•  8
    Suspiciously Convenient Belief
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1-15. forthcoming.
    Moral judgments entail or consist in claims that certain ways of behaving are called for. These actions have expectable consequences. I will argue that these consequences are suspiciously benign: on controversial issues, each side assesses these consequences, measured in dispute-independent goods, as significantly better than the consequences of behaving in the ways their opponents recommend. This remains the case even when we have not formed our moral judgment by assessing consequences. I will …Read more
  •  56
    Does encouraging a belief in determinism increase cheating? Reconsidering the value of believing in free will
    with Thomas Nadelhoffer, Jason Shepard, Damien L. Crone, Jim A. C. Everett, and Brian D. Earp
    Cognition 203 104342. 2020.
    A key source of support for the view that challenging people’s beliefs about free will may undermine moral behavior is two classic studies by Vohs and Schooler (2008). These authors reported that exposure to certain prompts suggesting that free will is an illusion increased cheating behavior. In the present paper, we report several attempts to replicate this influential and widely cited work. Over a series of five studies (sample sizes of N = 162, N = 283, N = 268, N = 804, N = 982) (four prereg…Read more
  •  15
    The Surprising Truth About Disagreement
    Acta Analytica 1-21. forthcoming.
    Conciliationism—the thesis that when epistemic peers discover that they disagree about a proposition, both should reduce their confidence—faces a major objection: it seems to require us to significantly reduce our confidence in our central moral and political commitments. In this paper, I develop a typology of disagreement cases and a diagnosis of the source and force of the pressure to conciliate. Building on Vavova’s work, I argue that ordinary and extreme disagreements are surprising, and for…Read more
  •  84
    Virtue signalling is virtuous
    Synthese 1-18. forthcoming.
    The accusation of virtue signalling is typically understood as a serious charge. Those accused usually respond by attempting to show that they are doing no such thing. In this paper, I argue that we ought to embrace the charge, rather than angrily reject it. I argue that this response can draw support from cognitive science, on the one hand, and from social epistemology on the other. I claim that we may appropriately concede that what we are doing is virtue signalling, because virtue signalling …Read more
  •  6
    Rationalization enables cooperation and cultural evolution
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43. 2020.
    Cushman argues that the function of rationalization is to attribute mental representations to ourselves, thereby making these representations available for future planning. I argue that such attribution is often not necessary and sometimes maladaptive. I suggest a different explanation of rationalization: making representations available to other agents, to facilitate cooperation, transmission, and the ratchet effect that underlies cumulative cultural evolution.
  •  61
    Disease, Normality, and Current Pharmacological Moral Modification
    with Thomas Douglas, Guy Kahane, Sylvia Terbeck, Philip J. Cowen, Miles Hewstone, and Julian Savulescu
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 21 (2): 135-137. 2014.
    Response to commentary. We are grateful to Crockett and Craigie for their interesting remarks on our paper. We accept Crockett’s claim that there is a need for caution in drawing inferences about patient groups from work on healthy volunteers in the laboratory. However, we believe that the evidence we cited established a strong presumption that many of the patients who are routinely taking a medication, including many people properly prescribed the medication for a medical condition, have mora…Read more
  •  59
    No-Platforming and Higher-Order Evidence, or Anti-Anti-No-Platforming
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (4): 487-502. 2019.
    No-platforming—the refusal to allow those who espouse views seen as inflammatory the opportunity to speak in certain forums—is very controversial. Proponents typically cite the possibility of harms to disadvantaged groups and, sometimes, epistemically paternalistic considerations. Opponents invoke the value of free speech and respect for intellectual autonomy in favor of more open speech, arguing that the harms that might arise from bad speech are best addressed by rebuttal, not silencing. In th…Read more
  •  1
    Belie the belief? Prompts and default states
    Religion, Brain and Behavior. forthcoming.
    Sometimes agents sincerely profess to believe a claim and yet act inconsistently with it in some contexts. In this paper, I focus on mismatch cases in the domain of religion. I distinguish between two kinds of representations: prompts and default states. Prompts are representations that must be salient to agents in order for them to play their belief-appropriate roles, whereas default states play these roles automatically. The need for access characteristic of prompts is explained by their vehic…Read more
  •  18
    Applying Brown and Savulescu: the diachronic condition as excuse
    Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (10): 646-647. 2019.
    In applied ethics, debates about responsibility have been relentlessly individualistic and synchronic, even as recognition has increased in both philosophy and psychology that agency is distributed across time and individuals. I therefore warmly welcome Brown and Savulescu’s analysis of the conditions under which responsibility can be shared and extended. By carefully delineating how diachronic and dyadic responsibility interact with the long-established control and epistemic conditions, they la…Read more
  •  34
    Putting the Luck Back Into Moral Luck
    Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1): 59-74. 2019.
    Midwest Studies In Philosophy, EarlyView.
  •  65
    Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink: Nudging is Giving Reasons
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6. 2019.
  •  142
    Knowledge From Vice: Deeply Social Epistemology
    Mind 129 (515): 887-915. 2020.
    In the past two decades, epistemologists have significantly expanded the focus of their field. To the traditional question that has dominated the debate — under what conditions does belief amount to knowledge? — they have added questions about testimony, epistemic virtues and vices, epistemic trust, and more. This broadening of the range of epistemic concern has coincided with an expansion in conceptions of epistemic agency beyond the individualism characteristic of most earlier epistemology. We…Read more
  •  34
    Taking Responsibility for Responsibility
    Public Health Ethics 12 (2): 103-113. 2019.
    Governments, physicians, media and academics have all called for individuals to bear responsibility for their own health. In this article, I argue that requiring those with adverse health outcomes to bear responsibility for these outcomes is a bad basis for policy. The available evidence strongly suggests that the capacities for responsible choice, and the circumstances in which these capacities are exercised, are distributed alongside the kinds of goods we usually talk about in discussing distr…Read more
  •  74
    Are We Agents at All? Helen Steward's Agency Incompatibilism
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (4): 386-399. 2013.
    ABSTRACT In A Metaphysics for Freedom and related papers, Helen Steward advances a new argument for incompatibilism. Though she concedes that the luck objection is persuasive with regard to existing versions of libertarianism, she claims that agency itself is incompatible with determinism: we are only agents at all if we are able to settle matters concerning our movements, where settling something requires that prior to our settling it lacked sufficient conditions. She argues that genuine agents…Read more
  •  96
    Why Nudging Is No More Paternalistic Than Arguing
    The Philosophers' Magazine 83 53-59. 2018.
  •  193
    Radically Socialized Knowledge and Conspiracy Theories
    Episteme 4 (2): 181-192. 2007.
    Abstract The typical explanation of an event or process which attracts the label ‘conspiracy theory’ is an explanation that conflicts with the account advanced by the relevant epistemic authorities. I argue that both for the layperson and for the intellectual, it is almost never rational to accept such a conspiracy theory. Knowledge is not merely shallowly social, in the manner recognized by social epistemology, it is also constitutively social: many kinds of knowledge only become accessible tha…Read more
  •  34
    In Praise of Outsourcing
    Contemporary Pragmatism 15 (3): 344-365. 2018.
    What explains the context sensitivity of some beliefs? Why, for example, do religious beliefs appear to control behaviour in some contexts but not others? Cases like this are heterogeneous, and we may require a matching heterogeneity of explanations, ranging over their contents, the attitudes of agents and features of the environment. In this paper, I put forward a hypothesis of the last kind. I argue that some beliefs are coupled to cues, which either trigger an internal representation or even …Read more
  •  54
    What in the World Is Collective Responsibility?
    Dialectica 72 (2): 191-217. 2018.
  •  19
    Taking responsibility for health in an epistemically polluted environment
    Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 39 (2): 123-141. 2018.
    Proposals for regulating or nudging healthy choices are controversial. Opponents often argue that individuals should take responsibility for their own health, rather than be paternalistically manipulated for their own good. In this paper, I argue that people can take responsibility for their own health only if they satisfy certain epistemic conditions, but we live in an epistemic environment in which these conditions are not satisfied. Satisfying the epistemic conditions for taking responsibilit…Read more
  •  31
    Showing our seams: A reply to Eric Funkhouser
    Philosophical Psychology 31 (7): 991-1006. 2018.
    ABSTRACTIn a recent paper published in this journal, Eric Funkhouser argues that some of our beliefs have the primary function of signaling to others, rather than allowing us to navigate the world. Funkhouser’s case is persuasive. However, his account of beliefs as signals is underinclusive, omitting both beliefs that are signals to the self and less than full-fledged beliefs as signals. The latter set of beliefs, moreover, has a better claim to being considered as constituting a psychological k…Read more
  •  5
    Justice for Psychopaths
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 4 (2): 23-24. 2013.
  •  14
    Free Will Doesn't Come For Free
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 4 (4): 53-54. 2013.
  •  17
    Responsibility as an Obstacle to Good Policy: The Case of Lifestyle Related Disease
    Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 15 (3): 459-468. 2018.
    There is a lively debate over who is to blame for the harms arising from unhealthy behaviours, like overeating and excessive drinking. In this paper, I argue that given how demanding the conditions required for moral responsibility actually are, we cannot be highly confident that anyone is ever morally responsible. I also adduce evidence that holding people responsible for their unhealthy behaviours has costs: it undermines public support for the measures that are likely to have the most impact …Read more
  •  50
    Do-it-yourself brain stimulation: a regulatory model
    with Hannah Maslen, Tom Douglas, Roi Cohen Kadosh, and Julian Savulescu
    Journal of Medical Ethics 41 (5): 413-414. 2015.
  •  38
    The regulation of cognitive enhancement devices : extending the medical model
    with Hannah Maslen, Thomas Douglas, Roi Cohen Kadosh, and Julian Savulescu
    Journal of Law and the Biosciences 1 (1): 68-93. 2014.
    This article presents a model for regulating cognitive enhancement devices. Recently, it has become very easy for individuals to purchase devices which directly modulate brain function. For example, transcranial direct current stimulators are increasingly being produced and marketed online as devices for cognitive enhancement. Despite posing risks in a similar way to medical devices, devices that do not make any therapeutic claims do not have to meet anything more than basic product safety stand…Read more
  •  813
    Moral significance of phenomenal consciousness
    with Julian Savulescu
    Progress in Brain Research. 2009.
    Recent work in neuroimaging suggests that some patients diagnosed as being in the persistent vegetative state are actually conscious. In this paper, we critically examine this new evidence. We argue that though it remains open to alternative interpretations, it strongly suggests the presence of consciousness in some patients. However, we argue that its ethical significance is less than many people seem to think. There are several different kinds of consciousness, and though all kinds of consciou…Read more
  •  7
    Routledge Companion to Free Will. (edited book)
    with Kevin Timpe and Meghan Griffith
    Routledge. 2017.
    Questions concerning free will are intertwined with issues in almost every area of philosophy, from metaphysics to philosophy of mind to moral philosophy, and are also informed by work in different areas of science. Free will is also a perennial concern of serious thinkers in theology and in non-western traditions. Because free will can be approached from so many different perspectives and has implications for so many debates, a comprehensive survey needs to encompass an enormous range of approa…Read more
  •  29
    The Antipodean Philosopher: Public Lectures on Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand
    with John Bigelow, Raymond D. Bradley, Andrew Brennan, Tony Coady, Peter Forrest, James Franklin, Karen Green, Russell Grigg, Matthew Sharpe, Jeanette Kennett, Catriona Mackenzie, Gary Malinas, Chris Mortensen, Robert Nola, and Paul Patton
    Lexington Books. 2011.
    Series of lectures on many aspects of philosophy in Australia