•  52
    Measuring the Global Burden of Disease: Philosophical Dimensions (edited book)
    with Nir Eyal, Samia Hurst, Christopher Murray, and Daniel Wikler
    Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    The Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) is one of the largest-scale research collaborations in global health, distilling a wide range of health information to provide estimates and projections for more than 350 diseases, injuries, and risk factors in 195 countries. Its results are a critical tool informing researchers, policy-makers, and others working to promote health around the globe. A study like the GBD is, of course, extremely complex from an empirical perspective. But it also raises a l…Read more
  •  128
    What makes science trustworthy to the public? This chapter examines one proposed answer: the trustworthiness of science is based at least in part on its independence from the idiosyncratic values, interests, and ideas of individual scientists. That is, science is trustworthy to the extent that following the scientific process would result in the same conclusions, regardless of the particular scientists involved. We analyze this "idiosyncrasy-free ideal" for science by looking at philosophical d…Read more
  •  194
    Democratic Values: A Better Foundation for Public Trust in Science
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. 2018.
    There is a growing consensus among philosophers of science that core parts of the scientific process involve non-epistemic values. This undermines the traditional foundation for public trust in science. In this article I consider two proposals for justifying public trust in value-laden science. According to the first, scientists can promote trust by being transparent about their value choices. On the second, trust requires that the values of a scientist align with the values of an individual mem…Read more
  •  181
    Well-being, Opportunity, and Selecting for Disability
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 14 (1). 2018.
    In this paper I look at the much-discussed case of disabled parents seeking to conceive disabled children. I argue that the permissibility of selecting for disability does not depend on the precise impact the disability will have on the child’s wellbeing. I then turn to an alternative analysis, which argues that the permissibility of selecting for disability depends on the impact that disability will have on the child’s future opportunities. Nearly all bioethicists who have approached the issue …Read more
  •  219
    Which values should be built into economic measures?
    Economics and Philosophy 35 (3): 521-536. 2019.
    Many economic measures are structured to reflect ethical values. I describe three attitudes towards this: maximalism, according to which we should aim to build all relevant values into measures; minimalism, according to which we should aim to keep values out of measures; and an intermediate view. I argue the intermediate view is likely correct, but existing versions are inadequate. In particular, economists have strong reason to structure measures to reflect fixed, as opposed to user-assessable,…Read more
  •  31
    Is consistency overrated?
    Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (3): 199-200. 2018.
    In their insightful article, ‘The Disvalue of Death in the Global Burden of Disease’, Solberg et al argue that there is a potential incoherence in the way disability-adjusted life years are calculated. Morbidity is measured in years lived with disability in a way quite unlike the way mortality is measured in years of life lost. This potentially renders them incommensurable, like apples and oranges, and makes their aggregate—DALYs—conceptually unsound. The authors say that it is ‘vital’ to addres…Read more
  •  80
    Using Democratic Values in Science: An Objection and Response
    Philosophy of Science 84 (5): 1044-1054. 2017.
    Many philosophers of science have argued that social and ethical values have a significant role to play in core parts of the scientific process. This naturally suggests the following question: when such value choices need to be made, which or whose values should be used? A common answer to this question turns to democratic values—the values of the public or its representatives. I argue that this imposes a morally significant burden on certain scientists, effectively requiring them to advocate fo…Read more
  •  22
    The public vs. private value of health, and their relationship (review)
    Journal of Economic Methodology 24 (3): 349-355. 2017.
    We sometimes wonder how health is distributed in our society. We may also want to know about the efficiency of different health programmes. Which public measures promise the greatest overall improvements in health? It can be hard to know how to go about answering questions like these, in large part because the varieties of ill health are heterogeneous, as are their consequences. The solution that health economists have long adopted is to appeal to summary or generic measures of health, such as t…Read more
  •  76
    Value Choices in Summary Measures of Population Health
    Public Health Ethics 10 (2): 176-187. 2017.
    Summary measures of health, such as the quality-adjusted life year and disability-adjusted life year, have long been known to incorporate a number of value choices. In this paper, though, I show that the value choices in the construction of such measures extend far beyond what is generally recognized. In showing this, I hope both to improve the understanding of those measures by epidemiologists, health economists and policy-makers, and also to contribute to the general debate about the extent to…Read more
  •  433
    Much academic work (in philosophy, economics, law, etc.), as well as common sense, assumes that ill health reduces well-being. It is bad for a person to become sick, injured, disabled, etc. Empirical research, however, shows that people living with health problems report surprisingly high levels of well-being - in some cases as high as the self-reported well-being of healthy people. In this chapter, I explore the relationship between health and well-being. I argue that although we have good reas…Read more
  •  532
    Rethinking Health: Healthy or Healthier than?
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1): 131-159. 2013.
    Theorists of health have, to this point, focused exclusively on trying to define a state—health—that an organism might be in. I argue that they have overlooked the possibility of a comparativist theory of health, which would begin by defining a relation—healthier than—that holds between two organisms or two possible states of the same organism. I show that a comparativist approach to health has a number of attractive features, and has important implications for philosophers of medicine, bioethic…Read more
  •  857
    Imperfect Duties, Group Obligations, and Beneficence
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (5): 557-584. 2014.
    There is virtually no philosophical consensus on what, exactly, imperfect duties are. In this paper, I lay out three criteria which I argue any adequate account of imperfect duties should satisfy. Using beneficence as a leading example, I suggest that existing accounts of imperfect duties will have trouble meeting those criteria. I then propose a new approach: thinking of imperfect duties as duties held by groups, rather than individuals. I show, again using the example of beneficence, that this…Read more
  •  467
    Define teleology as the view that requirements hold in virtue of facts about value or goodness. Teleological views are quite popular, and in fact some philosophers (e.g. Dreier, Smith) argue that all (plausible) moral theories can be understood teleologically. I argue, however, that certain well-known cases show that the teleologist must at minimum assume that there are certain facts that an agent ought to know, and that this means that requirements can't, in general, hold in virtue of facts abo…Read more
  •  504
    Consequentializing and its consequences
    Philosophical Studies 174 (6): 1475-1497. 2017.
    Recently, a number of philosophers have argued that we can and should “consequentialize” non-consequentialist moral theories, putting them into a consequentialist framework. I argue that these philosophers, usually treated as a group, in fact offer three separate arguments, two of which are incompatible. I show that none represent significant threats to a committed non-consequentialist, and that the literature has suffered due to a failure to distinguish these arguments. I conclude by showing th…Read more
  •  179
    Incidence, Prevalence, and Hybrid Approaches to Calculating DALYs
    Population Health Metrics 10 (19). 2012.
    When disability-adjusted life years are used to measure the burden of disease on a population in a time interval, they can be calculated in several different ways: from an incidence, pure prevalence, or hybrid perspective. I show that these calculation methods are not equivalent and discuss some of the formal difficulties each method faces. I show that if we don’t discount the value of future health, there is a sense in which the choice of calculation method is a mere question of accounting. Suc…Read more