(Forthcoming) Consequentialism and Reasons for Action. Douglas Portmore (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. Examines some different ways in which consequentialists might develop theories of normative reasons for action, focusing on Act Consequentialism and Rule Consequentialism and on the relationship between reasons and rightness. It notes that adding claims about reasons to consequentialist theories may introduce a welcome kind of complexity, and in doing so may help to make consequentialist approaches to ethics more appealing. For example, it may help consequentialists to explain the ideas of moral constraints and moral options.
(2017) What Good is Meaning in Life? De Ethica, 4:3, 67-79. This paper discusses a challenge for many views of the value of meaning in life. According to these views, meaning is a distinct kind of final value of lives. The challenge is to explain how meaning could be both a kind of final value and distinct from other kinds, such as well-being or virtue. The paper argues in favour of one way of responding to this challenge, which is to accept that the value of meaning in life is purely instrumental.
(2017) Three Conceptions of Group-Based Reasons. The Journal of Social Ontology, 3:1, 107-127. DOI: 10.1515/jso-2016-0006 This paper distinguishes three conceptions of group-based reasons: reasons to play one’s part in some pattern of action that the members of some group could perform, because of the good features of the pattern. According to the agency-first conception, there are no group-based reasons in cases where the relevant group is not or would not be itself an agent. According to the behaviour-first conception, what matters is that the other members of the group would play their parts in the relevant pattern, not whether they would have the cooperative intentional states constitutive of group agency in doing so. The paper argues against these conceptions and in favour of the powers-first conception, according to which what matters is that the members of the group have practically relevant powers.
(2016) Hybrid Theories. In G. Fletcher (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Well-Being (Abingdon: Routledge), 161-74. Surveys discussion of hybrid theories of well-being, and suggests some new directions. Sam Wren-Lewis interviews me about this at his excellent well-being blog.
(2013) The Common Structure of Kantianism and Act Utilitarianism. Utilitas, 25:2, 246-265. DOI: 10.1017/S0953820812000489 Claims that Kantianism, Act Utilitarianism, and other important ethical views are profitably understood as theories of pattern-based reasons, and thus as sharing a common structure. Discusses related proposals, such as the Consequentializing Idea and Michael Ridge’s Consequentialist Kantianism. Copyright Cambridge University Press. Available at Cambridge Journals Online.
(2013) Classifying Theories of Welfare. Philosophical Studies, 165: 3, 787-803. DOI: 10.1007/s11098-012-9978-4 Criticises the tripartite classification of theories of welfare (as hedonist, desire theory, or objective list theory) and suggests an alternative typology of theories. Published as Open Access.
(2011) Rationality and the Unit of Action, The Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 2: 261-277. DOI: 10.1007/s13164-011-0058-z Examines the idea of an extended unit of action, or of pattern-based reasons, as it is used in four contexts in which rationality is discussed. The final publication is available at www.springerlink.com
(2009a) Pedro’s Significance, Southern Journal of Philosophy, 47: 301-319. DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-6962.2009.tb00096.x Discusses Bernard Williams’ famous case of Jim. The paper argues that if we wish to explain Jim’s reason not to shoot we should not focus on Jim’s relationship with his own projects or commitments. Instead we should shift attention to Pedro, and on how what he could do matters for Jim’s reasons.
(2009b) What’s wrong with possibilism, Analysis 69, 2: 219-26. DOI: 10.1093/analys/anp005 Argues (1) that the debate between actualists and possibilists in deontic logic distorts what is really at issue, and (2) that reframing the debate as being about reasons strongly suggests that those with possibilist sympathies should adopt more moderate claims. Not, as some seem to have thought, a defence of actualism.
(2008) A New Argument Against Rule Consequentialism, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 11: 247-61. DOI: 10.1007/s10677-007-9083-5 Claims that compliance-based forms of Rule Consequentialism are properly understood as theories of pattern-based reasons, but that this leaves them open to a new objection, based on their implicit claims about the interaction of pattern-based and act-based reasons. The published version is available at www.springerlink.com
(2000a) Cohen and the Basic Structure Objection, Acta Politica, 35: 275-301. Argues that G.A. Cohen’s critique of the incentives argument for inequality has significance for ideal theory generally, and that it survives the basic structure objection.
(2000b) The Concept of Acquiescence, The Journal of Political Philosophy, 8: 409-432. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9760.00110 Attempts to clarify the concept of acquiescence and discuss its ethical significance. Discusses its relationship to coercion and duress.
(1998) Egalitarianism, Responsibility, and Desert, Imprints, 3: 25-48. Discusses different ways of connecting the concepts of responsibility and justice, and examines the merits of different possible interpretations of their connection in Rawls’s work.