Most of my work is organized around the nature and role of moral responsibility. I'm interested to see how much can be explained with more modest resources than are typically acknowledged, while challenging widespread philosophical assumptions. In pursuit of these goals, my work explores topics in ethics, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of action, and law.
My published papers can be found below. Where they are penultimate versions, their final published counterparts should be available via PhilPapers. Additional work, including some work-in-progress, can be found on Academia.
Philosophical Studies (forthcoming)
Much has been written lately about cases in which blame of the blameworthy is nonetheless inappropriate because of facts about the blamer. Meddlesome and hypocritical cases are standard examples. In this paper, I defend a novel explanation of what goes wrong with such blame, in a way that draws the cases together. In brief, I argue that blaming is essentially an attentive activity, and that, consequently, meddlesome and hypocritical blamers are attending to the wrong things.
Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility 6 (forthcoming)
There are cases thought to illustrate that appropriate blame requires special standing. One might lack the standing to blame another because the fault is private and one is a stranger or because one is guilty of the very same offense and so one’s blame would be hypocritical. But despite its prevalence as an explanation of what goes wrong in such cases, the standing to blame itself has been given relatively little attention. The aim of this paper is to cast doubt on the standing to blame. It considers a range of plausible interpretations and, finding each wanting, concludes that those who wish to endorse the standing to blame owe us more by way of a characterization and defense. In raising this challenge, the paper motivates an alternative explanation of the cases.
Moral Responsibility and Mental Illness (w/ Josh May)
Most people tend to think that mental illness nearly always mitigates responsibility. Against this Naive view, we argue for a Nuanced account. The problem is not just that different theories of responsibility yield different verdicts about particular cases. Even when all reasonable theories agree about what's relevant to responsibility, the ways mental illness can affect behavior are so varied that a more nuanced approach is needed.
Criminal Law and Philosophy (2017)
The law often asks fact finders to determine whether a defendant was reasonable in some respect. To help them, it is common to turn to a counterfactual test that personifies the reasonable person. Basically, if the reasonable person would have done the same thing as the defendant (or believed the same thing, or had the same emotional reaction, etc.) then the defendant was reasonable. I argue that this test is a hopeless guide to answering the question of defendant reasonableness, and that this problem gives us reason to abandon personifying the reasonable person altogether.
in Responsibility: The Epistemic Condition (2017)
I extend my previous work on rejecting special explanatory mechanisms to account for responsibility done without the requisite control to cases of purported responsibility without the requisite beliefs.
Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (2015)
I examine a range of ways in which blame of another may itself ground criticism, and use those resources to reject Patrick Todd’s recent manipulation argument.
European Journal of Philosophy (2014)
‘Tracing’ is an explanatory strategy to account for cases where an agent is responsible despite lacking the (presumed) requisite control over their action (e.g., drunk-driving). Many theorists think we must appeal to tracing to explain certain kinds of cases. I argue that tracing is theoretically dispensible, offering two different strategies for accounting for the responsibility in the cases, neither of which involves tracing.
Philosophical Studies (2014)
In this paper, I make progress toward understanding why it would follow that being morally responsible for something supports a desert claim. I argue that two prominent approaches to theorizing about moral responsibility do not carry equally plausible commitments with respect to deserved praise and blame.
I argue that manipulation arguments for the incompatibility of responsibility and determinism fail as a class. Their success is predicated on a dialectically infelicitous incompatibilist assumption.
Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (2012)
I defend two claims regarding a candidate view about the relationship between responsibility and desert, which understands that desert in terms of a kind of fittingness. First, it does better than extant Fitting Attitude accounts of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness. Second, it has an initial plausibility with respect to informing a general account of desert.
Moral Responsibility and Consciousness (w/ Peter Carruthers)
Journal of Moral Philosophy (2012)
We argue that since theories of moral responsibility should operate with the weakest possible empirical assumptions about the natural world, such theories should be framed in such a way as to be free of any commitment to the existence of conscious attitudes, given the very real possibility that there might not be any.
Social Theory and Practice (2009)
I critique the common view that negligent agents are responsible for the harms they bring about. I argue that there is no plausible explanation of such responsibility that is unified with explanations of paradigmatic cases of responsibility (in which an agent brings about an explicitly intentional result).