•  25
    Practical Expressivism
    Oxford University Press. 2021.
    What is morality? In Practical Expressivism, I argue that morality is a purely natural interpersonal co-ordination device, whereby human beings express their attitudes in order to influence the attitudes and actions of others. The ultimate goal of these expressions is to find acceptable ways of living together. This 'expressivist' model for understanding morality faces well-known challenges concerning 'saving the appearances' of morality, because morality presents itself to us as a practice of …Read more
  •  26
    Ethical Subjectivism and Expressivism
    Cambridge University Press. 2020.
    Ethical subjectivists hold that moral judgements are descriptions of our attitudes. Expressivists hold that they are expressions of our attitudes. These views cook with the same ingredients – the natural world, and our reactions to it – and have similar attractions. This Element assesses each of them by considering whether they can accommodate three central features of moral practice: the practicality of moral judgements, the phenomenon of moral disagreement, and the mind-independence of some mo…Read more
  •  8
    Belief Pills and the Possibility of Moral Epistemology
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics 13. 2017.
    This chapter argues that evolutionary debunking arguments are dialectically ineffective. Such arguments rely on the premise that moral judgements can be given evolutionary explanations which do not invoke their truth. The challenge for the debunker is to bridge the gap between this premise and the conclusion that moral judgements are unjustified. After discussing older attempts to bridge this gap, this chapter focuses on Joyce’s recent attempt, which claims that ‘we do not have a believable acco…Read more
  •  156
    Are the circumstances in which moral testimony serves as evidence that our judgement-forming processes are unreliable the same circumstances in which mundane testimony serves as evidence that our mundane judgement-forming processes are unreliable? In answering this question, we distinguish two possible roles for testimony: (i) providing a legitimate basis for a judgement, (ii) providing (‘higher-order’) evidence that a judgement-forming process is unreliable. We explore the possibilities for a v…Read more
  •  17
    Moral Skepticism: New Essays, edited by Diego E. Machuca
    International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 9 (2): 173-178. 2019.
  •  42
    "Moral Skepticism: New Essays" ed. Diego E. Machuca (Routledge 2018) (review)
    International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 9 (2): 1-7. 2019.
  •  11
    In The Naturalistic Fallacy, Cambridge University Press. 2018.
  •  42
    The Naturalistic Fallacy (edited book)
    Cambridge University Press. 2018.
    At the turn of the twentieth century, G.E. Moore contemptuously dismissed most previous 'ethical systems' for committing the 'Naturalistic Fallacy'. This fallacy – which has been variously understood, but has almost always been seen as something to avoid – was perhaps the greatest structuring force on subsequent ethical theorising. To a large extent, to understand the Fallacy is to understand contemporary ethics. This volume aims to provide that understanding. Its thematic chapters – written by …Read more
  •  112
    This chapter -- the first in the edited collection "The Naturalistic Fallacy" (Cambridge University Press 2019) -- locates the naturalistic fallacy within the context of the other claims Moore defends in Principia Ethica. I explore the notions of “definition” and “analysis” as Moore understood them and set out in detail the multiple interpretations of the fallacy and open question argument. I then take a broad view of the influence of the fallacy on the Century of metaethics that came after Moor…Read more
  •  61
    Ethical Issues in Designing Interventions for Behavioural Change
    with Gyunchan Thomas Jun and Fernando Carvalho
    Proceedings of Design Research Society 2018, Volume 1. 2018.
    This paper reflects on fundamental ethical issues concerning designing for behavioural change, in order to raise questions about the factors that should be considered by design practitioners when developing interventions. It draws on existing literature on philosophical ethics, moral psychology and design. It proposes a list of ethical questions and considerations to be made throughout the design process. A case study addressing behavioural changes in antibiotics prescriptions (for Urinary Tract…Read more
  •  52
    Speech and Morality (review)
    Analysis 77 (3): 643-648. 2017.
    Nicholas Sturgeon memorably asked: ‘What difference does it make whether moral realism is true?’ His question was prompted by the rise of the metaethical upstart quasi-realism, which urges that an expressivist account of moral discourse is compatible with most, if not all, of its important contours. In his invigorating new book, Cuneo offers a startling new answer to Sturgeon’s question.1 If moral realism were not true, Cuneo argues, we would not be able to speak. But since we evidently can spea…Read more
  •  112
    I argue that evolutionary debunking arguments are dialectically ineffective against a range of plausible positions regarding moral truth. I first distinguish debunking arguments which target the truth of moral judgements from those which target their justification. I take the latter to rest on the premise that such judgements can be given evolutionary explanations which do not invoke their truth. The challenge for the debunker is to bridge the gap between this premise and the conclusion that mor…Read more
  •  161
    Reasons Internalism and the Function of Normative Reasons
    Dialectica 71 (2): 209-229. 2017.
    What is the connection between reasons and motives? According to Reasons Internalism there is a non-trivial conceptual connection between normative reasons and the possibility of rationally accessing relevant motivation. Reasons Internalism is attractive insofar as it captures the thought that reasons are for reasoning with and repulsive insofar as it fails to generate sufficient critical distance between reasons and motives. Rather than directly adjudicate this dispute, I extract from it two ge…Read more
  •  271
    Evolution and the Missing Link (in Debunking Arguments)
    In Michael Ruse & Robert J. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Evolutionary Ethics, Cambridge University Press. 2017.
    What are the consequences, for human moral practice, of an evolutionary understanding of that practice? By ‘moral practice’ we mean the way in which human beings think, talk and debate in moral terms. We suggest that the proper upshot of such considerations is moderate support for anti-realism in ethics.
  •  533
    The moral belief problem
    Ratio 19 (2). 2006.
    The moral belief problem is that of reconciling expressivism in ethics with both minimalism in the philosophy of language and the syntactic discipline of moral sentences. It is argued that the problem can be solved by distinguishing minimal and robust senses of belief, where a minimal belief is any state of mind expressed by sincere assertoric use of a syntactically disciplined sentence and a robust belief is a minimal belief with some additional property R. Two attempts to specify R are discuss…Read more
  •  957
    Promotionalism, Motivationalism and Reasons to Perform Physically Impossible Actions
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (5): 647-659. 2012.
    In this paper I grant the Humean premise that some reasons for action are grounded in the desires of the agents whose reasons they are. I then consider the question of the relation between the reasons and the desires that ground them. According to promotionalism , a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as A’s φing helps promote p . According to motivationalism a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as it explains why, in certain circumstances, A would be motivated to φ. I then give…Read more
  •  17
    Kinds of Reasons – Maria Alvarez (review)
    Philosophical Quarterly 61 (245): 873-875. 2011.
  •  329
    Expressivism and the practicality of moral convictions
    Journal of Value Inquiry 41 (2-4): 201-220. 2007.
    Many expressivists have employed a claim about the practicality of morality in support of their view that moral convictions are not purely descriptive mental states. In this paper I argue that all extant arguments of this form fail. I distinguish several versions of such arguments and argue that in each case either the sense of practicality the argument employs is too weak, in which case there is no reason to think that descriptive states cannot be practical or the sense of practicality the argu…Read more
  •  618
    Recent work in expressivism
    Analysis 69 (1): 136-147. 2009.
    This paper is a concise survey of recent expressivist theories of discourse, focusing on the ethical case. For each topic discussed recent trends are summarised and suggestions for further reading provided. Issues covered include: the nature of the moral attitude; ‘hybrid’ views according to which moral judgements express both beliefs and attitudes; the quasi-realist programmes of Simon Blackburn and Allan Gibbard; the problem of creeping minimalism; the nature of the ‘expression’ relation; the …Read more
  •  247
    On standing one's ground
    Analysis 74 (3): 422-431. 2014.
    I provide a positive expressivist account of the permissibility of ‘standing one’s ground’ in some cases of moral conflict, based in part on an illustrative analogy with political disputes. This account suffices to undermine Enoch’s recent argument against expressivism
  •  559
    Free Thinking for Expressivists
    Philosophical Papers 37 (2): 263-287. 2008.
    This paper elaborates and defends an expressivist account of the claims of mind-independence embedded in ordinary moral thought. In response to objections from Zangwill and Jenkins it is argued that the expressivist 'internal reading' of such claims is compatible with their conceptual status and that the only 'external reading' available doesn't commit expressivisists to any sort of subjectivism. In the process a 'commitment-theoretic' account of the semantics of conditionals and negations is de…Read more
  •  27
    Many philosophers argue that the face-value of moral practice provides presumptive support to moral realism. This paper analyses such arguments into three steps. Moral practice has a certain face-value, only realism can vindicate this face value, and the face-value needs vindicating. Two potential problems with such arguments are discussed. The first is taking the relevant face-value to involve explicitly realist commitments; the second is underestimating the power of non-realist strategies to v…Read more
  •  708
    Moral expressivism and sentential negation
    Philosophical Studies 152 (3): 385-411. 2011.
    This paper advances three necessary conditions on a successful account of sentential negation. First, the ability to explain the constancy of sentential meaning across negated and unnegated contexts (the Fregean Condition). Second, the ability to explain why sentences and their negations are inconsistent, and inconsistent in virtue of the meaning of negation (the Semantic Condition). Third, the ability of the account to generalize regardless of the topic of the negated sentence (the Generality C…Read more
  •  1396
    Expressivism and the Value of Truth
    Philosophia 40 (4): 877-883. 2012.
    This paper is a reply to Michael Lynch's "Truth, Value and Epistemic Expressivism" in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research for 2009. It argues that Lynch's argument against expressivism fails because of an ambiguity in the employed notion of an 'epistemically disengaged standpoint'.
  •  518
    The explanationist argument for moral realism
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (1): 1-24. 2011.
    In this paper I argue that the explanationist argument in favour of moral realism fails. According to this argument, the ability of putative moral properties to feature in good explanations provides strong evidence for, or entails, the metaphysical claims of moral realism. Some have rejected this argument by denying that moral explanations are ever good explanations. My criticism is different. I argue that even if we accept that moral explanations are (sometimes) good explanations the metaphysic…Read more
  •  251
    On the Connection between Normative Reasons and the Possibility of Acting for those Reasons
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (5): 1211-1223. 2016.
    According to Bernard Williams, if it is true that A has a normative reason to Φ then it must be possible that A should Φ for that reason. This claim is important both because it restricts the range of reasons which agents can have and because it has been used as a premise in an argument for so-called ‘internalist’ theories of reasons. In this paper I rebut an apparent counterexamples to Williams’ claim: Schroeder’s example of Nate. I argue that this counterexample fails since it underestimates t…Read more