• Metaethics, teleosemantics and the function of moral judgements
    Biology and Philosophy 27 (5): 639-662. 2012.
    This paper applies the theory of teleosemantics to the issue of moral content. Two versions of teleosemantics are distinguished: input-based and output-based. It is argued that applying either to the case of moral judgements generates the conclusion that such judgements have both descriptive (belief-like) and directive (desire-like) content, intimately entwined. This conclusion directly validates neither descriptivism nor expressivism, but the application of teleosemantics to moral content does …Read more
  • Reasons, inescapability and persuasion
    Philosophical Studies 173 (10): 2823-2844. 2016.
    This paper outlines a new metasemantic theory of moral reason statements, focused on explaining how the reasons thus stated can be inescapable. The motivation for the theory is in part that it can explain this and other phenomena concerning moral reasons. The account also suggests a general recipe for explanations of conceptual features of moral reason statements. (Published with Open Access.).
  • Moral realism, face-values and presumptions
    Analytic Philosophy 53 (2): 158-179. 2012.
    Many philosophers argue that the face-value of moral practice provides presumptive support to moral realism. This paper analyses such arguments into three steps. (1) Moral practice has a certain face-value, (2) only realism can vindicate this face value, and (3) 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 str…Read more
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Expressivist Explanations
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (2): 147-177. 2012.
    In this paper I argue that the common practice of employing moral predicates as explaining phrases can be accommodated on an expressivist account of moral practice. This account does not treat moral explanations as in any way second-rate or derivative, since it subsumes moral explanations under the general theory of program explanations (as defended by Jackson and Pettit). It follows that the phenomenon of moral explanations cannot be used to adjudicate the debate between expressivism and its ri…Read more
  • The Rumble in the Bundle
    Noûs 48 (2): 298-313. 2014.
    In 1952, two well-known characters called ‘A’ and ‘B’ met for the first time to argue about the Identity of Indiscernibles (Black, 1952). A argued that the principle is true, and B that it is false. By all accounts A took a bit of a beating and came out worst-off. Forty-three years later John O’Leary-Hawthorne offered a response on behalf of A that looked as if it would work so long as A was willing to accept the universal-bundle theory of substance (Hawthorne, 1995). In 1997, A and B met again …Read more
  • A Critical Introduction to the Metaphysics of Time
    Benjamin Curtis and Jon Robson
    Bloomsbury Academic. 2016.
    What is the nature of time? Does it flow? Do the past and future exist? Drawing connections between historical and present-day questions, A Critical Introduction to the Metaphysics of Time provides an up-to-date guide to one of the most central and debated topics in contemporary metaphysics. Introducing the views and arguments of Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Newton and Leibniz, this accessible introduction covers the history of the philosophy of time from the Pre-Socratics to the beg…Read more
  • When Do Persons Die?: Indeterminacy, Death, and Referential Eligibility
    Ben Curtis
    Journal of Value Inquiry 52 (2): 153-167. 2018.
    The topic of this paper is the general thesis that the death of the human organism is what constitutes the death of a person. All admit that when the death of a human organism occurs, in some form or another, this normally does result in the death of a person. But, some maintain, organismic death is not the same thing as personal death. Why? Because, they maintain, despite the fact that persons are associated with a human organism (‘their organism’), they are not identical with their organism, a…Read more