University of Arizona
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1992
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America
Areas of Specialization
Normative Ethics
  •  782
    Moral Realism: A Defence
    Oxford University Press. 2003.
    Moral Realism is a systematic defence of the idea that there are objective moral standards. Russ Shafer-Landau argues that there are moral principles that are true independently of what anyone, anywhere, happens to think of them. His central thesis, as well as the many novel supporting arguments used to defend it, will spark much controversy among those concerned with the foundations of ethics.
  •  323
    Evolutionary Debunking, Moral Realism and Moral Knowledge
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 7 (1): 1-38. 2012.
    This paper reconstructs what I take to be the central evolutionary debunking argument that underlies recent critiques of moral realism. The argument claims that given the extent of evolutionary influence on our moral faculties, and assuming the truth of moral realism, it would be a massive coincidence were our moral faculties reliable ones. Given this coincidence, any presumptive warrant enjoyed by our moral beliefs is defeated. So if moral realism is true, then we can have no warranted moral be…Read more
  •  261
    A defence of categorical reasons
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 109 (1pt2): 189-206. 2009.
    In this paper I offer two arguments designed to defend the existence of categorical reasons, which I define as those justifying considerations that obtain independently of their relation to an agent's commitments. The first argument is based on certain paradigm cases meant to reveal difficulties for practical instrumentalism—the view, as I define it here, that categorical reasons do not exist, because all reasons must serve the commitments of the agents to whom they apply. The second argument re…Read more
  •  238
    Ethical disagreement, ethical objectivism and moral indeterminacy
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (2): 331-344. 1994.
  •  177
    Moral and theological realism: The explanatory argument
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 4 (3): 311-329. 2007.
    There are striking parallels, largely unexplored in the literature, between skeptical arguments against theism and against moral realism. After sketching four arguments meant to do this double duty, I restrict my attention to an explanatory argument that claims that we have most reason to deny the existence of moral facts (and so, by extrapolation, theistic ones), because such putative facts have no causal-explanatory power. I reject the proposed parity, and offer reasons to think that the poten…Read more
  •  173
    Ethical Theory: An Anthology (edited book)
    Wiley-Blackwell. 2007.
    _Ethical Theory: An Anthology_ is an authoritative collection of key essays by top scholars in the field, addressing core issues including consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics, as well as traditionally underrepresented topics such as moral knowledge and moral responsibility. Brings together seventy-six classic and contemporary pieces by renowned philosophers, from classic writing by Hume and Kant to contemporary writing by Derek Parfit, Susan Wolf, and Judith Jarvis Thomson Guides stu…Read more
  •  144
    Moral judgement and normative reasons
    Analysis 59 (1): 33-40. 1999.
  •  135
    Three problems for Schroeder’s hypotheticalism (review)
    Philosophical Studies 157 (3): 435-443. 2012.
    Three problems for Schroeder’s Humean theory of reasons.
  •  126
    Moral rules
    Ethics 107 (4): 584-611. 1997.
    The traditional conception of ethical theory sees it as the project of developing a coherent set of rules from which one can infer all determinate moral verdicts. I am not optimistic about the prospects for constructing such a theory. To explain this pessimism, we need to understand what moral rules are and what roles they might play in ethical theory
  •  120
    A defense of motivational externalism
    Philosophical Studies 97 (3): 267-291. 2000.
  •  115
  •  114
    Vagueness, Borderline Cases and Moral Realism
    American Philosophical Quarterly 32 (1). 1995.
  •  103
    Retributivism and desert
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (2). 2000.
  •  96
    Can punishment morally educate?
    Law and Philosophy 10 (2). 1991.
    Over the past ten years or so, there has been a renewed interest in the moral education theory of punishment. The attractions of the theory are numerous, not least of which is that it offers hopes for a breakthrough in the apparently intractable debate between deterrence theorists and retributivists. Nevertheless, I believe there are severe problems with recent formulations of the theory. First, contemporary educationists all place great emphasis on autonomy, yet fail to show how continued respe…Read more
  •  91
    Moral judgement and moral motivation
    Philosophical Quarterly 48 (192): 353-358. 1998.
    I criticize an important argument of Michael Smith, from his recent book The Moral Problem (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994). Smith's argument, if sound, would undermine one form of moral externalism 2013 that which insists that moral judgements only contingently motivate their authors. Smith claims that externalists must view good agents as always prompted by the motive of duty, and that possession of such a motive impugns the goodness of the agent. I argue (i) that externalists do not (ordinarily) nee…Read more
  •  88
    The meaning of moral disagreements
    The Philosophers' Magazine 59 (59): 83-89. 2012.
  •  80
    Vegetarianism, causation and ethical theory
    Public Affairs Quarterly 8 (1): 85-100. 1994.
  •  73
    Replies to Critics
    Philosophical Studies 126 (2): 313-329. 2005.
  •  52
    The Fundamentals of Ethics
    Oxford University Press. 2009.
    Introduction -- Part I: The good life -- Hedonism : its powerful appeal -- Is happiness all that matters? -- Getting what you want -- Problems for the desire theory -- Part II: Doing the right thing -- Morality and religion -- Natural law theory -- Psychological egoism -- Ethical egoism -- Consequentialism : its nature and attractions -- Consequentialism : its difficulties -- The kantian perspective : fairness and justice -- The kantian perspective : autonomy and respect -- The social contract t…Read more
  •  43
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics: Volume 4 (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2009.
    This is a periodical publication devoted to original philosophical work on the foundations of ethics and includes study being carried out at the intersections ...
  •  37
    On the Evaluation of Rationality
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 41 (S1): 137-140. 2003.
  •  36
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2010.
    The essays included in the series provide an excellent basis for understanding recent developments in the field; those who would like to acquaint themselves ...
  •  32
    Knowing right from wrong
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (1). 2001.
    No abstract
  •  31
    Liberalism and paternalism
    Legal Theory 11 (3): 169-191. 2005.
  •  31
    Review: Replies to Critics (review)
    Philosophical Studies 126 (2). 2005.
  •  30
    Oxford Studies in Metaethics: Volume 1 (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2006.
    The contents of the inaugural volume of Oxford Studies in Metaethics nicely mirror the variety of issues that make this area of philosophy so interesting. The volume opens with Peter Railton's exploration of some central features of normative guidance, the mental states that underwrite it, and its relationship to our reasons for feeling and acting. In the next offering, Terence Cuneo takes up the case against expressivism, arguing that its central account of the nature of moral judgments is badl…Read more