•  16
    Rethinking Hare's Analysis of Moral Thinking
    Utilitas 32 (2): 181-198. 2020.
    R. M. Hare has an ambitious project of arguing from a limited set of premises about the nature of moral thought and language all the way to substantive utilitarian conclusions. I reconstruct Hare's argument, identify an important problem for Hare, and then develop and endorse a restricted Hare-like argument. This argument is less ambitious than Hare's, and does not substantiate utilitarian conclusions on its own, but I demonstrate that it nonetheless imposes important constraints on moral judgem…Read more
  •  28
    Support for Voluntary Euthanasia with No Logical Slippery Slope to Non-Voluntary Euthanasia
    Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 28 (1): 23-48. 2018.
    This paper will address the ethics of euthanasia, understood as an interaction between a patient and a physician in which the physician behaves in a way that is intended to lead to the death of the patient, for the patient's own sake. Forms of euthanasia are often categorized as active or passive, with the distinction lying in the extent to which the physician either actively causes the patient's death or else passively allows the patient to die of an underlying medical condition. That distincti…Read more
  •  56
    Original Position Models, Trade-offs and Continuity
    Utilitas 28 (3): 254-287. 2016.
    John Harsanyi has offered an argument grounded in Bayesian decision theory that purports to show that John Rawls's original position analysis leads directly to utilitarian conclusions. After explaining why a prominent Rawlsian line of response to Harsanyi's argument fails, I argue that a seemingly innocuous Bayesian rationality assumption, the continuity axiom, is at the heart of a fundamental disagreement between Harsanyi and Rawls. The most natural way for a Rawlsian to respond to Harsanyi's l…Read more
  •  195
    Fellow Citizenship and U.S. Welfare Policy
    International Journal of Applied Philosophy 22 (2): 281-301. 2008.
    This paper offers an assessment of current welfare policy in the United States. I argue that there is a genuine set of reciprocal obligations owed between fellow citizens that both justify and constrain U.S. welfare policy. In particular, I argue that there is both a widespread duty for potential welfare recipients to seek employment and a similarly robust obligation for other members of society to provide publicly funded jobs of last resort for those unable to find traditional employment. This …Read more
  •  166
    Saving for Retirement Without Harming Others
    Journal of Business Ethics 113 (1): 147-156. 2013.
    This article discusses moral issues raised by defined contribution retirement plans, specifically 401(k) plans in the United States. The primary aim is to defend the claim that the federal government ought to require 401(k) plans to include a range of socially responsible investment (SRI) options. The analysis begins with the minimal assumption that corporations engage in behavior that imposes morally impermissible harms on others with sufficient regularity to warrant attention. After motivating…Read more
  •  290
    Absolute value as belief
    Philosophical Studies 148 (2). 2010.
    In “Desire as Belief” and “Desire as Belief II,” David Lewis ( 1988 , 1996 ) considers the anti-Humean position that beliefs about the good require corresponding desires, which is his way of understanding the idea that beliefs about the good are capable of motivating behavior. He translates this anti-Humean claim into decision theoretic terms and demonstrates that it leads to absurdity and contradiction. As Ruth Weintraub ( 2007 ) has shown, Lewis’ argument goes awry at the outset. His decision …Read more
  •  644
    This paper explores the implications of libertarianism for welfare policy. There are two central arguments. First, the paper argues that if one adopts a libertarian framework, it makes most sense to be a Lockean right-libertarian. Second, the paper argues that this form of libertarianism leads to the endorsement of a fairly extensive set of redistributive welfare programs. Specifically, the paper argues that Lockean right-libertarians are committed to endorsing welfare programs under which the r…Read more
  •  868
    Confining Pogge’s Analysis of Global Poverty to Genuinely Negative Duties
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (2): 369-391. 2013.
    Thomas Pogge has argued that typical citizens of affluent nations participate in an unjust global order that harms the global poor. This supports his conclusion that there are widespread negative institutional duties to reform the global order. I defend Pogge’s negative duty approach, but argue that his formulation of these duties is ambiguous between two possible readings, only one of which is properly confined to genuinely negative duties. I argue that this ambiguity leads him to shift illicit…Read more
  •  142
    Plan‐based expressivism and innocent mistakes
    Ethics 119 (2): 310-335. 2009.
    In this paper I develop an objection to the version of expressivism found in Allan Gibbard’s book Thinking How to Live, and I suggest that the difficulty faced by Gibbard’s analysis is symptomatic of a problem for expressivism more generally. The central claim is that Gibbard’s expressivism is unable to account for certain normative judgments that arise in the process of evaluating cases of innocent mistakes. I begin by considering a type of innocent mistake that Gibbard’s view is able to cap…Read more