•  12
    The limits of moral imagination
    Metascience 31 (3): 369-372. 2022.
  •  8
    Death Sentences
    Philosophy of Medicine 3 (1). 2022.
    There are many analogies between medical and judicial practice. This article explores one such analogy, between “medicalization” and “criminalization.” Specifically, drawing on an analogy between a judge’s speech act of delivering a verdict and a physician’s speech act of giving a diagnosis, it suggests a novel account of the phenomenon of “overdiagnosis.” Using this approach, we can make some headway in understanding debates over the early detection of cancer. The final section outlines the rel…Read more
  •  219
    In this article, we aim to map out the complexities which characterise debates about the ethics of vaccine distribution, particularly those surrounding the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. In doing so, we distinguish three general principles which might be used to distribute goods and two ambiguities in how one might wish to spell them out. We then argue that we can understand actual debates around the COVID-19 vaccine – including those over prioritising vaccinating the most vulnerable – as…Read more
  •  6
    This paper explores some of the ethical issues around offering COVID-19 vaccines to children. My main conclusion is rather paradoxical: the younger we go, the stronger the grounds for justified parental hesitancy and, as such, the stronger the arguments for enforcing vaccination. I suggest that this is not thereductio ad absurdumit appears, but does point to difficult questions about the nature of parental authority in vaccination cases. The first section sketches the disagreement over vaccinati…Read more
  •  16
    “First, Do No Harm”?
    with Joseph Wu
    Social Theory and Practice 48 (3): 525-551. 2022.
    Screening for asymptomatic disease is a routine aspect of contemporary public health practice. However, it is also controversial, because it leads to overdiagnosis and overtreatment, with many arguing that programmes are “ineffective,” i.e., the “costs” outweigh the “benefits.” This paper explores a more fundamental objection to screening programmes: that, even if they are effective, they are ethically impermissible because they breach the principle of non-maleficence. In so doing, it suggests a…Read more
  •  13
    The Two Virtues of Science
    Spontaneous Generations 10 (1): 47-53. 2022.
    During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was disagreement over whether the science supported facemask mandates. This paper interrogates debates over this question, paying particular attention to an ambiguity between two scientific virtues: epistemic caution and epistemic responsiveness. I suggest that there is an argument from each virtue to reasons to trust scientists’ claims in policy debate. However, as the case of facemask debates illustrates, it is not clear that scientists can possess both virt…Read more
  •  28
    Objectivity in Science
    Cambridge University Press. 2021.
    Objectivity is a key concept both in how we talk about science in everyday life and in the philosophy of science. This Element explores various ways in which recent philosophers of science have thought about the nature, value and achievability of objectivity. The first section explains the general trend in recent philosophy of science away from a notion of objectivity as a 'view from nowhere' to a focus on the relationship between objectivity and trust. Section 2 discusses the relationship betwe…Read more
  •  162
    Lockdown measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic involve placing huge burdens on some members of society for the sake of benefiting other members of society. How should we decide when these policies are permissible? Many writers propose we should address this question using cost-benefit analysis, a broadly consequentialist approach. We argue for an alternative non-consequentialist approach, grounded in contractualist moral theorising. The first section sets up key issues in the ethics of l…Read more
  •  6
    Scientific deceit
    Synthese 198 (1): 373-394. 2018.
    This paper argues for a novel account of deceitful scientific communication, as “wishful speaking”. This concept is of relevance both to philosophy of science and to discussions of the ethics of lying and misleading. Section 1 outlines a case-study of “ghost-managed” research. Section 2 introduces the concept of “wishful speaking” and shows how it relates to other forms of misleading communication. Sections 3–5 consider some complications raised by the example of pharmaceutical research; concern…Read more
  •  80
    The Ethics of Lockdown: Communication, Consequences, and the Separateness of Persons
    Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 30 (3): 265-289. 2020.
    In many countries and regions across the world, the initial response to the massive health risks posed by COVID-19 has been the institution of lockdown measures. Although they vary from place to place, these measures all involve trade-offs between ethical goods and imperatives, imposing significant restrictions on central human capabilities—including citizens’ ability to work, socialize, exercise democratic rights, and access education—in the name of protecting population health. As such, it see…Read more
  •  26
    Should Science Lead?
    The Philosophers' Magazine 90 58-63. 2020.
  •  19
    Patient Preference Predictors, Apt Categorization, and Respect for Autonomy
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 39 (2): 169-177. 2014.
    In this paper, I set out two ethical complications for Rid and Wendler’s proposal that a “Patient Preference Predictor” (PPP) should be used to aid decision making about incapacitated patients’ care. Both of these worries concern how a PPP might categorize patients. In the first section of the paper, I set out some general considerations about the “ethics of apt categorization” within stratified medicine and show how these challenge certain PPPs. In the second section, I argue for a more specifi…Read more
  •  35
    This paper re-interprets the precautionary principle as a ‘social epistemic rule’. First, it argues that sometimes policy-makers should act on claims which have not been scientifically established....
  •  46
    Science, truth and dictatorship: Wishful thinking or wishful speaking?
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 78 64-72. 2019.
  •  27
    This paper uses the case-study of controversy over the MMT vaccine to suggest that non-expert audiences might have a fairness-based "political" obligation to defer to expert scientific consensus. The first part of the paper notes various reasons why it is implausible to argue that non-experts are epistemically obliged to defer to the consensus. The second draws on the literature on vaccination ethics more generally to argue for the alternative political obligation to defer. The third section con…Read more
  •  6
    No genes, please: we’re British
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (4): 828-830. 2012.
  •  12
    Like many, I find the idea of relying on patient preference predictors in life-or-death cases ethically troubling. As part of his stimulating discussion, Sharadin1 diagnoses such unease as a worry that using PPPs disrespects patients’ autonomy, by treating their most intimate and significant desires as if they were caused by their demographic traits. I agree entirely with Sharadin’s ‘debunking’ response to this concern: we can use statistical correlations to predict others’ preferences without t…Read more
  •  21
    Many public debates over policies aimed at curbing alcohol consumption start from an assumption that policies should not affect ‘responsible’ drinkers. In this article, I examine this normative claim, which I call prudentialism. In the first part of the article, I argue that prudentialism is both a demanding and distinctive doctrine, which philosophers should consider seriously. In the middle sections, I examine the relationship between prudentialism and two familiar topics in public health ethi…Read more
  •  126
    In the first part of the paper, three objections to the precautionary principle are outlined: the principle requires some account of how to balance risks of significant harms; the principle focuses on action and ignores the costs of inaction; and the principle threatens epistemic anarchy. I argue that these objections may overlook two distinctive features of precautionary thought: a suspicion of the value of “full scientific certainty”; and a desire to distinguish environmental doings from allow…Read more
  •  27
    In this paper the coherence of the precautionary principle as a guide to public health policy is considered. Two conditions that any account of the principle must meet are outlined, a condition of practicality and a condition of publicity. The principle is interpreted in terms of a tripartite division of the outcomes of action . Such a division of outcomes can be justified on either “consequentialist” or “deontological” grounds. In the second half of the paper, it is argued that the precautionar…Read more
  •  66
    Titanic Ethics, Pirate Ethics, Bio-Ethics: Essay Review of Paul, Miller and Paul, eds., Bioethics (review)
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Series C 35 (21): 177-184. 2004.
  •  15
    No genes, please: we ’re British‘
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (4): 828-830. 2012.
  •  11
    Pre-natal-diagnosis technologies allow parents to discover whether their child is likely to suffer from serious disability. One argument for state funding of access to such technologies is that doing so would be “cost-effective”, in the sense that the expected financial costs of such a programme would be outweighed by expected “benefits”, stemming from the births of fewer children with serious disabilities. This argument is extremely controversial. This paper argues that the argument may not be …Read more
  •  15
    In this article, I respond to ‘Fighting Status Inequalities’. I first note a niggle about the paper’s assumption that lowering socio-economic inequalities will lower the social gradient in health. I then suggest two further ways in which neorepublicanism may relate to social epidemiology: in terms of ‘moral physiology’ and through analysing which inequalities are unjust.
  •  56
    Risk, Contractualism, and Rose's "Prevention Paradox"
    Social Theory and Practice 40 (1): 28-50. 2014.
    Geoffrey Rose’s prevention paradox points to a tension between two prima facie plausible moral principles: that we should save the greater number and that weshould save the most at risk. This paper argues that a novel moral theory, ex-ante contractualism, captures our intuitions in many prevention paradox cases, regardless of our interpretation of probability claims. However, it goes on to show that it might be impossible to square ex-ante contractualism with all of our moral intuitions. It conc…Read more
  •  125
    Inductive risk and the contexts of communication
    Synthese 192 (1): 79-96. 2015.
    In recent years, the argument from inductive risk against value free science has enjoyed a revival. This paper investigates and clarifies this argument through means of a case-study: neonicitinoid research. Sect. 1 argues that the argument from inductive risk is best conceptualised as a claim about scientists’ communicative obligations. Sect. 2 then shows why this argument is inapplicable to “public communication”. Sect. 3 outlines non-epistemic reasons why non-epistemic values should not play a…Read more
  • Titanic ethics, pirate ethics, bioethics: Bioethics Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller, Jr., & Jeffrey Paul (Eds.); Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York & Melbourne, 2002, pp. xvii+ 396, Price£ 15.95 paperback, ISBN 0-521-52526-8 (review)
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 35 (1): 177-184. 2004.