•  143
    Sympathy and Benevolence in Hume's Moral Psychology
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 42 (3): 261-275. 2004.
    In this paper, I argue that Hume’s account of sympathy is substantially unchanged from the Treatise to the second Enquiry. I show that Hume uses the term ‘sympathy’ to refer to three different mental phenomena (a psychological mechanism or principle, a sentiment, and a conversion process) and that he consistently refers to sympathy as a cause of benevolent motivation. I attempt to resolve an apparent difficulty regarding sympathy and humanity by explaining how each is an ‘original principle’ in …Read more
  •  142
    Doxastic voluntarism
    Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008.
    Doxastic voluntarism is the philosophical doctrine according to which people have voluntary control over their beliefs. Philosophers in the debate about doxastic voluntarism distinguish between two kinds of voluntary control. The first is known as direct voluntary control and refers to acts which are such that if a person chooses to perform them, they happen immediately. For instance, a person has direct voluntary control over whether he or she is thinking about his or her favorite song at a giv…Read more
  •  114
    Descartes and the Question of Direct Doxastic Voluntarism
    Journal of Philosophical Research 35 107-21. 2010.
    In this paper, I clarify Descartes’s account of belief, in general, and of judgment, in particular. Then, drawing upon this clarification, I explain the type of direct doxastic voluntarism that he endorses. In particular, I attempt to demonstrate two claims. First, I argue that there is strong textual evidence that, on Descartes’s account, people have the ability to suspend, or to withhold, judgment directly by an act will. Second, I argue that there is weak and inconclusive textual evidence tha…Read more
  •  82
    The Ethics of Belief: Individual and Social (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2014.
    How do people form beliefs, and how should they do so? This book presents seventeen new essays on these questions, drawing together perspectives from philosophy and psychology. The first section explores the ethics of belief from an individualistic framework. It begins by examining the question of doxastic voluntarism-i.e., the extent to which people have control over their beliefs. It then shifts to focusing on the kinds of character that epistemic agents should cultivate, what their epistemic …Read more
  •  67
    Hume and the Limits of Benevolence
    Hume Studies 28 (2): 271-296. 2002.
    The purpose of this paper is to explain Hume’s account of the way both the scope and the degree of benevolent motivation is limited. I argue (i) that Hume consistently affirms, both in the Treatise and in the second Enquiry, that the scope of benevolent motivation is very broad, such that it includes any creature that is conscious and capable of thought, and (ii) that the degree of benevolent motivation is limited, such that a person is naturally inclined to feel benevolence more strongly for on…Read more
  •  65
    My aim, in this chapter, is to outline the key details of this particularly interesting aspect of Hume's philosophical system. My presentation will be threefold. In the first section of the paper, I will elucidate the nature of sympathy, drawing upon some of the more recent ways in which Hume's commentators have attempted to resolve the interpretive puzzles Hume's works present. In the second section, I will explicate some of the functions sympathy has in Hume's philosophy, including not only th…Read more
  •  52
    Doxastic Virtues in Hume’s Epistemology
    Hume Studies 35 (1-2): 211-29. 2009.
    In this paper, I elucidate Hume's account of doxastic virtues and offer three reasons that contemporary epistemologists ought to consider it as an alternative to one of the broadly Aristotelian models currently offered. Specifically, I suggest that Hume's account of doxastic virtues obviates (1) the much-debated question about whether such virtues are intellectual, "moral," or some combination thereof, (2) the much-debated question about whether people have voluntary control of their belief form…Read more
  •  40
    In this paper, I argue that Christ’s second love command implies not only that people’s volitions and actions be Christ-like, but also that their affective-motivational dispositions be Christ-like. More specifically, I argue that the command implies that people have aretaic obligations to strive to cultivate a merciful heart with the kind of affective depth described by St. Isaac of Syria in his 71st ascetical homily—i.e., one that is disposed to becoming inflamed, such that it is gripped by “st…Read more
  •  33
    In this paper, I examine one particular element of Hume’s psychology of religious belief. More specifically, I attempt to elucidate his account of what I call the sustaining causes of religious belief—that is, those causes that keep religious beliefs alive in modern human societies. In attempting to make some progress at clarifying this element of Hume’s psychology, I examine one particular ‘experiment’—namely, the case of Thomas More, a man who is, by Hume’s own admission, a person of remarkabl…Read more
  •  27
    The Divine Energies and the “End of Human Life”
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 91 (3): 473-489. 2017.
    In this paper, we elucidate an alternative conception of the “end of human life” that Germain Grisez considers but never develops. We then defend this conception against two key objections. We conclude by explaining a few ways that this alternative conception of the “end of human life” is particularly important both theologically and philosophically.
  •  23
    Mencius, Hume, and the Virtue of Humanity: Sources of Benevolent Moral Development
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 28 (4): 693-713. 2020.
    In this paper, we elucidate the moral psychology and what we might call the moral sociology of Mencius and of Hume, and we argue for three claims. First, we demonstrate that there are strong similarities between Mencius and Hume concerning some of the principal psychological sources of the virtue of humanity. Second, we show that there are strong similarities between the two concerning some of the principal social sources of the virtue of humanity. Third, we argue that there are related, though …Read more
  •  23
    Descartes’s concern with the proper method of belief formation is evident in the titles of his works—e.g., The Search after Truth, The Rules for the Direction of the Mind, and The Discourse on Method of rightly conducting one’s reason and seeking the truth in the sciences. It is most apparent, however, in his famous discussions, both in the Meditations and in the Principles, of one particularly noteworthy source of our doxastic errors—namely, the misuse of one’s will. What is not widely recogniz…Read more
  •  20
    Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (review)
    Faith and Philosophy 27 (1): 91-94. 2010.
  •  20
    Natural Law among Moral Strangers
    with B. Goss
    Christian Bioethics 20 (2): 283-300. 2014.
    Our goal in this paper is two-fold. First, we aim to clarify two ways in which contemporary Christian bioethicists have erred, on Engelhardt’s account, in their attempts to do bioethics within a distinctively non-Christian idiom, namely, either (1) by rejecting a principal metaethical thesis or (2) by misrepresenting a principal moral-epistemological thesis of natural-law ethics, properly construed. Second, we intend to show not only that Engelhardt can and should endorse the Christian bioethici…Read more
  •  12
    Recent work at the intersection of moral philosophy and the philosophy of psychology has dealt mostly with Aristotelian virtue ethics. The dearth of scholarship that engages with Hume’s moral philosophy, however, is both noticeable and peculiar. Hume's Moral Philosophy and Contemporary Psychology demonstrates how Hume’s moral philosophy comports with recent work from the empirical sciences and moral psychology. It shows how contemporary work in virtue ethics has much stronger similarities to the…Read more
  •  7
    Minding the 'Unbridgeable Gap': The Future of Conscientious Objection in a Secular Age
    with Alain Julian León
    Christian Bioethics 23 (2): 149-168. 2017.
    In this article, we offer a rebuttal to a key thesis in Chapter 5 of Engelhardt’s After God: namely, that there exists an “unbridgeable gap” between the dominant secular culture and traditional religious believers. Contra Engelhardt, we argue that it is possible to bridge the gap by employing a strategy that includes, but is not limited to, methods for cultivating understanding and respect and a sense of solidarity. Our argument proceeds in three steps. First, we elucidate Engelhardt’s thesis in…Read more
  •  7
    For the past two decades, the empirical adequacy of virtue has ethics has been challenged by proponents of situationism and defended by a wide variety of virtue ethics, working both in Western and in Eastern philosophy. Advocates of Humean virtue ethics, however, have (rather surprisingly) had little to say in this debate. In this chapter, I attempt to help fill this gap in Hume scholarship in three ways. First, I elucidate insights both from Hume and from his commentators to explain why a Humea…Read more
  •  5
    Turning East: Contemporary Philosophers and the Ancient Christian Faith (edited book)
    St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. 2012.
    The Orthodox Church is one of the largest religious groups in the world. Yet, it remains an enigma in the West, especially among those who mistake it either for a Greek version of Roman Catholicism or for an exotic mixture of Christianity and eastern religion. Many, however, are coming to recognize the Orthodox Church for what it is: a worldwide community of Christian disciples that has been faithful to the apostolic command, “stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by …Read more
  • My aim in this chapter is twofold. I attempt to provide an example of how (1) careful analysis in the history of philosophy can (2) elucidate contemporary debates about philosophical issues. My analysis of Hume’s account of the contagion of belief unfolds in three parts. In section one, I offer a summary of Hume’s account of the nature of beliefs concerning matters of fact. In section two, I elucidate his account of the “contagion of opinion” itself, explaining how beliefs are contagious, why th…Read more
  • ΑΤΕΝΙΖΟΝΤΑΣ ΤΟ ΦΩΣ (Facing towards the Light) is the Greek translation of Turning East.
  • In this concluding chapter to Hume’s Moral Philosophy and Contemporary Psychology, I identify and briefly discuss a series of questions that are particularly suggestive for promising avenues of future research. These questions concern six topics: (1) the nature of virtue, (2) the nature and role of sympathy, (3) the nature of moral development and moral education, (4) the nature and role of various passions, (5) the nature of moral motivation, and (6) the relationship between Hume’s ‘science of …Read more
  • Întoarcerea spre Răsărit
    Renastera. 2015.
    Întoarcerea spre Răsărit (Returning Eastward) is the Romanian translation of Turning East
  • Plato's Republic
    In Steven Wilkens & Don Thorsen (eds.), Twelve Great Books that Changed the University, . pp. 17-35. 2014.
    The aims of this volume, Twelve Great Books that Changed the University, are to introduce a dozen great books to non-specialists and to explain the impact of these texts both on the academy and on Christian life. In this chapter, I attempt to do three things in order to provide a helpful introduction to Plato's Republic. I begin by providing an overview of the work. I continue by explaining the enduring significance of the text for the university itself, for philosophy, and for related disciplin…Read more
  • My aim in this chapter is to help develop the groundwork for greater dialogue on ethical issues at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and the neptic tradition of Orthodox Christianity. My efforts towards this end proceed in three steps. In the first section, I offer some preliminary conceptual clarifications concerning the field of ethics. In the second section, I explain the Orthodox tradition in light of these conceptual clarifications and show that the Orthodox Christian way of life …Read more
  • In this chapter, I attempt to do three things in the hope of making some progress toward fostering greater collaboration between contemporary atheists and traditional Christians in addressing contentious moral problems. First, I argue that there is little hope, in our current cultural climate, that contemporary atheists and traditional Christians can come to consensus on principles that will help us resolve our differences regarding contemporary hot-button social issues. Second, I argue that des…Read more