•  579
    Moral Constraints on Gender Concepts
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (1): 39-51. 2020.
    Are words like ‘woman’ or ‘man’ sex terms that we use to talk about biological features of individuals? Are they gender terms that we use to talk about non-biological features e.g. social roles? Contextualists answer both questions affirmatively, arguing that these terms concern biological or non-biological features depending on context. I argue that a recent version of contextualism from Jennifer Saul that Esa Diaz-Leon develops doesn't exhibit the right kind of flexibility to capture our theor…Read more
  •  517
    The World is Not Enough
    Noûs 55 (1): 86-101. 2021.
    Throughout his career, Derek Parfit made the bold suggestion, at various times under the heading of the "Normativity Objection," that anyone in possession of normative concepts is in a position to know, on the basis of their competence with such concepts alone, that reductive realism in ethics is not even possible. Despite the prominent role that the Normativity Objection plays in Parfit's non-reductive account of the nature of normativity, when the objection hasn't been ignored, it's been criti…Read more
  •  426
    Conceptual Analysis in Metaethics
    In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics, Routledge. pp. 536-551. 2017.
    A critical survey of various positions on the nature, use, possession, and analysis of normative concepts. We frame our treatment around G.E. Moore’s Open Question Argument, and the ways metaethicists have responded by departing from a Classical Theory of concepts. In addition to the Classical Theory, we discuss synthetic naturalism, noncognitivism (expressivist and inferentialist), prototype theory, network theory, and empirical linguistic approaches. Although written for a general philosoph…Read more
  •  365
    Upon doing something generous for someone with whom you are close, some kind of reciprocity may be appropriate. But it often seems wrong to actually request reciprocity. This chapter explores the wrongness in making these requests, and why they can nevertheless appear appropriate. After considering several explanations for the wrongness at issue (involving, e.g. distinguishing oughts from obligation, the suberogatory, imperfect duties, and gift-giving norms), a novel proposal is advanced. The re…Read more
  •  363
    Resisting Reductive Realism
    In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics Volume 15, Oxford University Press. 2020.
    Ethicists struggle to take reductive views seriously. They also have trouble conceiving of some supervenience failures. Understanding why provides further evidence for a kind of hybrid view of normative concept use.
  •  344
    Epistemic modesty in ethics
    Philosophical Studies 175 (7): 1577-1596. 2018.
    Many prominent ethicists, including Shelly Kagan, John Rawls, and Thomas Scanlon, accept a kind of epistemic modesty thesis concerning our capacity to carry out the project of ethical theorizing. But it is a thesis that has received surprisingly little explicit and focused attention, despite its widespread acceptance. After explaining why the thesis is true, I argue that it has several implications in metaethics, including, especially, implications that should lead us to rethink our understandin…Read more
  •  330
    The sense of incredibility in ethics
    Philosophical Studies 176 (1): 93-115. 2019.
    It is often said that normative properties are “just too different” to reduce to other kinds of properties. This suggests that many philosophers find it difficult to believe reductive theses in ethics. I argue that the distinctiveness of the normative concepts we use in thinking about reductive theses offers a more promising explanation of this psychological phenomenon than the falsity of Reductive Realism. To identify the distinctiveness of normative concepts, I use resources from familiar Hybr…Read more
  •  199
    Analytic reductivism in metaethics has long been out of philosophical vogue. In Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normativity (2014), Stephen Finlay tries to resuscitate it by developing an analytic metaethical reductive naturalistic semantics for ‘good.’ He argues that an end-relational semantics is the simplest account that can explain all of the data concerning the term, and hence the most plausible theory of it. I argue that there are several assumptions that a reductive naturalist would nee…Read more
  •  169
    In Unbelievable Errors, Bart Streumer argues via elimination for a global error theory, according to which all normative judgments ascribe properties that do not exist. Streumer also argues that it is not possible to believe his view, which is a claim he uses in defending his view against several objections. I argue that reductivists and nonreductivists have compelling responses to Streumer's elimination argument – responses constituting strong reason to reject Streumer’s diagnosis of any allege…Read more
  •  157
    What Makes Normative Concepts Normative
    Southwest Philosophy Review 37 (1). forthcoming.
    When asked which of our concepts are normative concepts, metaethicists would be quick to list such concepts as GOOD, OUGHT, and REASON. When asked why such concepts belong on the list, metaethicists would be much slower to respond. Matti Eklund is a notable exception. In his recent book, Choosing Normative Concepts, Eklund argues by elimination for “the Normative Role view” that normative concepts are normative in virtue of having a “normative role” or being “used normatively”. One view that Ekl…Read more
  •  151
    Over the course of summarizing Volume Three and Does Anything Really Matter?, I argue that Parfit does not give us strong reason to think that Naturalists, Expressivists, and Non-Realist Cognitivists agree.
  •  143
    Moral Realism, Speech Act Diversity, and Expressivism
    Philosophical Quarterly 69 (274): 166-174. 2019.
    In his highly engaging book, Speech and Morality, Terence Cuneo advances a transcendental argument for moral realism from the fact that we speak. After summarizing the major moves in the book, I argue that its master argument is not as friendly to non-naturalist versions of moral realism as Cuneo advertises and relies on a diet of insufficient types of speech acts. I also argue that expressivists have compelling replies to each of Cuneo's objections individually, but taken together, Cuneo's obje…Read more
  •  86
    Non-Analytical Naturalism and the Nature of Normative Thought: A Reply to Parfit
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 9 (1): 1-5. 2015.
    Metaethical non-analytical naturalism consists in the metaphysical thesis that normative properties are identical with or reducible to natural properties and the epistemological thesis that we cannot come to a complete understanding of the nature of normative properties via conceptual analysis alone. In On What Matters, Derek Parfit (2011) argues that non-analytical naturalism is either false or incoherent. In § 1, I show that his argument for this claim is unsuccessful, by showing that it rests…Read more
  •  80
    There’s a long but relatively neglected tradition of attempting to explain why many researchers working on the nature of phenomenal consciousness think that it’s hard to explain. David Chalmers argues that this “meta-problem of consciousness” merits more attention than it has received. He also argues against several existing explanations of why we find consciousness hard to explain. Like Chalmers, we agree that the meta-problem is worthy of more attention. Contra Chalmers, however, we argue that…Read more
  •  79
    Practical Reasons for Belief Without Stakes
    Analytic Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Pragmatic encroachment can be thought of as the idea that knowledge is in some way sensitive to practical considerations, including practical considerations involving what's at stake in getting things right. Recently, Mark Schroeder defends pragmatic encroachment by showing how it could be true. This paper argues that the view proposed by Schroeder is vulnerable to a simple but important objection. It also argues that the objection can be avoided by claiming that there are even more kinds of pra…Read more