•  72
    Algorithms and the Individual in Criminal Law
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Law-enforcement agencies are increasingly able to leverage crime statistics to make risk predictions for particular individuals, employing a form of inference some condemn as violating the right to be "treated as an individual". I suggest that the right encodes agents' entitlement to fair distribution of the burdens and benefits of the rule of law. Rather than precluding statistical prediction, it requires that citizens be able to anticipate which variables will be used as predictors, and act i…Read more
  •  173
    #BelieveWomen and the Ethics of Belief
    In NOMOS LXIV: Truth and Evidence. forthcoming.
    ​I evaluate a suggestion, floated by Kimberly Ferzan (this volume), that the twitter hashtag campaign #BelieveWomen is best accommodated by non-reductionist views of testimonial justification. I argue that the issue is ultimately one about the ethical obligation to trust women, rather than a question of what grounds testimonial justification. I also suggest that the hashtag campaign does not simply assert that ‘we should trust women’, but also militates against a pernicious striking-property gen…Read more
  •  128
    Varieties of Moral Encroachment
    Philosophical Perspectives 34 (1): 5-26. 2020.
    Several authors have recently suggested that moral factors and norms `encroach' on the epistemic, and because of salient parallels to pragmatic encroachment views in epistemology, these suggestions have been dubbed `moral encroachment views'. This paper distinguishes between variants of the moral encroachment thesis, pointing out how they address different problems, are motivated by different considerations, and are not all subject to the same objections. It also explores how the family of moral…Read more
  •  332
    The Moral Grounds of Reasonably Mistaken Self-Defense
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103 (1): 140-156. 2021.
    Some, but not all, of the mistakes a person makes when acting in apparently necessary self-defense are reasonable: we take them not to violate the rights of the apparent aggressor. I argue that this is explained by duties grounded in agents' entitlements to a fair distribution of the risk of suffering unjust harm. I suggest that the content of these duties is filled in by a social signaling norm, and offer some moral constraints on the form such a norm can take.
  •  214
    The Language of Mental Illness
    In Justin Khoo & Rachel Katharine Sterken (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Social and Political Philosophy of Language, Routledge. forthcoming.
    This paper surveys some philosophical issues with the language surrounding mental illness, but is especially focused on pejoratives relating to mental illness. I argue that though 'crazy' and similar mental illness-based epithets (MI-epithets) are not best understood as slurs, they do function to isolate, exclude, and marginalize members of the targeted group in ways similar to the harmfulness of slurs more generally. While they do not generally express the hate/contempt characteristic of weapon…Read more
  •  182
    In some cases, there appears to be an asymmetry in the evidential value of statistical and more individualized evidence. For example, while I may accept that Alex is guilty based on eyewitness testimony that is 80% likely to be accurate, it does not seem permissible to do so based on the fact that 80% of a group that Alex is a member of are guilty. In this paper I suggest that rather than reflecting a deep defect in statistical evidence, this asymmetry might arise from a general constraint on ra…Read more
  •  280
    Contested Slurs
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 97 (1): 11-30. 2020.
    Sometimes speakers within a linguistic community use a term that they do not conceptualize as a slur, but which other members of that community do. Sometimes these speakers are ignorant or naïve, but not always. This article explores a puzzle raised when some speakers stubbornly maintain that a contested term t is not derogatory. Because the semantic content of a term depends on the language, to say that their use of t is semantically derogatory despite their claims and intentions, we must indiv…Read more
  •  88
    Demographic statistics in defensive decisions
    Synthese 198 (5): 4833-4850. 2019.
    A popular informal argument suggests that statistics about the preponderance of criminal involvement among particular demographic groups partially justify others in making defensive mistakes against members of the group. One could worry that evidence-relative accounts of moral rights vindicate this argument. After constructing the strongest form of this objection, I offer several replies: most demographic statistics face an unmet challenge from reference class problems, even those that meet it f…Read more
  •  256
    Moral Risk and Communicating Consent
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 47 (2): 179-207. 2019.
    In addition to protecting agents’ autonomy, consent plays a crucial social role: it enables agents to secure partners in valuable interactions that would be prohibitively morally risk otherwise. To do this, consent must be observable: agents must be able to track the facts about whether they have received a consent-based permission. I argue that this morally justifies a consent-practice on which communicating that one consents is sufficient for consent, but also generates robust constraints on w…Read more
  •  595
    Strictly speaking
    Analysis 80 (1): 3-11. 2020.
    A type of argument occasionally made in metaethics, epistemology and philosophy of science notes that most ordinary uses of some expression fail to satisfy the strictest interpretation of the expression, and concludes that the ordinary assertions are false. This requires there to be a presumption in favour of a strict interpretation of expressions that admit of interpretations at different levels of strictness. We argue that this presumption is unmotivated, and thus the arguments fail.
  •  284
    I argue that inferences from highly probabilifying racial generalizations are not solely objectionable because acting on such inferences would be problematic, or they violate a moral norm, but because they violate a distinctively epistemic norm. They involve accepting a proposition when, given the costs of a mistake, one is not adequately justified in doing so. First I sketch an account of the nature of adequate justification—practical adequacy with respect to eliminating the ~p possibilities fr…Read more
  •  89
    Reasonable Mistakes and Regulative Norms: Racial Bias in Defensive Harm
    Journal of Political Philosophy 25 (1): 196-217. 2017.
    A regulative norm for permissible defense distinguishes the conditions under which we will hold defenders to be innocent of any wrongdoing from those in which we hold them responsible for assault or manslaughter. The norm must strike a fair balance between defenders' security, on the one hand, and other agents’ legitimate claim to live without fear of suffering mistaken defensive harm, on the other. Since agents must make defensive decisions under high pressure and on only partial information, t…Read more
  •  115
    Revisiting the Right to Do Wrong
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1): 43-57. 2017.
    Rights to do wrong are not necessary even within the framework of interest-based rights aimed at preserving autonomy. Agents can make morally significant choices and develop their moral character without a right to do wrong, so long as we allow that there can be moral variation within the set of actions that an agent is permitted to perform. Agents can also engage in non-trivial self-constitution in choosing between morally indifferent options, so long as there is adequate non-moral variation am…Read more
  •  1465
    The Pragmatics of Slurs
    Noûs 51 (3): 439-462. 2017.
    I argue that the offense generation pattern of slurring terms parallels that of impoliteness behaviors, and is best explained by appeal to similar purely pragmatic mechanisms. In choosing to use a slurring term rather than its neutral counterpart, the speaker signals that she endorses the term. Such an endorsement warrants offense, and consequently slurs generate offense whenever a speaker's use demonstrates a contrastive preference for the slurring term. Since this explanation comes at low theo…Read more