•  1128
    Value in Very Long Lives
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (4): 416-434. 2017.
    As things currently stand, our deaths are unavoidable and our lifespans short. It might be thought that these qualities leave room for improvement. According to a prominent line of argument in philosophy, however, this thought is mistaken. Against the idea that a longer life would be better, it is claimed that negative psychological states, such as boredom, would be unavoidable if our lives were significantly longer. Against the idea that a deathless life would be better, it is claimed that such…Read more
  •  982
    The Termination Risks of Simulation Science
    Erkenntnis 85 (2): 489-509. 2020.
    Historically, the hypothesis that our world is a computer simulation has struck many as just another improbable-but-possible “skeptical hypothesis” about the nature of reality. Recently, however, the simulation hypothesis has received significant attention from philosophers, physicists, and the popular press. This is due to the discovery of an epistemic dependency: If we believe that our civilization will one day run many simulations concerning its ancestry, then we should believe that we are pr…Read more
  •  402
    Success-First Decision Theories
    In Arif Ahmed (ed.), Newcomb's Problem, Cambridge University Press. 2018.
    The standard formulation of Newcomb's problem compares evidential and causal conceptions of expected utility, with those maximizing evidential expected utility tending to end up far richer. Thus, in a world in which agents face Newcomb problems, the evidential decision theorist might ask the causal decision theorist: "if you're so smart, why ain’cha rich?” Ultimately, however, the expected riches of evidential decision theorists in Newcomb problems do not vindicate their theory, because their su…Read more
  •  356
    When Is A Belief True Because Of Luck?
    Philosophical Quarterly 63 (252): 465-475. 2013.
    Many epistemologists are attracted to the claim that knowledge possession excludes luck. Virtue epistemologists attempt to clarify this idea by holding that knowledge requires apt belief: belief that is true because of an agent's epistemic virtues, and not because of luck. Thinking about aptness may have the potential to make progress on important questions in epistemology, but first we must possess an adequate account of when a belief is true because of luck. Existing treatments of aptness assu…Read more
  •  230
    Hedonic and Non-Hedonic Bias toward the Future
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (1): 148-163. 2021.
    It has widely been assumed, by philosophers, that our first-person preferences regarding pleasurable and painful experiences exhibit a bias toward the future (positive and negative hedonic future-bias), and that our preferences regarding non-hedonic events (both positive and negative) exhibit no such bias (non-hedonic time-neutrality). Further, it has been assumed that our third-person preferences are always time-neutral. Some have attempted to use these (presumed) differential patterns of futur…Read more
  •  179
    Against Time Bias
    Ethics 125 (4): 947-970. 2015.
    Most of us display a bias toward the near: we prefer pleasurable experiences to be in our near future and painful experiences to be in our distant future. We also display a bias toward the future: we prefer pleasurable experiences to be in our future and painful experiences to be in our past. While philosophers have tended to think that near bias is a rational defect, almost no one finds future bias objectionable. In this essay, we argue that this hybrid position is untenable. We conclude that t…Read more
  •  96
    The Rationality of Near Bias toward both Future and Past Events
    with Alex Holcombe, Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller, and James Norton
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1-18. forthcoming.
    In recent years, a disagreement has erupted between two camps of philosophers about the rationality of bias toward the near (“near bias”) and bias toward the future (“future bias”). According to the traditional hybrid view, near bias is rationally impermissible, while future bias is either rationally permissible or obligatory. Time neutralists, meanwhile, argue that the hybrid view is untenable. Time-neutralists argue that those who reject near bias should reject both biases and embrace time-neu…Read more
  •  81
    Why are people so darn past biased?
    In Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack & Alison Sutton Fernandes (eds.), Temporal Asymmetries in Philosophy and Psychology., Oup. forthcoming.
    Many philosophers have assumed that our preferences regarding hedonic events exhibit a bias toward the future: we prefer positive experiences to be in our future and negative experiences to be in our past. Recent experimental work by Greene et al. (ms) confirmed this assumption. However, they noted a potential for some participants to respond in a deviant manner, and hence for their methodology to underestimate the percentage of people who are time neutral, and overestimate the percentage who ar…Read more
  •  69
    Philosophers working on time-biases assume that people are hedonically biased toward the future. A hedonically future-biased agent prefers pleasurable experiences to be future instead of past, and painful experiences to be past instead of future. Philosophers further predict that this bias is strong enough to apply to unequal payoffs: people often prefer less pleasurable future experiences to more pleasurable past ones, and more painful past experiences to less painful future ones. In addition, …Read more
  •  50
    Act Consequentialism without Free Rides
    with Benjamin A. Levinstein
    Philosophical Perspectives 34 (1): 88-116. 2020.
    Consequentialist theories determine rightness solely based on real or expected consequences. Although such theories are popular, they often have difficulty with generalizing intuitions, which demand concern for questions like “What if everybody did that?” Rule consequentialism attempts to incorporate these intuitions by shifting the locus of evaluation from the consequences of acts to those of rules. However, detailed rule-consequentialist theories seem ad hoc or arbitrary compared to act conseq…Read more
  •  47
    Until recently, philosophers debating the rationality of time-biases have supposed that people exhibit a first-person hedonic bias toward the future, but that their non-hedonic and third-person preferences are time-neutral. Recent empirical work, however, suggests that our preferences are more nuanced. First, there is evidence that our third-person preferences exhibit time-neutrality only when the individual with respect to whom we have preferences—the preference target—is a random stranger abou…Read more
  •  46
    How much do we discount past pleasures?
    American Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
    Future-biased individuals systematically prefer pleasures to be in the future (positive future-bias) and pains to be in the past (negative future-bias). Recent empirical research shows that negative future-bias exists and that it is strong: people prefer more past pain to less future pain. In fact, people prefer ten units of past pain to one unit of future pain. By contrast, this research shows that people do not prefer ten units of past pleasure to one unit of future pleasure. Thus the question…Read more
  •  33
    Rationality and Success
    Dissertation, Rutgers University - New Brunswick. 2013.
    Standard theories of rational decision making and rational preference embrace the idea that there is something special about the present. Standard decision theory, for example, demands that agents privilege the perspective of the present (i.e., the time of decision) in evaluating what to do. When forming preferences, most philosophers believe that a similar focus on the present is justified, at least in the sense that rationality requires or permits future experiences to be given more weight tha…Read more
  •  28
    'It Doesn’t Matter Because One Day it Will End'
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (1): 165-182. 2021.
    The inference that things do not matter because they will end is a source of despair for reflective people that features in literature, popular culture, and philosophy. Are there sound arguments in support of the inference? I first review three arguments that have been put forward in the existing philosophical literature and consider the objections that can be made against them. While the objections appear persuasive, these arguments do not exhaust the plausible justifications for the inference.…Read more
  •  24
    The Real-Life Issue of Prepunishment
    Social Theory and Practice. forthcoming.
    When someone is prepunished, they are punished for a predicted crime they will or would commit. I argue that cases of prepunishment universally assumed to be merely hypothetical—including those in Philip K. Dick’s “The Minority Report”— are equivalent to some instances of the real-life punishment of attempt offenses. This conclusion puts pressure in two directions. If prepunishment is morally impermissible, as philosophers argue, then this calls for amendments to criminal justice theory and prac…Read more
  •  24
    I find much to like in Craig Callender's (2021) arguments for the rational permissibility of non-exponential time discounting when these arguments are viewed in a conditional form: viz., if one thinks that time discounting is rationally permissible, as the social scientist does, then one should think that non-exponential time discounting is too. However, time neutralists believe that time discounting is rationally impermissible, and thus they take zero time discounting to be the normative standa…Read more
  •  21
    The consequentialist problem with prepunishment
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (3): 199-208. 2021.
    This paper targets a nearly universal assumption in the philosophical literature: that prepunishment is unproblematic for consequentialists. Prepunishment threats do not deter, as deterrence is traditionally conceived. In fact, a pure prepunishment legal system would tend to increase the criminal disposition of the grudgingly compliant. This is a serious problem since, from many perspectives, but especially from a consequentialist one, a primary purpose of punishment is deterrence. I analyze the…Read more
  •  3
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.