Epistemology moralized: David Hume's practical epistemology
    Hume Studies 29 (2): 165-204. 2003.
    - Peter Railton1 Railton's remark is accurate; contemporary philosophers almost invariably suppose that morality is more vulnerable than empirical science to scepticism. Yet David Hume apparently embraces an inversion of this twentieth century orthodoxy.2 In book I of the Treatise, he claims that the understanding, when it reflects upon itself, "entirely subverts itself" (T 1. 4.7.7; SBN 267) while, in contrast, in book III he claims that our moral faculty, when reflecting upon itself, acquires …Read more
  •  131
    The heroism paradox: another paradox of supererogation
    Philosophical Studies 172 (6): 1575-1592. 2015.
    Philosophers are by now familiar with “the” paradox of supererogation. This paradox arises out of the idea that it can never be permissible to do something morally inferior to another available option, yet acts of supererogation seem to presuppose this. This paradox is not our topic in this paper. We mention it only to set it to one side and explain our subtitle. In this paper we introduce and explore another paradox of supererogation, one which also deserves serious philosophical attention. Peo…Read more
  •  130
    There may be as much philosophical controversy about how to distinguish naturalism from non-naturalism as there is about which view is correct. In spite of this widespread disagreement about the content of naturalism and non-naturalism there is considerable agreement about the status of certain historically influential philosophical accounts as non-naturalist. In particular, there is widespread agreement that G.E. Moore's account of goodness in.
  •  109
    The many moral particularisms
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (1). 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
  •  109
    Principled Ethics: Generalism as a Regulative Ideal
    with Sean McKeever
    Oxford University Press. 2006.
    Moral philosophy has long been dominated by the aim of understanding morality and the virtues in terms of principles. However, the underlying assumption that this is the best approach has received almost no defence, and has been attacked by particularists, who argue that the traditional link between morality and principles is little more than an unwarranted prejudice. In Principled Ethics, Michael Ridge and Sean McKeever meet the particularist challenge head-on, and defend a distinctive view the…Read more
  •  104
    Climb every mountain?
    Ratio 22 (1): 59-77. 2009.
    The central thesis of Derek Parfit's On What Matters is that three of the most important secular moral traditions – Kantianism, contractualism, and consequentialism – all actually converge in a way onto the same view. It is in this sense that he suggests that we may all be 'climbing the same mountain, but from different sides'. In this paper, I argue that Parfit's argument that we are all metaphorically climbing the same mountain is unsound. One reason his argument does not work is that he has m…Read more
  •  104
    Sincerity and Expressivism
    Philosophical Studies 131 (2): 487-510. 2006.
    What is it for a speech-act to be sincere? A very tempting answer, defended by John Searle and others, is that a speech-act is sincere just in case the speaker has the state of mind it expresses. I argue that we should instead hold that a speech-act is sincere just in case the speaker believes that she has the state of mind she believes it expresses (Sections 1 and 2). Scenarios in which speakers are deluded about their own states of mind play an important role in arguing for this account. In th…Read more
  •  101
    Particularism and the contingent a priori
    Acta Analytica 21 (2): 3-11. 2006.
    Particularism renders the options for a sound moral epistemology few and the prospects dim. One leading approach treats basic knowledge of particular cases as derivable from an a priori moral principle and a posteriori knowledge of the contingent non-moral facts to which the principle applies. Particularists must forgo this approach because it requires principles. Yet a purely a posteriori moral epistemology is also implausible, especially when combined with particularism. Particularists such as…Read more
  •  92
    Humean Intentions
    American Philosophical Quarterly 35 (2): 157-178. 1998.
    Many hold that the differences between intentions and desires are so significant that, not only can we not identify intentions with desires simpliciter, but that intentions are irreducible to any subclass of desires. My main aim is to explain why we should reject the irreducibility thesis in both forms, thereby defending the Humean view of action explanation.
  •  82
    Turning on default reasons
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 4 (1): 55-76. 2007.
    Particularism takes an extremely ecumenical view of what considerations might count as reasons and thereby threatens to ‘flatten the moral landscape’ by making it seem that there is no deep difference between, for example, pain, and shoelace color. After all, particularists have claimed, either could provide a reason provided a suitable moral context. To avoid this result, some particularists draw a distinction between default and non-default reasons. The present paper argues that all but the mo…Read more
  •  81
    The truth in ecumenical expressivism
    In David Sobel & Steven Wall (eds.), Reasons for Action, Cambridge University Press. 2009.
    Early expressivists, such as A.J. Ayer, argued that normative utterances are not truth-apt, and many found this striking claim implausible. After all, ordinary speakers are perfectly happy to ascribe truth and falsity to normative assertions. It is hard to believe that competent speakers could be so wrong about the meanings of their own language, particularly as these meanings are fixed by the conventions implicit in their own linguistic behavior. Later expressivists therefore tried to arrange a…Read more
  •  78
    Saving the ethical appearances
    Mind 115 (459): 633-650. 2006.
    An important worry about what Simon Blackburn has called ‘quasi-realism’ is that it collapses into realism full-stop. Edward Harcourt has recently pressed the worry about collapse into realism in an original way. Harcourt presents the challenge in the form of a dilemma. Either ethical discourse appears to ordinary speakers to express representational states or not. If the former then expressivism means that this appearance is not saved after all, in which case quasi-realism fails in its own term…Read more
  •  75
    Moral assertion for expressivists
    Philosophical Issues 19 (1): 182-204. 2009.
    No Abstract
  •  74
    Introducing Variable-Rate Rule-Utilitarianism
    Philosophical Quarterly 56 (223). 2006.
    The basic idea of rule-utilitarianism is that right action should be defined in terms of what would be required by rules which would maximize either actual or expected utility if those rules gained general acceptance, or perhaps general compliance. Rule-utilitarians face a dilemma. They must characterize 'general acceptance' either as 100% acceptance, or as something less. On the first horn of the dilemma, rule-utilitarianism in vulnerable to the charge of utopianism; on the second, it is open t…Read more