2019 The Moral Psychology of Admiration (Edited with André Grahle) Rowman and Littlefield.
By bringing the work of philosophers and psychologists together this volume is an interdisciplinary, though predominantly philosophical, exploration of an often discussed but rarely researched emotion; admiration. By exploring the moral psychology of admiration the volume examines the nature of this emotion, how it relates to other emotions such as wonder, envy and pride and what role admiration plays in our moral lives. As to the latter, a strong focus is on the potential link between admiration, emulation and the improvement of our characters, as well as of society as a whole.
2019 Emotions in Sport and Games (Edited with Nathan Wildman) Special Issue of Journal of Philosophy of Sport Vol.46 No.2
This special issue features papers from philosophers of sport and philosopher examining the role of emotions in sport and games.
2018 Sacrifice and Moral Philosophy Special Issue of International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol.26 No.3
The aim of this special issue is to foster a more explicit and direct discussion of the concept of sacrifice and its importance in moral philosophy. The papers in this volume make an important contribution to our understanding of sacrifice in three areas. The first group of papers investigates the nature of sacrifice. The next group of papers investigates the role of sacrifice in moral philosophy. Three of these papers investigate the role of sacrifice in our moral lives generally, while two investigate the role of sacrifice in relation to particular moral theories. The final two papers investigate the value of sacrifice in relation to political and theological issues.
Forth. Celebrity, Democracy, and Epistemic Power (With Amanda Cawston, Ben Matheson and Machteld Geuskens) Perspectives on Politics Penultimate Version Available here.
Abstract: : What, if anything, is problematic about the involvement of celebrities in democratic politics? While a number of theorists have criticized celebrity involvement in politics (Meyer 2002; Mills 1957; Postman 1987) none so far have examined this issue using the tools of social epistemology, the study of the effects of social interactions, practices and institutions on knowledge and belief acquisition. This paper will draw on these resources to investigate the issue of celebrity involvement in politics, specifically as this involvement relates to democratic theory and its implications for democratic practice. We will argue that an important and underexplored form of power, which we will call epistemic power, can explain one important way in which celebrity involvement in politics is problematic. This is because unchecked uses and unwarranted allocations of epistemic power, which celebrities tend to enjoy, threaten the legitimacy of existing democracies and raise important questions regarding core commitments of deliberative, epistemic, and plebiscitary models of democratic theory. We will finish by suggesting directions that democratic theorists could pursue when attempting to address some of these problems.
2019 Equal Pay for Equal Play: Moral Grounds for Equal Pay in Football (With Martine Prange) Journal of the Philosophy of Sport
Abstract: In this paper, we investigate three different ways of defending the claim that national football associations ought to pay their men’s and women’s football teams the same amount. First, we consider an argument that appeals to the principle of equal pay for equal work. We argue that this ‘labor rights’ argument provides a good reason for some national football associations to pay their men’s and women’s teams the same amount but that these are the exception rather than the rule. Next, we consider an alternative argument, which appeals to the ‘expressive power’ of paying women’s football teams the same as men’s. We argue that this argument can be applied more generally than the first argument and gives a good reason for many football associations to pay their men’s and women’s teams equally. However, this argument struggles to show that associations have a moral obligation to pay their men’s and women’s teams the same. We finish by considering the ‘argument from historical injustice’. We argue that this argument provides plausible grounds for thinking that many associations not only have moral reasons to pay their men’s and women’s teams equally, but that they also have a moral obligation and a political responsibility to do so.
2019 When Artists Fall: On Honoring and Admiring the Immoral (With Ben Matheson) Journal of the American Philosophical Association Vol.5 No.2 pp.246-265.
Abstract: Is it appropriate to honour artists who have created great works but who have also acted immorally? In this paper, after arguing that honouring involves picking out a person as someone we ought to admire, we present three moral reasons against honouring immoral artists. First, we argue that honouring can serve to condone their behaviour, through the mediums of emotional prioritization and exemplar identification. Second, we argue that honouring immoral artists can generate undue epistemic credibility for the artists, which can lead to an indirect form of testimonial injustice for the artists’ victims. Third, we argue, building on the first two reasons, that honouring immoral artists can also serve to silence their victims. We end by considering how we might respond to these reasons.
2019 Admiration and Education: What Should We Do with Immoral Intellectuals? (with Ben Matheson) Ethical Perspectives Vol.26 No.1 pp.5-32
Abstract: How should academics respond to the work of immoral intellectuals? This question appears to be one that is of increasing concern in academic circles but has received little attention in the academic literature. In this paper, we will investigate what our response to immoral intellectuals should be. We begin by outlining the cases of three intellectuals who have behaved immorally or at least have been accused of doing so. We then investigate whether it is appropriate to admire an immoral person for their intellectual contributions. We will argue that such admiration can be a fitting response to the intellectual achievements of an immoral person but only if the person has indeed done something important. However, we then identify two moral reasons against openly admiring immoral intellectuals. First, that such admiration may give the appearance of condoning the immoral acts of the intellectual. Second, that such admiration may lead to emulation of the intellectual’s problematic ideals. This may be enough to persuade us of the moral reasons to avoid engaging with the work of unimportant and easily replaceable intellectuals in our research and our teaching. However, for more important intellectual figures we have weighty educational reasons to cite them and include them in our courses. This leads to a tension, which we attempt to resolve by proposing ways to accommodate the moral reasons against admiring immoral intellectuals and the intellectual reasons to include them in our courses, though we conclude on the pessimistic note that this tension may not be entirely resolvable.
2019 More important and surprising actions of a moral exemplar trigger stronger admiration and inspiration (With Niels van de Ven and Bart Engelen) Journal of Social Psychology Vol.159 No.4 pp.383-397. (Open Access)
Abstract: Admiring a moral role model has been found to inspire people to become better persons themselves. But what are the antecedents that trigger admiration and thus make inspiration more likely? In three studies, we tested the effect of perceived importance and perceived surprisingness of the moral action on resulting admiration and inspiration. Study 1 finds that perceived importance, and to a lesser extent, the perceived surprisingness of a moral action, are related to stronger admiration. Manipulating the perceived importance of the same moral action by only providing a little more detail about the moral action, could increase the admiration and inspiration the role models elicit (Studies 2 and 3). Our findings help the understanding of how moral exemplars trigger inspiration and provide valuable insights into further investigation toward the causes of admiration.
2019 Shame and the Sports Fan (With Ben Matheson) Journal of Philosophy of Sport Vol. 46 No.2 pp.208-223.
Abstract: Sports fans sometimes feel shame for their team’s moral transgressions. In this paper, we investigate this phenomenon. We offer an account of sports fan shame in terms of collective shame. We argue that this account is superior to accounts of sports fan shame in terms of shame for others and shame for oneself. We then argue that accepting the role that sports stars play in bringing about the collective shame amongst their fans provides a new way of justifying the claim that sport stars are subject to special moral obligations.
2019 Lord Jim: How Moral Exemplars Can Ruin Your Life (With Alan Thomas and Bart Engelen) In Alfred Archer and Andre Grahle (Eds.) The Moral Psychology of Admiration Lanham MA: Rowman and Littlefield).
Abstract: What role should admiration for moral exemplars play in the moral development of those with more ordinary levels of moral virtue? Linda Zagzebski (2017) has argued that exemplars should serve as models for emulation. We agree that exemplars have an important role to play in moral education (See Engelen et al Forthcoming). However, our aim in this paper will be to sound a warning about the ways in which attempting to emulate exemplars can go badly wrong. While in some circumstances, attempting to imitate a moral exemplar can improve one’s behavior, in other circumstances it can constitute a distinctive form of moral error. We will illustrate this with the example of the eponymous hero of Joseph Conrad’s novel Lord Jim, whose attempts to emulate his heroes lead to disaster. The case of Jim reveals how emulating heroes can ruin a person’s life. Imagining oneself in the exemplary role of a hero may undermine one’s ability to respond appropriately to ethical challenges. It leads Jim not only to ruin his life, but also to embrace his unnecessary death
2019 Playing with Art in Suits' Utopia (With Nathan Wildman) Sport, Ethics and Philosophy Vol.13 No.3-4 pp.456-470. Penultimate Version Available here
Abstract: According to Bernard Suits, people in utopia would spend their time playing games and would not spend any time creating or engaging with artworks. Here, we argue against this claim. We do so by arguing that some games essentially involve aesthetic engagement with artworks. One type of game that seems to do so is dual-natured games, works that are both games and artworks. If utopians were to play such games, then they would be engaging with artworks. However, Rough (2017a) has recently called into question the possibility of dual-natured games. With that in mind, we also offer a second kind of game that serves as a counter-example to Suits: art-inclusive games, which involve aesthetic and artistic engagement as part of their playing. After providing some examples of this kind of game, we show that the possibility of such games presents a problem for Suits’ claim that utopians would not engage with artworks. If utopians were to play them, then they would be engaging with artworks. And as there is no good reason to think that utopians would not play such games, we conclude that Suits’ claim about the lack of engagement with art in utopia should be rejected.
2019 Admiration and Motivation Emotion Review Vol. 11 No. 2 pp.140-150 (Open Access)
Abstract: What is the motivational profile of admiration? In this paper I will investigate what form of connection between admiration and motivation there may be good reason to accept. A number of philosophers have advocated a connection between admiration and motivation to emulate. I will start by examining this view. I will present three problems for this view. Before suggesting an expanded account of the connection between admiration and motivation according to which admiration involves motivation to promote the value that is judged to be present in the object of admiration. Finally I will examine the implications of this account for the use of admiration in education.
2019 Effective Vote Markets and the Tyranny of Wealth (With Bart Engelen and Viktor Ivanković) Res Publica Vol. 25 No. 1 pp.39-54 (Open Access)
Abstract: What limits should there be on the areas of life that are governed by market forces? For many years, no one seriously defended the buying and selling votes for political elections. In recent years, however, this situation has changed, with a number of authors defending the permissibility of vote markets (e.g. Freiman 2014). One popular objection to such markets is that they would lead to a tyranny of wealth, where the poor are politically dominated by the rich. In a recent paper, James Stacey Taylor (forthcoming a) has argued that this objection can be avoided if certain restrictions are placed on vote markets. In this paper we will argue that this attempt to rebut an argument against vote markets is unsuccessful. Either vote markets secure their purported benefits but then they inevitably lead to a tyranny of wealth, or they are restricted so heavily that they lack the features that have been claimed to make vote markets attractive in the first place. Using Taylor’s proposal as a test case, we make the more general claim that vote markets cannot avoid the tyranny of wealth objection and bring about their supposed benefits at the same time.
2018 Are We Obliged to Enhance for Moral Perfection? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy Vol.43 No.5 pp.490-505
Abstract: Suppose we could take a pill that would turn us into morally perfect people. Would we have a duty to take such a pill? In recent years a number of philosophers have investigated this issue. Most prominently, Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu (2012) have argued that we would have a duty to take such a pill. In this paper I wish to investigate the possible limits of a duty to take moral enhancement drugs through investigating the related question of whether it would be desirable to create a world populated entirely with morally perfect people. I will argue, drawing on the work of Bernard Williams (1981), Susan Wolf (1982) and Michael Slote (1983) that we have reason to be grateful that we do not live a world in which everyone is morally perfect, as this would prevent people from dedicating their lives to valuable non-moral projects. I will then argue that this thought should serve as a limitation on attempts to morally improve people through the use of technology. Finally, I will explore the implications of this discussion for some of the less ambitious forms of moral enhancement currently being explored in the literature. I will argue that these forms of enhancement give us no reason to worry about preventing valuable non-moral ways of life. In fact, by acting as a shortcut to moral development, they might serve as an aid to help people fulfill valuable non-moral goals in a way that is morally permissible.
2018 Beyond the Call of Beauty: Everyday Aesthetic Demands Under Patriarchy (With Lauren Ware) The Monist Vol. 101 No.1 pp.114-127. Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: A recognisable feature of our lives is that we make aesthetic demands of each other: we demand that people meet certain aesthetic standards and hold them accountable when they do not. These aesthetic demands are particularly prevalent in the realm of everyday aesthetics. We demand that people dress according to certain standards for certain jobs or social occasions. We demand that those we live with keep our homes in line with certain aesthetic standards (though as many couples and flatmates will recognise, these standards vary greatly). We demand that people refrain from playing certain music on certain occasions—like polka at a funeral. It is surprising then, that up to now the literature on aesthetic requirements has had little to say about the realm of everyday aesthetics. This paper will defend two claims. First, we will argue for the existence of aesthetic demands in the realm of everyday aesthetics and that these demands are not reducible to moral demands. Second, we will argue that we must recognise the limits of these demands in order to combat a prevalent and important form of gendered oppression. A defence of aesthetic supererogation offers a new structural framework to this debate.
Featured in Oxford University Press’ Best Philosophy of 2018 List https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/best_of_philosophy?fbclid=IwAR2IMhXcX4qHLevg6ntgx5WUeRpoOgqC-9IyH9oJTUipT531nbGH4MsBRZs
2018 The Problem with Moralism Ratio Vol.31 No.3 pp.342-350. (Open Access)
Abstract: Moralism is often described as a vice. But what exactly is wrong with moralism that makes it aptly described as a character flaw? This paper will argue that the problem with moralism is that it downgrades the force of legitimate moral criticism. The first section will argue that moralism involves an inflated sense of the extent to which moral criticism is appropriate. The second section will examine the value of legitimate moral criticism, arguing that its value stems from enabling us to take a stand against immoral behavior. The third section will argue that unwarranted moral criticism downgrades the force of legitimate moral criticism and that this is why moralism should be seen as a vice.
2018 Rehabilitating Self-Sacrifice: Care Ethics and the Politics of Resistance (With Amanda Cawston) International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol.26 No.3 pp.456-477. (Open Access)
Abstract: How should feminists view acts of self-sacrifice performed by women? According to a long-standing critique of care ethics such acts ought to be viewed with scepticism. Care ethics, it is claimed, celebrates acts of self-sacrifice on the part of carers and in doing so encourages women to choose caring for others over their own self-development. In doing so, care ethics frustrates attempts to liberate women from the oppression of patriarchy. Care ethicists have responded to this critique by noting limits on the level, form, or scope of self-sacrifice that work to restrict its role in their theories. While we do not here take issue with the initial feminist critiques of self-sacrifice, we suspect that the strategies offered by Care ethicists in response are importantly flawed. Specifically, these responses undervalue the positive roles that self-sacrifice can play in fighting patriarchal oppression. As a result, in attempting to restrict an oppressive norm, these responses risk foreclosing on valuable means of resistance. Our aim is to explore these positive roles for self-sacrifice and thereby rehabilitate its standing with feminists.
2018 Supererogation Philosophy Compass Vol.13 No. 3 Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: It is a recognisable feature of commonsense morality that some actions are beyond the call of duty or supererogatory. Acts of supererogation raise a number of interesting philosophical questions and debates. This article will provide an overview of three of these debates. First, I will provide an overview of the debate about whether or not acts of supererogation exist. Next, I will investigate the issue of how to define the supererogatory. I will finish by examining a problem known as the Paradox of Supererogation.
2018 Exemplars and Nudges: Combining Two Strategies for Moral Education (Co-Authored with Bart Engelen, Alan Thomas and Niels van de Ven) Journal of Moral Education (Open Access) Vol. 47 No.3 pp.346-365.
Abstract: This paper defends the use of narratives about morally exemplary individuals in moral education and appraises the role that ‘nudge’ strategies can play in combination with such an appeal to exemplars. It presents a general conception of the aims of moral education and explains how the proposed combination of both moral strategies serves these aims. An important aim of moral education is to make the ethical perspective of the subject – the person being educated – more structured, more salient and therefore more ‘navigable’. This paper argues why and how moral exemplars and nudge strategies are crucial aids in this respect. It gives an empirically grounded account of how the emotion of admiration can be triggered most effectively by a thoughtful presentation of narratives about moral exemplars. It also answers possible objections and concludes that a combined appeal to exemplars and nudges provides a neglected but valuable resource for moral education.
2018 The Moral Value of Compassion in Justin Caouette and Carolyn Price (Eds.) The Moral Psychology of Compassion (Rowman and Littlefield) Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: Many people think that compassion has an important role to play in our moral lives. We might even think, as Arthur Schopenhauer (2010 ) did, that compassion is the basis of morality. More modestly, we might think that compassion is one important source of moral motivation and would play an important role in the life of a virtuous person. Recently, however philosophers such as Roger Crisp (2008), and Jesse Prinz (2011) and psychologists such as Paul Bloom (2016) have called into question the value of sharing in another’s suffering. All three argue that this should not play a significant role in the life of the morally virtuous person. In its place, Crisp endorses rational benevolence as the central form of moral motivation for virtuous people. I will argue that despite the problems facing compassion, it has a distinctive role to play in moral life that cannot be fully captured by rational benevolence. My discussion will proceed as follows. In §1, I examine the nature of compassion and explain how I will be using the term in this paper. I will then, in §2, explain the traditional account of the value of compassion as a source of moral motivation. In §3, I will investigate a number of challenges to the value of compassionate moral motivation. I will then, in §4, explain why, despite facing important problems, compassion has a distinctive role to play in moral life.
2017 In Defence of Biodiversity (With Joanna Burch-Brown) Biology and Philosophy Vol. 32 no. 6 pp. 969-997 (Open Access)
Abstract: Biodiversity has played a central role within conservation biology over the last thirty years. How the concept should be understood, however, is a matter of ongoing debate. In this paper, we defend what we call a classic multidimensional conception of biodiversity. We begin by introducing two arguments against the importance of biodiversity, both of which have been put forward in a recent paper by Carlos Santana (2014). The first argument is against the scientific usefulness of the concept of biodiversity; and the other is against its value as a target of conservation. Neither of these objections is successful against the classic multidimensional conception of biodiversity. As we show, the umbrella concept of biological diversity is important from a scientific perspective, because it plays important explanatory roles within contemporary ecology. Moreover we argue that although biodiversity as we understand it does not capture all valuable features of the natural world, this does not show that we should abandon it as a target of conservation. Instead, it might show that biodiversity should be conceived as just one of many grounds of value associated with ecosystems. This is consistent with concluding that protecting biodiversity should remain a central target of conservation efforts.
2017 Sporting Supererogation and Why it Matters Journal of the Philosophy of Sport Vol.44 No.3 pp.359-373 Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: A commonly accepted feature of commonsense morality is that there are some acts that are supererogatory or beyond the call of duty. Recently, philosophers have begun to ask whether something like supererogation might exist in other normative domains such as epistemology and aesthetics. In this paper I will argue that there is good reason to think that sporting supererogation exists. I will then argue that recognizing the existence of sporting supererogation is important because it highlights the value of sport as a mutual pursuit of excellence and reinforces the value of sportsmanship.
2017 Aesthetic Judgements and Motivation Inquiry Vol.60 No.6 pp.656-674 Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: There have been a number of attempts in recent years to evaluate the plausibility of a non-cognitivist theory of aesthetic judgements. These attempts borrow heavily from Non-cognitivism in metaethics. One argument that is used to support metaethical Non-cognitivism is the argument from Motivational Judgement Internalism. It is claimed that accepting this view, together with a plausible theory of motivation, pushes us towards accepting Non-cognitivism. A tempting option, then, for those wishing to defend Aesthetic Non-cognitivism, would be to appeal to a similar argument. However, both Caj Strandberg and Walter Sinnott-Armstong have argued that Internalism is a less plausible claim to make about aesthetic judgements than about moral judgements by raising objections against Aesthetic Internalism. In this paper I will argue that both of these objections can be raised against Internalism about moral judgements as well. As a result, Internalism is no less plausible a claim to make about aesthetic judgements than about moral judgements. I will then show how a theory of Internalism about normative judgements in general is capable of avoiding both of these objections.
2017 Integrity and the Value of an Integrated Self Journal of Value Inquiry Vol.51 No.3 pp.435-454 (Open Access)
Abstract: What is integrity and why is it valuable? One account of the nature of integrity, proposed by John Cottingham (2010) amongst others, is The Integrated Self View. On this account integrity is a formal relation of coherence between various aspects of a person. One problem that has been raised against this account is that it isn’t obvious that it can account for the value of integrity. In this paper I will respond to this problem by providing an account of the value of an integrated self. I will do so by first looking closely at two examples from literature: John Sassal in John Berger’s A Fortunate Man and Tetrius Lydgate in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Based on my comparison of these two case studies I will argue that an integrated self is valuable as it makes people more likely to act in line with their moral judgements.
2017 Forgiveness and the Limits of Duty Etica & Politica / Ethics and Politics Vol. 19 No.1 pp.225-244 (Open Access).
Abstract: Can there be a duty to forgive those who have wronged us? According to a popular view amongst philosophers working on forgiveness the answer is no. Forgiveness, it is claimed, is always elective. This view is rejected by Gamlund (2010a; 2010b) who argues that duties to forgive do exist and then provides conditions that are relevant to determining whether forgiveness is obligatory or supererogatory. In this paper I will argue that the conditions that Gamlund provides do not provide a plausible account of the connection between forgiveness and duty. The problems I will raise against Gamlund’s view is a problem that faces any moral view that makes room for supererogation. I will then investigate whether the existing solutions to this problem provide a more plausible account of the connection between forgiveness and obligation. I will argue that the two most prominent solutions, The Favouring Reasons View and The Sacrifice View, produce implausible results when applied to the case of forgiveness. However, an alternative view, The Freedom View, can provide plausible results when applied to the case of forgiveness. This gives us defeasible reason to favour this as a general solution to The Problem of the Good Ought Tie-Up.
2017 Aesthetic Supererogation (With Lauren Ware) Estetika Vol. 54 pp. 102-116. Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: Many aestheticians and ethicists are interested in the similarities and connections between aesthetics and ethics (Nussbaum 1990; Foot 2002; Gaut 2007). One way in which some have suggested the two domains are different is that in ethics there exist obligations while in aesthetics there do not (Hampshire 1954). However, Marcia Muelder Eaton has argued that there is good reason to think that aesthetic obligations do exist (Eaton 2008). We will explore the nature of these obligations by asking whether acts of aesthetic supererogation (acts that go beyond the call of our aesthetic obligations) are possible. In this paper, we defend the thesis that there is good reason to think such acts exist.
2016 De Dicto Moral Desires and the Moral Sentiments: Adam Smith on The Role of De Dicto Moral Desires in the Virtuous Agent History of Philosophy Quarterly Vol. 33 No. 4 pp. 327-345.
Abstract: What role should a motivation to do the right thing, read de dicto, play in the life of a virtuous agent? According to a prominent argument from Michael Smith, those who are only motivated by such a desire are moral fetishists. Since Smith’s argument, a number of philosophers have examined what role this desire would play in the life of the morally virtuous agent. My primary aim in this paper is an historical one. I will show that much of this discussion can be found in Adam Smith’s The Theory of the Moral Sentiments (1764), published over two hundred years before Michael Smith’s The Moral Problem. I will then argue that there is an important insight to be found in Adam Smith’s book that is missing from the contemporary discussion. According to Adam Smith, while a de dicto desire to do the right thing can play an important role in the life of a virtuous agent, the person who is only ever motivated by this desire will often be epistemically disadvantaged compared to the person who possesses the appropriate sentiments. I will argue that Adam Smith’s claim is plausible given his own view of the moral sentiments as providing the foundation of morality. In addition, there is good reason to accept Smith’s claim even for those who do not accept his view of the foundational role of the moral sentiments.
2016 Moral Obligation, Self-Interest and the Transitivity Problem Utilitas Vol 28 No. 4 pp.441-464 Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: Is the relation ‘is a morally permissible alternative to’ transitive? The answer seems to be a straightforward yes. If Act B is a morally permissible alternative to Act A and Act C is a morally permissible alternative to B then how could C fail to be a morally permissible alternative to A? However, as both Dale Dorsey and Frances Kamm point out, there are cases where this transitivity appears problematic. My aim in this paper is to provide a solution to this problem. I will then investigate Kamm’s justification for rejecting the transitivity of the ‘is a permissible alternative to’ relation. Next, I will look at Dorsey’s solution, which involves a reinterpretation of the intuitions used to generate the problem. I will argue that neither of these solutions are fully satisfying before going on to provide my own solution to the problem and arguing that it avoids these problems.
2016 Supererogation, Sacrifice and the Limits of Duty Southern Journal of Philosophy Vol. 54 No. 3 pp.333-354 Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: It is often claimed that all acts of supererogation involve sacrifice. This claim is made because it is thought that it is the level of sacrifice involved that prevents these acts from being morally required. In this paper, I will argue against this claim. I will start by making a distinction between two ways of understanding the claim that all acts of supererogation involve sacrifice. I will then examine some purported counter-examples to the view that supererogation always involves sacrifice and examine their limitation. Next, I will examine how this view might be defended, building on comments by Dale Dorsey and Henry Sidgwick. I will then argue that the view and the argument in favour of it should be rejected. I will finish by showing how an alternative explanation for the limits of moral obligation avoids the problems facing The Sacrifice View.
2016 Moral Enhancement and Those Left Behind Bioethics Vol. 30 No. 7 pp.500-510. Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: Opponents to genetic or biomedical human enhancement often claim that the availability of these technologies would have negative consequences for those who either choose not to utilize these resources or lack access to them. However, Thomas Douglas has argued that this objection has no force against the use of technologies that aim to bring about morally desirable character traits, as the unenhanced would benefit from being surrounded by such people. I will argue that things are not as straightforward as Douglas makes out. The widespread use of moral enhancement would raise the standards for praise and blame worthiness, making it much harder for the unenhanced to perform praiseworthy actions or avoid performing blameworthy actions. This shows that supporters of moral enhancement cannot avoid this challenge in the way that Douglas suggests.
2016 Motivational Judgement Internalism and the Problem of Supererogation Journal of Philosophical Research Vol. 41 pp. 601-621. Penultimate draft available here
Abstract: Motivational judgment internalists hold that there is a necessary connection between moral judgments and motivation. There is, though, an important lack of clarity in the literature about the types of moral evaluation the theory is supposed to cover. It is rarely made clear whether the theory is intended to cover all moral judgements or whether the claim covers only a subset of such judgements. In this paper I will investigate which moral judgements internalists should hold their theory to apply to. I will argue that the possibility of the supererogation amoralist, someone who makes genuine supererogation judgements but remains unmotivated by them, makes it implausible to be an internalist about moral goodness. As a result, internalists should restrict their claim to moral requirement judgements. I will then argue that this creates an explanatory burden for Internalism. In order for their view to be plausible they must explain why some moral judgements and not others are necessarily connected to motivation.
2016 Are Acts of Supererogation Always Praiseworthy? Theoria Vol. 82 No. 3 pp. 238-255 Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: It is commonly assumed that praiseworthiness should form part of the analysis of supererogation. I will argue that this view should be rejected. I will start by arguing that, at least on some views of the connection between moral value and praiseworthiness, it does not follow from the fact that acts of supererogation go beyond what is required by duty that they will always be praiseworthy to perform. I will then consider and dismiss what I will call ‘The Argument From Stipulation’ in favour of holding that acts of supererogation are always praiseworthy. Next, I will examine what I will call ‘The Necessary Connection Argument’, which posits a necessary connection between supererogation and praiseworthiness. I will argue that the intuitions used to motivate this argument are best explained by a debunking explanation.
2016 The Supererogatory and How Not To Accommodate It Utilitas Vol. 28 No. 2 pp. 179-188 Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: It is plausible to think that there exist acts of supererogation (acts that are morally optional and morally better than the minimum that morality demands). It also seems plausible that there is a close connection between what we are morally required to do and what it would be morally good to do. Despite being independently plausible these two claims are hard to reconcile. My aim in this paper will be to respond to a recent solution to this puzzle proposed by Dale Dorsey (2013). Dorsey’s solution to this problem is to posit a new account of supererogation. I will argue that Dorsey’s account fails to succeed in achieving what an account of supererogation is supposed to achieve.
2016 Evil and Moral Detachment: Further Reflections on The Mirror Thesis International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol 24 No.2 pp.201-218. Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: A commonly accepted claim by philosophers investigating the nature of evil is that the evil person is, in some way, the mirror image of the moral saint. In this paper I will defend a new version of this thesis. I will argue that both the moral saint and the morally evil person are characterised by a lack of conflict between moral and non-moral concerns. However, while the saint achieves this unity through a reconciliation of the two, the evil person does so by eliminating moral concerns from her character.
2016 On Sporting Integrity Sport, Ethics and Philosophy Vol. 10 No. 2 pp.117-131. Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: It has become increasingly popular for sports fans, pundits, coaches and players to appeal to ideas of ‘sporting integrity’ when voicing their approval or disapproval of some aspect of the sporting world. My goal in this paper will be to examine whether there is any way to understand this idea in a way that both makes sense of the way in which it is used and presents a distinctly ‘sporting’ form of integrity. I will look at three recent high profile sporting incidents that caused sporting integrity to be called into question. I will then examine three different ways in which philosophers have sought to understand integrity and examine whether any of these accounts can provide us with a plausible account of sporting integrity. I will argue that such an account can be given and show how this helps us to understand the three cases.
2016 Divine Moral Goodness, Supererogation and The Euthyphro Dilemma International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Vol. 79 No. 2 pp. 147-160. Penultimate draft available here.
Abstract: How can we make sense of God’s moral goodness if God cannot be subject to moral obligations? This question is troubling for Divine Command Theorists, as if we cannot make sense of God’s moral goodness then it seems hard to see how God’s commands could be morally good. William P. Alston (1989) argues that the concept of supererogation solves this problem. If we accept the existence of acts that are morally good but not morally required then we should accept that there is no need for an act to fulfill a moral obligation in order for it to be morally good (1989 p.261). This view has been criticized by both Eleonore Stump (1992) and Josef Lombardi (2005), who
claim that it is impossible for an agent who has no obligations to perform acts of supererogation. Elizabeth Drummond Young (2013) attempts to defend Alston’s solution by offering a new analysis of supererogation. In this paper I will argue first
that Young fails to provide an adequate response to Lombardi’s objection. I will then provide my own defence of Alston’s proposal.
2016 Community, Pluralism and Individualistic Pursuits: A Defence of Why Not Socialism? Social Theory and Practice. Vol. 42 Issue 1 pp. 57-73. Penultimate draft available here
Abstract: Is socialism morally preferable to free market capitalism? G. A. Cohen (2009) has argued that even when the economic inequalities produced by free markets are not the result of injustice, they nevertheless ought to be avoided because they are community undermining. As free markets inevitably lead to economic inequalities and Socialism does not, Socialism is morally preferable. This argument has been the subject of recent criticism. Chad Van Schoelandt (2014) argues that it depends on a conception of community that is incompatible with pluralism while Richard Miller (2010) argues that it rules out individualistic pursuits. I will show that both of these objections rest upon a misreading of Cohen’s argument.
2016 Do We Need to Make Room For Quasi-Supererogation Journal of Value Inquiry Vol 50 No. 2 pp.341-351. (Open Access)
Abstract: It is commonly held that in addition to the deontic categories of The Forbidden, The Indifferent and The Obligatory we must also make room for The Supererogatory. Some philosophers argue that we must go further and make room for an additional category of Offence or Suberogation. Gregory Mellema has argued that even this does not go far enough and we must also make room for the categories of Quasi-Supererogation and Quasi-Offence. According to Mellema, in the absence of these categories we will be unable to accommodate the possibility of optional acts that are praiseworthy to perform and blameworthy to omit. In this paper I will argue that Mellema’s defence of this claim is unsuccessful. What his arguments instead show is that it can sometimes be blameworthy to omit an act of supererogation and praiseworthy to omit an offence.
2015 Saints, Heroes and Moral Necessity Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplementary Volume. Penultimate draft Available here.
Many people who perform paradigmatic examples of acts of supererogation claim that they could not have done otherwise. In this paper I will argue that these self-reports from moral exemplars present a challenge to the traditional view of supererogation as involving agential sacrifice. I will argue that the claims made by moral exemplars are plausibly understood as what Bernard Williams calls a ‘practical necessity’. I will then argue that this makes it implausible to view these acts as involving agential sacrifice.
2015 The Heroism Paradox: Another Paradox of Supererogation (Co-Authored with Mike Ridge) Philosophical Studies
Abstract: Philosophers are by now familiar with “the” paradox of supererogation. This paradox arises out of the idea that it can never be permissible to do something morally inferior to another available option, yet acts of supererogation seem to presuppose this. This paradox is not our topic in this paper. We mention it only to set it to one side and explain our subtitle. In this paper we introduce and explore another paradox of supererogation, one which also deserves serious philosophical attention. People who perform paradigmatic acts of supererogation very often claim and believe that their acts were obligatory. Plausibly, this is simply a mistake insofar as the actions really are “above and beyond the call of duty,” as common sense would have it. The fact that moral heroes tend to view their actions in this apparently mistaken way is puzzling in itself, and we might learn something interesting about the moral psychology of such individuals if we could explain this tendency. However, this puzzling aspect of the moral psychology of moral heroes is also the chief ingredient in a deeper puzzle, one perhaps more worthy of the title “paradox.” In this paper we present and try to resolve this paradox. The paradox arises when we combine our initial observation about the moral psychology of moral heroes with three plausible claims about how these cases compare with one in which the agent realizes her act is “above and beyond.” The first of these three additional claims is that the agent who mistakenly claims that the act is obligatory is no less virtuous than someone who performs such an act whilst correctly judging it to be obligatory. The second is that the agent who makes such a mistake would display more moral wisdom if she judged the act to be supererogatory. The third is that there is no other relevant difference between the two agents. These three claims, together with a plausible principle about the way in which the virtues work, give rise to a paradox. We consider several ways in which this paradox might be resolved. We argue that the most plausible resolution is to reject the claim that there is no other relevant difference between the two agents. More specifically, we argue that a relevant difference is that the agent who makes this mistake does so because of the depth of their commitment to certain moral values, and that this is itself an important moral virtue: moral depth.
2014 Against Vote Markets (Co-Authored with Alan T. Wilson) Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (August 2014) (Open Access)
Abstract: According to a recent paper by Christopher Freiman (Forthcoming) the prohibition on the buying and selling of votes ought to be lifted. We will argue that Freiman’s defence of that position is unsuccessful. Freiman presents defeasible reasons in favour of the legalization of vote markets (pp. 2-8). He then considers two arguments – the Equality Argument and the Republican Argument – which, if either were correct, would undermine those defeasible reasons. By rejecting these arguments, Freiman takes himself to have shown that the reasons in favour of vote markets remain undefeated, and so the case for vote markets is stronger than has been assumed. We will focus on Freiman’s response to the Equality Argument, showing that this response is flawed and that, therefore, Freiman’s defence of vote markets is not successful.
2014 Forcing Cohen to Abandon Forced Supererogation Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (March 2014). (Open Access)
Abstract: The possibility of acts of supererogation, those that are beyond the call of duty, creates problems for those committed to a tripartite division of the deontic landscape into the obligatory, the forbidden and the neutral. For some, Gregory Mellema for example, expanding our deontic system to include the supererogatory does not go far enough and we must also make room for acts of ‘quasi-supererogation’. Shlomo Cohen has argued that even this is not enough, as we must also make room for acts of ‘Forced Supererogation’. In this reply I will show that Cohen’s defence of this thesis is unsuccessful.
2014 Moral Rationalism Without Overridingness Ratio (Vol. 27 No.1 pp.100-114) Penultimate draft available here
Abstract: Moral Rationalism is the view that if an act is morally required then it is what there is most reason to do. It is often assumed that the truth of Moral Rationalism is dependent on some version of The Overridingness Thesis, the view that moral reasons override nonmoral reasons. However, as Douglas Portmore has pointed out, the two can come apart; we can accept Moral Rationalism without accepting any version of The Overridingness Thesis. Nevertheless, The Overridingness Thesis serves as one of two possibleexplanations for Moral Rationalism. In this paper I will investigate which of these two explanations a moral rationalist should accept. I will argue that when we properly attend to the form of Moral Rationalism supported by the intuitions that motivate the view, we are left with no reason to accept The Overridingness Thesis.
2013 Supererogation and Intentions of the Agent Philosophia (Vol. 41 No. 2 pp.447-462). Penultimate draft available here
Abstract: It has been claimed, by David Heyd, that in order for an act to count as supererogatory the agent performing the act must possess altruistic intentions (1982 p.115). This requirement, Heyd claims, allows us to make sense of the meritorious nature of acts of supererogation. In this paper I will investigate whether there is good reason to accept that this requirement is a necessary condition of supererogation. I will argue that such a reason can be found in cases where two people act in the same way but with only the person who acted with altruistic intent counting as having performed an act of supererogation. In such cases Heyd’s intention requirement plays an important role in ruling out acts that intuitively are not supererogatory. Despite this, I will argue that we should reject Heyd’s requirement and replace it with a moral intention requirement. I will then investigate how to formulate this requirement and respond to two objections that might be raised against it.
2013 Aesthetic Judgements and Motivation Proceedings of The European Society of Aesthetics 2013
2012 A Further Advantage of Ecumenical Expressivism Philosophical Writings Special Issue: Proceedings of The 2011 British Postgraduate Philosophy Conference
2018 Self-Sacrifice and Moral Philosophy (With Marcel van Ackeren) International Journal of Philosophical Studies.
2018 Review of Macalester Bell Hard Feelings: The Moral Psychology of Contempt In Philosophical Quarterly Vol.68 Issue 271 pp.395-397. Penultimate Draft available here.
2018 Review of Linda Zagzebski Exemplarist Moral Theory In Ethics Vol.128 (3) pp.682-686. Penultimate Draft available here.
2017 Review of M. v. Ackeren and M. Kühler (Eds.) The Limits of Moral Obligation: Moral Demandingness and Ought Implies Can In Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (6) pp. 761-764. Penultimate Draft available here.
2016 Review of Steve Bein Compassion and Moral Guidance In Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (3), pp. 795-796.
Review of Lisa Tessman Moral Failure: On The Impossible Demands of Morality In Philosophical Quarterly 66, pp. 400-402.
2014 Review of Greg Scherkoske Leading a Convincing Life: Integrity and the Virtues of Reason, In Philosophy 89, pp 495-499.
Review of Sebastian Schleidgen (Ed.) Should We Always Act Morally: Essays On Overridingness, In Ethical Theory And Moral Practice Vol. 17 No.2 pp.349-350.
2012 Review of Roger Tiechmann Nature, Reason and the Good Life, In Journal of Value Inquiry Vol. 46 (1) pp. 113-116.
Review of Tim Mulgan Ethics for a Broken World, In Philosophy Now
Review of Matthew J. Goodwin New British Fascism of the British National Party In Political Studies Review Vol. 10 (3) p. 451.