•  296
    We might be afraid of black-box algorithms
    with Carissa Veliz, Milo Phillips-Brown, and Carina Prunkl
    Journal of Medical Ethics 47 (5): 339-40. 2021.
    Fears of black-box algorithms are multiplying. Black-box algorithms are said to prevent accountability, make it harder to detect bias and so on. Some fears concern the epistemology of black-box algorithms in medicine and the ethical implications of that epistemology. In ‘Who is afraid of black box algorithms? On the epistemological and ethical basis of trust in medical AI,’ Juan Durán and Karin Jongsma seek to allay such fears. While we find some of their arguments compelling, we still see reaso…Read more
  •  120
    Being Good in a World of Uncertainty: A Reply to Temkin
    Journal of Practical Ethics 7 (1): 33-39. 2019.
    This reply affirms Temkin’s critical perspective on effective altruism but seeks to draw out its constructive implications. It first encourages Temkin to defend the practical urgency of global poverty in the face of doubts about aid effectiveness. It then argues for a more holistic conception of effectiveness to mitigate these doubts. It considers some alternative aid strategies that respond to this broader conception. Finally, it exhorts effective altruists to think more seriously about the ref…Read more
  •  9
    The Tyranny of Generosity
    Oxford University Press. 2022.
    The practice of philanthropy, which releases private property for public purposes, represents in many ways the best angels of our nature. But this practice's noteworthy virtues often obscure the fact that philanthropy also represents the exercise of private power. In The Tyranny of Generosity, Theodore Lechterman shows how this private power can threaten the foundations of a democratic society. The deployment of private wealth for public ends may rival the authority of communities to determine t…Read more
  •  3
    The Potestas of Practice
    History of Political Thought 2 (42): 240-251. 2021.
    Can the existence of a social practice justify practical authority? A medieval debate between hierocrats and caesaropapists may help to illuminate this question. Focusing mainly on Marsilius of Padua, with reference to John of Paris, this article suggests that caesaropapists can be read as developing a 'practice conception' of the structure and scope of ecclesiastical authority. Because it brings the conflict over authority to a new battleground, the practice conception supplies caesaropapists w…Read more
  •  2
    The Effective Altruist's Political Problem
    Polity 1 (52): 88-115. 2020.
    Critics of private charity often claim that the well-off should instead assist the disadvantaged through political reform. The present article explores this idea with reference to effective altruism, a powerful new paradigm in the ethics of philanthropy. Effective altruism presses the relatively affluent not only to give generously, but also to subject their practical deliberations to rigorous evaluations of impartiality and cost-effectiveness. The article contends that the movement’s sophistica…Read more
  • Political Theory and the Nonprofit Sector
    with Rob Reich
    In The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook, . pp. 171-91. 2020.
    This chapter defends an overarching ideal of liberal democracy—government for and by the people, where each is considered free and equal—and shows how different conceptions of this ideal lead to different visions of the nonprofit sector. The argument reflects a more fundamental point: that claims about the proper shape and scope of civil society, and certainly the dimensions of nonprofit organizations, are structured by larger political ideals. We cannot understand competing visions of the nonpr…Read more
  • Combating Disinformation with AI: Epistemic and Ethical Challenges
    IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science and Technology (ETHICS) 1-6. forthcoming.
    AI-supported methods for identifying and combating disinfor-mation are progressing in their development and application. However, these methods face a litany of epistemic and ethical challenges. These include (1) robustly defining disinformation, (2) reliably classifying data according to this definition, and (3) navi-gating ethical risks in the deployment of countermeasures, which involve a mixture of harms and benefits. This paper seeks to expose and offer preliminary analysis of these challen…Read more