•  518
    Seeking desire: Reflections on Blackburn's lust
    Social Philosophy Today 22 219-230. 2006.
    This paper is a critical discussion of Simon Blackburn’s recent work on lust. Blackburn develops a view on which lust is decent only when part of a pure mutuality in sex, and is best left alone—we ought not tamper with its “freedom of flow.” I argue that this treatment, which I believe reflects commonly held views, fails in several ways. First, it does not square with the fact that we pursue lust as a good in itself. Second, pure mutuality is hard to come by and almost impossible to recognize, s…Read more
  •  335
    The ethics of sexual objectification: Autonomy and consent
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 51 (4). 2008.
    It is now a platitude that sexual objectification is wrong. As is often pointed out, however, some objectification seems morally permissible and even quite appealing—as when lovers are so inflamed by passion that they temporarily fail to attend to the complexity and humanity of their partners. Some, such as Nussbaum, have argued that what renders objectification benign is the right sort of relationship between the participants; symmetry, mutuality, and intimacy render objectification less troubl…Read more
  •  107
    Ambivalence, Valuational Inconsistency, and the Divided Self
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (1): 41-71. 2011.
    Is there anything irrational, or self-undermining, about having "inconsistent" attitudes of caring or valuing? In this paper, I argue that, contra suggestions of Harry Frankfurt and Charles Taylor, the answer is "No." Here I focus on "valuations," which are endorsed desires or attitudes. The proper characterization of what I call "valuational inconsistency" I claim, involves not logical form (valuing A and not-A), but rather the co-possibility of what is valued; valuations are inconsistent wh…Read more
  •  105
    Moral dilemmas, collective responsibility, and moral progress
    Philosophical Studies 104 (2). 2001.
    Ruth Marcus has offered an account of moral dilemmas in which the presence of dilemmas acts as a motivating force, pushing us to try to minimize predicaments of moral conflict. In this paper, I defend a Marcus-style account of dilemmas against two objections: first, that if dilemmas are real, we are forced to blame those who have done their best, and second, that in some cases, even a stripped down version of blame seems inappropriate. My account highlights the importance of collective responsib…Read more
  •  92
    Moral Rationalism and the Normative Status of Desiderative Coherence
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 7 (2): 227-252. 2010.
    This paper concerns the normative status of coherence of desires, in the context of moral rationalism. I argue that 'desiderative coherence' is not tied to rationality, but is rather of pragmatic, instrumental, and sometimes moral value. This means that desire-based views cannot rely on coherence to support non-agent-relative accounts of moral reasons. For example, on Michael Smith's neo-rationalist view, you have 'normative reason' to do whatever your maximally coherent and fully informed self …Read more
  •  81
    Philosophy of Sex
    Philosophy Compass 9 (1): 22-32. 2014.
    Sex raises fundamental philosophical questions about topics such as personal identity and well-being, the relationship between emotion and reason, the nature of autonomy and consent, and the dual nature of persons as individuals but also social beings. This article serves as an overview of the philosophy of sex in the English-speaking philosophical tradition and explicates philosophical debate in several specific areas: sexual objectification, rape and consent, sex work, sexual identities and qu…Read more
  •  78
    On essentially conflicting desires
    Philosophical Quarterly 59 (235): 274-291. 2009.
    It is sometimes argued that having inconsistent desires is irrational or otherwise bad for an agent. If so, if agents seem to want a and not-a, then either their attitudes are being misdescribed – what they really want is some aspect x of a and some aspect y of not-a – or those desires are somehow 'inconsistent' and thus inappropriate. I argue first that the proper characterization of inconsistency here does not involve logical form, that is, whether the desires involved have the form 'a and not…Read more
  •  59
    Expressivism, Logic, Consistency, and Moral Dilemmas
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (5): 517-533. 2006.
    On an expressivist view, ethical claims are understood as expressions of our attitudes, desires, and feelings. A famous puzzle for this view concerns the use of logic in ethical reasoning, and two standard treatments try to solve the puzzle by explaining logical inconsistency in terms of conflicting attitudes. I argue, however, that this general strategy fails: because we can reason effectively even in the presence of conflicting moral attitudes – in cases of moral dilemmas – avoiding these conf…Read more
  •  57
    Expressivism, deflationism and correspondence
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 2 (2): 171-191. 2005.
    On an expressivist view, ethical claims are not fact stating; instead they serve the alternative function of expressing our feelings, attitudes and values. On a deflationary view, truth is not a property with a nature to be analyzed, but merely a grammatical device to aid us in endorsing sentences. Views on the relationship between expressivism and deflationism vary widely: they are compatible; they are incompatible; they are a natural pair; they doom one another. Here I explain some of these vi…Read more
  •  57
    What Should a Correspondence Theory Be and Do?
    Philosophical Studies 127 (3): 415-457. 2006.
    Correspondence theories are frequently either too vaguely expressed - "true statements correspond to the way things are in the world," or implausible - "true statements mirror raw, mind-independent reality." I address this problem by developing features and roles that ought to characterize what I call "modest" correspondence theories. Of special importance is the role of correspondence in directing our responses to cases of suspected non-factuality; lack of straightforward correspondence shows t…Read more
  •  55
    Correspondence theories are frequently charged with being either implausible -- metaphysically troubling and overly general -- or trivial -- collapsing into deflationism's "'P' is true iff P." Philip Kitcher argues for a "modest" correspondence theory, on which reference relations are causal relations, but there is no general theory of denotation. In this paper, I start by showing that, understood this way, "modest" theories are open to charges of triviality. I then offer a refinement o…Read more
  •  40
    Prostitution
    In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Wiley-blackwell. 2013.
  •  34
    ABSTRACT: Correspondence theories are frequently charged with being either implausible-metaphysically troubling and overly general-or trivial-collapsing into deflationism's "'P' is true iff P." Philip Kitcher argues for a "modest" correspondence theory, on which reference relations are causaI relations, but there is no general theory of denotation. In this article, I start by showing that, understood this way, "modest" theories are open to charges of triviality. I then offer a refinement of mode…Read more
  •  26
    Moral Coherence and Principle Pluralism
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (6): 727-749. 2014.
    This paper develops and defends a conception of moral coherence that is suitable for use in contexts of principle pluralism. I argue that, as they are traditionally understood, coherence methods stack the deck against pluralist theories, by incorporating norms such as systematicity—that the principles of a theory should be as few and as simple as possible. I develop and defend an alternative, minimal, conception of coherence that focuses instead on consistency. It has been suggested that consist…Read more
  •  22
    Moral coherence and value pluralism
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (1): 117-135. 2013.
    This paper addresses the question of what value pluralism tells us about the pursuit of moral coherence as a method of moral reasoning. I focus on the status of the norm of ‘systematicity,’ or the demand that our principles be as few and as simple as possible. I argue that, given certain descriptive facts about the pluralistic ways we value, epistemic ways of supporting a systematicity norm do not succeed. Because it is sometimes suggested that coherence functions in moral reasoning as it does i…Read more
  •  11
    This is the third edition of a book originally published in the 1970s; it provides a systematic and nicely organized presentation of the elegant method of using Boolean-valued models to prove independence results. Four things are new in the third edition: background material on Heyting algebras, a chapter on ‘Boolean-valued analysis’, one on using Heyting algebras to understand intuitionistic set theory, and an appendix explaining how Boolean and Heyting algebras look from the perspective of cat…Read more
  •  5
    Moral Reasoning in a Pluralistic World
    Mcgill-Queen's University Press. 2015.
    Moral diversity is a fundamental reality of today’s world, but moral theorists have difficulty responding to it. Some take it as evidence for skepticism – the view that there are no moral truths. Others, associating moral reasoning with the search for overarching principles and unifying values, see it as the result of error. In the former case, moral reasoning is useless, since values express individual preferences; in the latter, our reasoning process is dramatically at odds with our lived expe…Read more
  •  3
    Seeking Desire: Reflections on Blackburn’s Lust
    Social Philosophy Today 22 219-230. 2006.
    This paper is a critical discussion of Simon Blackburn’s recent work on lust. Blackburn develops a view on which lust is decent only when part of a pure mutuality in sex, and is best left alone—we ought not tamper with its “freedom of flow.” I argue that this treatment, which I believe reflects commonly held views, fails in several ways. First, it does not square with the fact that we pursue lust as a good in itself. Second, pure mutuality is hard to come by and almost impossible to recognize, s…Read more
  •  1
    Moral Coherence and Principle Pluralism
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (4). 2013.
    This paper develops and defends a conception of moral coherence that is suitable for use in contexts of principle pluralism. I argue that, as they are traditionally understood, coherence methods stack the deck against pluralist theories, by incorporating norms such as systematicity—that the principles of a theory should be as few and as simple as possible. I develop and defend an alternative, minimal, conception of coherence that focuses instead on consistency. It has been suggested that consist…Read more
  • Language and the World: Correspondence Versus Deflationary Theories of Truth
    Dissertation, University of California, Irvine. 2002.
    My dissertation concerns theories of truth; in particular, it deals with the debate between those who advocate a robust, correspondence account---truth is correspondence to reality---and those who urge a weak, deflationary one---"truth" isn't a property at all, but merely a logical device. I trace the development of these two extremes, revealing the underlying points of contention, and arguing for a robust theory. A central move in my argument is the articulation of a new correspondence theory, …Read more
  • Representation-friendly deflationism versus modest correspondence
    In Cory D. Wright & Nikolaj J. L. L. Pedersen (eds.), New Waves in Truth, Palgrave-macmillan. 2010.