Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America
  •  5060
    Good-for-nothings
    Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 85 (2): 47-64. 2010.
    Many academic works as well as many works of art are such that if they had never been produced, no one would be worse off. Yet it is hard to resist the judgment that some such works are good nonetheless. We are rightly grateful that these works were created; we rightly admire them, appreciate them, and take pains to preserve them. And the authors and artists who produced them have reason to be proud. This should lead us to question the view that in order for a thing to be good, in a sense wh…Read more
  •  1928
    Moral saints
    Journal of Philosophy 79 (8): 419-439. 1982.
  •  1874
    Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility
    In Ferdinand David Schoeman (ed.), Responsibility, Character, and the Emotions: New Essays in Moral Psychology, Cambridge University Press. pp. 46-62. 1987.
    My strategy is to examine a recent trend in philosophical discussions of responsibility, a trend that tries, but I think ultimately fails, to give an acceptable analysis of the conditions of responsibility. It fails due to what at first appear to be deep and irresolvable metaphysical problems. It is here that I suggest that the condition of sanity comes to the rescue. What at first appears to be an impossible requirement for responsibility---the requirement that the responsible agent have create…Read more
  •  1309
    Happiness and Meaning: Two Aspects of the Good Life
    Social Philosophy and Policy 14 (1): 207. 1997.
    The topic of self-interest raises large and intractable philosophical questions–most obviously, the question “In what does self-interest consist?” The concept, as opposed to the content of self-interest, however, seems clear enough. Self-interest is interest in one's own good. To act self-interestedly is to act on the motive of advancing one's own good. Whether what one does actually is in one's self-interest depends on whether it actually does advance, or at least, minimize the decline of, one'…Read more
  •  619
    Asymmetrical freedom
    Journal of Philosophy 77 (March): 151-66. 1980.
  •  528
    The importance of free will
    Mind 90 (February): 366-78. 1981.
  •  315
    Meaningfulness: A Third Dimension of the Good Life
    Foundations of Science 21 (2): 253-269. 2016.
    This paper argues that an adequate conception of a good life should recognize, in addition to happiness and morality, a third dimension of meaningfulness. It further proposes that we understand meaningfulness as involving both a subjective and an objective condition, suitably linked. Meaning arises when subjective attraction meets objective attractiveness. In other words one’s life is meaningful insofar as one is gripped or excited by things worthy of one’s love, and one is able to do something …Read more
  •  299
    Meaning and morality
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 97 (3). 1997.
  •  286
    The ancient Greeks subscribed to the thesis of the Unity of Virtue, according to which the possession of one virtue is closely related to the possession of all the others. Yet empirical observation seems to contradict this thesis at every turn. What could the Greeks have been thinking of? The paper offers an interpretation and a tentative defence of a qualified version of the thesis. It argues that, as the Greeks recognized, virtue essentially involves knowledge ? specifically, evaluative knowle…Read more
  •  234
    Responsibility, Moral and Otherwise
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (2): 127-142. 2015.
    Philosophers frequently distinguish between causal responsibility and moral responsibility, but that distinction is either ambiguous or confused. We can distinguish between causal responsibility and a deeper kind of responsibility, that licenses reactive attitudes and judgments that a merely causal connection would not, and we can distinguish between holding people accountable for their moral qualities and holding people accountable for their nonmoral qualities. But, because we sometimes hold pe…Read more
  •  190
    Character and Responsibility
    Journal of Philosophy 112 (7): 356-372. 2015.
    Many philosophers have been persuaded that if we don’t create our own characters, we cannot be responsible for acts that flow from our characters; they also raise doubts about whether acts that do not flow from our characters can fairly be attributed to us. Both these concerns, however, reflect a simplistic and implausible conception of character and of its relation to our actions and our selves. I suggest a different relationship between character and responsibility: We can be responsible for a…Read more
  •  137
    Morality and the view from here
    The Journal of Ethics 3 (3): 203-223. 1999.
    According to one influential conception of morality, being moral is a matter of acting from or in accordance with a moral point of view, a point of view which is arrived at by abstracting from a more natural, pre-ethical, personal point of view, and recognizing that each person''s personal point of view has equal standing. The idea that, were it not for morality, rational persons would act from their respectively personal points of view is, however, simplistic and misleading. Because our nonmora…Read more
  •  121
    In his book Welfare and Rational Care, Stephen Darwall proposes to give an account of human welfare. Or rather, he offers two accounts, a metaethical and a normative account. The two accounts, he suggests, are somewhat supportive of each other though they are logically independent
  •  110
    Meaning in Life: Meeting the Challenges
    Foundations of Science 21 (2): 279-282. 2016.
    Responding to comments by Cheshire Calhoun and Arnold Burms, this piece clarifies some of Wolf’s ideas about the relation between meaningfulness in life, on the one hand, and reasons of love, fulfillment, and objective value, on the other. Meaning tends to come from activities whose reasons are grounded in love of a worthy object, and not necessarily from reasons having anything to do with an interest in meaningfulness itself. But what counts as a worthy object cannot be determined either from a…Read more
  •  98
    Happiness and meaning: Two aspects of the good life
    Social Philosophy and Policy 14 (1): 207-225. 1997.
    The topic of self-interest raises large and intractable philosophical questions–most obviously, the question “In what does self-interest consist?” The concept, as opposed to the content of self-interest, however, seems clear enough. Self-interest is interest in one's own good. To act self-interestedly is to act on the motive of advancing one's own good. Whether what one does actually is in one's self-interest depends on whether it actually does advance, or at least, minimize the decline of, one'…Read more
  •  83
    Neurolaw: The big question
    American Journal of Bioethics 8 (1). 2008.
    This Article does not have an abstract
  •  70
    The Moral of Moral Luck
    Philosophic Exchange 31 (1). 2001.
    This essay is primarily concerned with one type of moral luck – luck in how things turn out. Do acts that actually lead to harm deserve the same treatment as similar acts that, by chance, do not lead to harm? This paper argues that we must recognize the truth in two, opposing tendencies in such cases.
  •  67
    A world of goods (review)
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (2). 2002.
    Contemporary moral philosophers often divide moral theories into three main types: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. In Finite and Infinite Goods, Robert Merrihew Adams presents an ethical framework that fits none of these categories. It is founded on a fundamental commitment to the idea that there is a Transcendent Good, to be understood philosophically in realist, non-naturalist terms. As I prefer to put it, Adams starts with a conviction that we live in a World of Goods. In dev…Read more
  •  58
    Managing Incidental Findings in Human Subjects Research: Analysis and Recommendations
    with Frances P. Lawrenz, Charles A. Nelson, Jeffrey P. Kahn, Mildred K. Cho, Ellen Wright Clayton, Joel G. Fletcher, Michael K. Georgieff, Dale Hammerschmidt, Kathy Hudson, Judy Illes, Vivek Kapur, Moira A. Keane, Barbara A. Koenig, Bonnie S. LeRoy, Elizabeth G. McFarland, Jordan Paradise, Lisa S. Parker, Sharon F. Terry, Brian Van Ness, and Benjamin S. Wilfond
    Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 36 (2): 219-248. 2008.
    No consensus yet exists on how to handle incidental fnd-ings in human subjects research. Yet empirical studies document IFs in a wide range of research studies, where IFs are fndings beyond the aims of the study that are of potential health or reproductive importance to the individual research participant. This paper reports recommendations of a two-year project group funded by NIH to study how to manage IFs in genetic and genomic research, as well as imaging research. We conclude that researche…Read more
  •  45
    Feminism & Bioethics: Beyond Reproduction (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 1996.
    Bioethics has paid surprisingly little attention to the special problems faced by women and to feminist analyses of current health care issues other than ...
  •  45
    Gene Therapy Oversight: Lessons for Nanobiotechnology
    with Rishi Gupta and Peter Kohlhepp
    Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 37 (4): 659-684. 2009.
    Oversight of human gene transfer research presents an important model with potential application to oversight of nanobiology research on human participants. Gene therapy oversight adds centralized federal review at the National Institutes of Health's Office of Biotechnology Activities and its Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee to standard oversight of human subjects research at the researcher's institution and at the federal level by the Office for Human Research Protections. The Food and Drug A…Read more
  •  44
    The Challenge of Informed Consent and Return of Results in Translational Genomics: Empirical Analysis and Recommendations
    with Gail E. Henderson, Kristine J. Kuczynski, Steven Joffe, Richard R. Sharp, D. Williams Parsons, Bartha M. Knoppers, Joon-Ho Yu, and Paul S. Appelbaum
    Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 42 (3): 344-355. 2014.
    Large-scale sequencing tests, including whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing, are rapidly moving into clinical use. Sequencing is already being used clinically to identify therapeutic opportunities for cancer patients who have run out of conventional treatment options, to help diagnose children with puzzling neurodevelopmental conditions, and to clarify appropriate drug choices and dosing in individuals. To evaluate and support clinical applications of these technologies, the National Human G…Read more
  •  40
    Ethical Challenges Arising in the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Overview from the Association of Bioethics Program Directors (ABPD) Task Force
    with Amy L. McGuire, Mark P. Aulisio, F. Daniel Davis, Cheryl Erwin, Thomas D. Harter, Reshma Jagsi, Robert Klitzman, Robert Macauley, Eric Racine, Matthew Wynia, and Paul Root Wolpe
    American Journal of Bioethics 20 (7): 15-27. 2020.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has raised a host of ethical challenges, but key among these has been the possibility that health care systems might need to ration scarce critical care resources. Rationing p...