• Fittingness Objections to Consequentialism
    In Christian Seidel (ed.), Consequentialism: New Directions, New Problems?, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    New work in the foundations of ethics—extending the fitting attitudes analysis of value to yield a broader notion of normative fittingness as a (or perhaps even the) fundamental normative concept—provides us with the resources to clarify and renew the force of traditional character-based objections to consequentialism. According to these revamped fittingness objections, consequentialism is incompatible with plausible claims about which attitudes are truly fitting. If a theory’s implications rega…Read more
  • Why Care About Non-Natural Reasons?
    American Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
    Are non-natural properties worth caring about? I consider two (related) objections to metaethical non-naturalism. According to the "intelligibility" objection, it would be positively unintelligible to care about non-natural properties that float free from the causal fabric of the cosmos. According to the "ethical idlers" objection, there is no compelling motivation to posit non-natural normative properties because the natural properties suffice to provide us with reasons. In both cases, I ar…Read more
  • Fittingness: The sole normative primitive
    Philosophical Quarterly 62 (249). 2012.
    This paper draws on the 'Fitting Attitudes' analysis of value to argue that we should take the concept of fittingness (rather than value) as our normative primitive. I will argue that the fittingness framework enhances the clarity and expressive power of our normative theorising. Along the way, we will see how the fittingness framework illuminates our understanding of various moral theories, and why it casts doubt on the Global Consequentialist idea that acts and (say) eye colours are normativel…Read more
  • The Limits of Kindness. By Caspar Hare (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 201403. 2014.
  • Rethinking the Asymmetry
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (2): 167-177. 2017.
    According to the Asymmetry, we’ve strong moral reason to prevent miserable lives from coming into existence, but no moral reason to bring happy lives into existence. This procreative asymmetry is often thought to be part of commonsense morality, however theoretically puzzling it might prove to be. I argue that this is a mistake. The Asymmetry is merely prima facie intuitive, and loses its appeal on further reflection. Mature commonsense morality recognizes no fundamental procreative asymmetry. I…Read more
  • Bioethicists often present ‘saving lives’ as a goal distinct from, and competing with, that of extending lives by as much as possible. I argue that this usage of the term is misleading, and provides unwarranted rhetorical support for neglecting the magnitudes of the harms and benefits at stake in medical allocation decisions, often to the detriment of the young. Equal concern for all persons requires weighting equal interests equally, but not all individuals have an equal interest in ‘life-savin…Read more
  • Is it ethical to pay patients for selecting cheaper medical treatments? The healthcare system in the United States is notoriously profligate, at least in part because when insurers foot the bill, patients have little incentive to avoid wasteful treatments. One familiar means for dealing with this problem is for insurers to offer reduced co-pays to patients who select cheaper treatments. Would it be ethical to take this one step further, beyond the zero bound, sharing the savings of cheaper treat…Read more
  • Virtue and Salience
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3): 449-463. 2016.
    This paper explores two ways in which evaluations of an agent's character as virtuous or vicious are properly influenced by what the agent finds salient or attention-grabbing. First, we argue that ignoring salient needs reveals a greater deficit of benevolent motivation in the agent, and hence renders the agent more blameworthy. We use this fact to help explain our ordinary intuition that failing to give to famine relief is in some sense less bad than failing to help a child who is drowning righ…Read more
  • Value Receptacles
    Noûs 49 (2): 322-332. 2015.
    Utilitarianism is often rejected on the grounds that it fails to respect the separateness of persons, instead treating people as mere “receptacles of value”. I develop several different versions of this objection, and argue that, despite their prima facie plausibility, they are all mistaken. Although there are crude forms of utilitarianism that run afoul of these objections, I advance a new form of the view—‘token-pluralistic utilitarianism’—that does not
  • Knowing What Matters
    In Peter Singer (ed.), Does Anything Really Matter? Parfit on Objectivity, Oxford University Press. pp. 149-167. 2017.
    Parfit's On What Matters offers a rousing defence of non-naturalist normative realism against pressing metaphysical and epistemological objections. He addresses skeptical arguments based on (i) the causal origins of our normative beliefs, and (ii) the appearance of pervasive moral disagreement. In both cases, he concedes the first step to the skeptic, but draws a subsequent distinction with which he hopes to stem the skeptic's advance. I argue, however, that these distinctions cannot bear the we…Read more
  • This paper considers the relation between the value of a whole (person, society) and its parts (timeslices, individuals), arguing that the contributory value of a part cannot be determined in isolation. For example, the value of an additional life may depend on what other lives there are. This has important implications for population ethics, and especially Parfit's 'repugnant conclusion'.
  • Mind-Body Meets Metaethics: A Moral Concept Strategy
    Philosophical Studies 165 (3): 865-878. 2013.
    The aim of this paper is to assess the relationship between anti-physicalist arguments in the philosophy of mind and anti-naturalist arguments in metaethics, and to show how the literature on the mind-body problem can inform metaethics. Among the questions we will consider are: (1) whether a moral parallel of the knowledge argument can be constructed to create trouble for naturalists, (2) the relationship between such a "Moral Knowledge Argument" and the familiar Open Question Argument, and (3) …Read more
  • Willpower Satisficing
    Noûs. forthcoming.
    Satisficing Consequentialism is often rejected as hopeless. Perhaps its greatest problem is that it risks condoning the gratuitous prevention of goodness above the baseline of what qualifies as "good enough". I propose a radical new willpower-based version of the view that avoids this problem, and that better fits with the motivation of avoiding an excessively demanding conception of morality. I further demonstrate how, by drawing on the resources of an independent theory of blameworthiness, we …Read more
  • This paper explores how insights from two-dimensional semantics can be brought to bear on debates surrounding (realist) metaethical naturalism. It defends two central claims. (1) A plausible principle of 2-D symmetry for normative terms provides us with reason to reject standard forms of synthetic metaethical naturalism. (2) Moore's Open Question Argument can be powerfully revived within the framework of 2-D semantics. I approach these issues by diagnosing how Attitudinal Semanticists' use of …Read more