•  2602
    The Quantified Relationship
    with John Danaher and Brian D. Earp
    American Journal of Bioethics 18 (2): 3-19. 2018.
    The growth of self-tracking and personal surveillance has given rise to the Quantified Self movement. Members of this movement seek to enhance their personal well-being, productivity, and self-actualization through the tracking and gamification of personal data. The technologies that make this possible can also track and gamify aspects of our interpersonal, romantic relationships. Several authors have begun to challenge the ethical and normative implications of this development. In this article,…Read more
  •  1156
    The Good in Happiness
    In Tania Lombrozo, Shaun Nichols & Joshua Knobe (eds.), Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume 1, Oxford University Press. 2014.
    There has been a long history of arguments over whether happiness is anything more than a particular set of psychological states. On one side, some philosophers have argued that there is not, endorsing a descriptive view of happiness. Affective scientists have also embraced this view and are reaching a near consensus on a definition of happiness as some combination of affect and life-satisfaction. On the other side, some philosophers have maintained an evaluative view of happiness, on which bein…Read more
  •  424
    The Ethics of Accident-Algorithms for Self-Driving Cars: an Applied Trolley Problem?
    with Jilles Smids
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (5): 1275-1289. 2016.
    Self-driving cars hold out the promise of being safer than manually driven cars. Yet they cannot be a 100 % safe. Collisions are sometimes unavoidable. So self-driving cars need to be programmed for how they should respond to scenarios where collisions are highly likely or unavoidable. The accident-scenarios self-driving cars might face have recently been likened to the key examples and dilemmas associated with the trolley problem. In this article, we critically examine this tempting analogy. We…Read more
  •  172
    Anti-Meaning and Why It Matters
    with Stephen M. Campbell
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (4). 2015.
    It is widely recognized that lives and activities can be meaningful or meaningless, but few have appreciated that they can also be anti-meaningful. Anti-meaning is the polar opposite of meaning. Our purpose in this essay is to examine the nature and importance of this new and unfamiliar topic. In the first part, we sketch four theories of anti-meaning that correspond to leading theories of meaning. In the second part, we argue that anti-meaning has significance not only for our attempts to theor…Read more
  •  172
  •  168
    The development of highly humanoid sex robots is on the technological horizon. If sex robots are integrated into the legal community as “electronic persons”, the issue of sexual consent arises, which is essential for legally and morally permissible sexual relations between human persons. This paper explores whether it is conceivable, possible, and desirable that humanoid robots should be designed such that they are capable of consenting to sex. We consider reasons for giving both “no” and “yes” …Read more
  •  136
    Automation, Work and the Achievement Gap
    AI and Ethics. forthcoming.
    Rapid advances in AI-based automation have led to a number of existential and economic concerns. In particular, as automating technologies develop enhanced competency they seem to threaten the values associated with meaningful work. In this article, we focus on one such value: the value of achievement. We argue that achievement is a key part of what makes work meaningful and that advances in AI and automation give rise to a number achievement gaps in the workplace. This could limit people’s abil…Read more
  •  124
    Persson argues that common sense morality involves various “asymmetries” that don’t stand up to rational scrutiny. (One example is that intentionally harming others is commonly thought to be worse than merely allowing harm to happen, even if the harm involved is equal in both cases.) A wholly rational morality would, Persson argues, be wholly symmetrical. He also argues, however, that when we get down to our most basic attitudes and dispositions, we reach the “end of reason,” at which point we s…Read more
  •  119
    Deep Brain Stimulation, Authenticity and Value
    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 26 (4): 658-670. 2017.
    In this paper, we engage in dialogue with Jonathan Pugh, Hannah Maslen, and Julian Savulescu about how to best interpret the potential impacts of deep brain stimulation on the self. We consider whether ordinary people’s convictions about the true self should be interpreted in essentialist or existentialist ways. Like Pugh et al., we argue that it is useful to understand the notion of the true self as having both essentialist and existentialist components. We also consider two ideas from existent…Read more
  •  116
    Many ethicists writing about automated systems attribute agency to these systems. Not only that; they seemingly attribute an autonomous or independent form of agency to these machines. This leads some ethicists to worry about responsibility-gaps and retribution-gaps in cases where automated systems harm or kill human beings. In this paper, I consider what sorts of agency it makes sense to attribute to most current forms of automated systems, in particular automated cars and military robots. I ar…Read more
  •  115
    Kant's Universal Law Formula Revisited
    Metaphilosophy 46 (2): 280-299. 2015.
    Kantians are increasingly deserting the universal law formula in favor of the humanity formula. The former, they argue, is open to various decisive objections; the two are not equivalent; and it is only by appealing to the humanity formula that Kant can reliably generate substantive implications from his theory of an acceptable sort. These assessments of the universal law formula, which clash starkly with Kant's own assessment of it, are based on various widely accepted interpretative assumption…Read more
  •  94
    Automated cars meet human drivers: responsible human-robot coordination and the ethics of mixed traffic
    with Jilles Smids
    Ethics and Information Technology 22 (4): 335-344. 2020.
    In this paper, we discuss the ethics of automated driving. More specifically, we discuss responsible human-robot coordination within mixed traffic: i.e. traffic involving both automated cars and conventional human-driven cars. We do three main things. First, we explain key differences in robotic and human agency and expectation-forming mechanisms that are likely to give rise to compatibility-problems in mixed traffic, which may lead to crashes and accidents. Second, we identify three possible so…Read more
  •  85
  •  80
    Reason-based Value or Value-based Reasons?
    In Björn Haglund & Helge Malmgren (eds.), Kvantifikator För En Dag. Essays Dedicated to Dag Westerståhl on His Sixtieth Birthday, Philosophical Communications. pp. 193-202. 2006.
    In this paper, I discuss practical reasons and value, assuming a coexistence thesis according to which reasons and value always go together. I start by doing some taxonomy, distinguishing among three different ways of accounting for the relation between practical reasons and the good. I argue that, of these views, the most plausible one is that according to which something’s being good just consists in how certain facts about the thing in question – other than that of how it is good – give us re…Read more
  •  65
    Love Troubles: Human Attachment and Biomedical Enhancements
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 31 (2): 190-202. 2014.
    In fascinating recent work, Julian Savulescu and his various co-authors argue that human love is one of the things we can improve upon using biomedical enhancements. Is that so? This article first notes that Savulescu and his co-authors mainly treat love as a means to various other goods. Love, however, is widely regarded as an intrinsic good. To investigate whether enhancements can produce the distinctive intrinsic good of love, this article does three things. Drawing on Philip Pettit's recent …Read more
  •  63
    The Medicalization of Love and Narrow and Broad Conceptions of Human Well-Being
    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 24 (3): 337-346. 2015.
    Would a “medicalization” of love be a “good” or “bad” form of medicalization? In discussing this question, Earp, Sandberg, and Savulescu primarily focus on the potential positive and negative consequences of turning love into a medical issue. But it can also be asked whether there is something intrinsically regrettable about medicalizing love. It is argued here that the medicalization of love can be seen as an “evaluative category mistake”: it treats a core human value as if it were mainly a mea…Read more
  •  55
    The Ethics of Human Enhancement: Understanding the Debate has two chief aims. These aims are to help readers understand the existing debate and to move the debate forward. The book consists of an introductory chapter by Alberto Giubilini and Sagar Sanyal (which lays out some prominent bioconservative objections to enhancement), eight essays grouped under the theme of "Understanding the Debate" (Section I), and eight devoted to "Advancing the Debate" (Section II). In this review, we offer brief s…Read more
  •  51
    This book offers new readings of Kant’s “universal law” and “humanity” formulations of the categorical imperative. It shows how, on these readings, the formulas do indeed turn out being alternative statements of the same basic moral law, and in the process responds to many of the standard objections raised against Kant’s theory. Its first chapter briefly explores the ways in which Kant draws on his philosophical predecessors such as Plato (and especially Plato’s Republic) and Jean-Jacque Roussea…Read more
  •  49
    On Kant's Idea of Humanity as an End in Itself
    European Journal of Philosophy 24 (2): 358-374. 2016.
    Writers like Christine Korsgaard and Allen Wood understand Kant's idea of rational nature as an end in itself as a commitment to a substantive value. This makes it hard for them to explain the supposed equivalence between the universal law and humanity formulations of the categorical imperative, since the former does not appear to assert any substantive value. Nor is it easy for defenders of value-based readings to explain Kant's claim that the law-giving nature of practical reason makes all bei…Read more
  •  47
    Disability and the Goods of Life
    with Stephen M. Campbell and Jennifer K. Walter
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. forthcoming.
    The so-called Disability Paradox arises from the apparent tension between the popular view that disability leads to low well-being and the relatively high life-satisfaction reports of disabled people. Our aim in this essay is to make some progress toward dissolving this alleged paradox by exploring the relationship between disability and various “goods of life”—that is, components of a life that typically make a person’s life go better for her. We focus on four widely recognized goods of life (h…Read more
  •  46
    Deep Brain Stimulation, Continuity over Time, and the True Self
    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 25 (4): 647-658. 2016.
    One of the topics that often comes up in ethical discussions of deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the question of what impact DBS has, or might have, on the patient’s self. This is often understood as a question of whether DBS poses a “threat” to personal identity, which is typically understood as having to do with psychological and/or narrative continuity over time. In this article, we argue that the discussion of whether DBS is a “threat” to continuity over time is too narrow. There are other qu…Read more
  •  46
    It Loves Me, It Loves Me Not
    Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 23 (3): 402-424. 2019.
    Drawing on insights from robotics, psychology, and human-computer interaction, developers of sex robots are currently aiming to create emotional bonds of attachment and even love between human users and their products. This is done by creating robots that can exhibit a range of facial expressions, that are made with human-like artificial skin, and that possess a rich vocabulary with many conversational possibilities. In light of the human tendency to anthropomorphize artefacts, we can expect tha…Read more
  •  42
    Other Minds, Other Intelligences: The Problem of Attributing Agency to Machines
    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 28 (4): 592-598. 2019.
    John Harris discusses the problem of other minds, not as it relates to other human minds, but rather as it relates to artificial intelligences. He also discusses what might be called bilateral mind-reading: humans trying to read the minds of artificial intelligences and artificial intelligences trying to read the minds of humans. Lastly, Harris discusses whether super intelligent AI – if it could be created – should be afforded moral consideration, and also how we might convince super intelligen…Read more
  •  41
    Can a Robot Be a Good Colleague?
    with Jilles Smids
    Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (4): 2169-2188. 2020.
    This paper discusses the robotization of the workplace, and particularly the question of whether robots can be good colleagues. This might appear to be a strange question at first glance, but it is worth asking for two reasons. Firstly, some people already treat robots they work alongside as if the robots are valuable colleagues. It is worth reflecting on whether such people are making a mistake. Secondly, having good colleagues is widely regarded as a key aspect of what can make work meaningful…Read more
  •  41
    In Just Freedom, Pettit presents a powerful new statement and defense of the traditional “republican” conception of liberty or freedom. And he claims that freedom can serve as an ecumenical value with broad appeal, which we can put at the basis of a distinctively republican theory of justice. That is, Pettit argues that this “conception of freedom as non-domination allows us to see all issues of justice as issues, ultimately, of what freedom demands.” It is not, however, clear that liberty is th…Read more
  •  40
    Besser-Jones holds that well-being consists in having the experience of satisfying three innate psychological needs at the core of human nature: "relatedness," "autonomy," and "competence." Of these three, the first is the most central one, and we satisfy it by interacting with our fellows in caring and respectful ways: by "acting well." To act well, we need, Besser-Jones argues, a virtuous character: we need certain moral beliefs, and we need those to interact with our intentions in ways that r…Read more
  •  38
    Do We Always Act on Maxims?
    Kantian Review 22 (2): 233-255. 2017.
    It is commonly thought that on Kant’s view of action, ‘everyone always acts on maxims.’ Call this the ‘descriptive reading.’ This reading faces two important problems: first, the idea that people always act on maxims offends against common sense: it clashes with our ordinary ideas about human agency. Second, there are various passages in which Kant says that it is ‘rare’ and ‘admirable’ to firmly adhere to a set of basic principles that we adopt for ourselves. This article offers an alternative:…Read more
  •  35
    In a recent article, Sabine Müller, Merlin Bittlinger, and Henrik Walter launch a sweeping attack against what they call the "personal identity debate" as it relates to patients treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS). In this critique offered by Müller et al., the so-called personal identity debate is said to: (a) be metaphysical in a problematic way, (b) constitute a threat to patients, and (c) use "vague" and "contradictory" statements from patients and their families as direct evidence for…Read more
  •  33
    Reason with me: Confabulation and Interpersonal Moral Reasoning
    Ethical Perspectives 22 (2): 315-332. 2015.
    According to Haidt’s “social intuitionist model”, empirical moral psychology supports the following conclusion: intuition comes first, strategic reasoning second. Critics have responded by arguing that intuitions can depend on non-conscious reasons, that not being able to articulate one’s reasons doesn’t entail not being responsive to reasons, and that the relations between intuitions and reasoning can be truth-tracking and principled in ways overlooked by Haidt. This debate involves a false dic…Read more