My research statement is here. Below are some published and forthcoming academic works (I have not included book reviews). Most of the links give you the penultimate versions, but the final versions of the two published in the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy are linked since JESP is an open-access journal. Metaethics and Theoretical Ethics "The Normative Error Theorist Cannot Avoid Self-Defeat," Australasian Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming). Many philosophers have noted that normative error theorists appear to be committed to saying ‘Error theory is true, but I have no reason to believe it’, which seems paradoxical. In defense of error theory, some have claimed that the word ‘reason’ in that statement is ambiguous between ‘normative reason’ and a purely descriptive sense of ‘reason’ that the error theorist can accept. I argue, however, that there is no descriptive sense of ‘reason’ that can prevent the paradox from re-emerging. Moreover, these implications of error theory probably provide good grounds for rejecting the view.
"From Epistemic to Moral Realism," Journal of Moral Philosophy (2018) 1-22. Online. Both beliefs and actions can be assessed as being reasonable or unreasonable, right or wrong, good or bad. Some philosophers have thought that these commonalities are evidence for moral realism. After all, if epistemic and moral facts share all salient features, then the moral anti-realist cannot claim that moral facts are uniquely suspicious entities. If this reasoning is on point, then the best arguments against moral realism are not decisive given that we should accept epistemic facts. What it does not show, and what a realist might hope can be shown, is that if there are realistically-construed epistemic facts, then there are moral facts of the same level of robustness. That is what I hope to show here.
This paper was featured and discussed on the PEA Soup Blog February 15-17, 2019. David Enoch wrote a critical precis of the article. I responded to Enoch and others in the comments section below. Link here.
"Normative Pluralism Worthy of the Name is False," Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, 11 (1) (2016). Normative pluralism is the view that practical reason consists in an irreducible plurality of normative domains, that these domains sometimes issue conflicting recommendations and that, when this happens, there is never any one thing that one ought simpliciter to do. Here I argue against this view, noting that normative pluralism must be either unrestricted or restricted. Unrestricted pluralism maintains that all coherent standards are reason-generating normative domains, whereas restricted pluralism maintains that only some are. Unrestricted pluralism, depending on how it is cashed out, is either nihilism about practical reason or else it is subjectivism, neither of which is consistent with normative pluralism. Restricted pluralism faces two problems. The first stems from the question: “Why is it that some standards are normative domains while others are not?” The second is that restricted pluralism has difficulty accounting for our intuitions about cases in which one option is optimal in all domains, but not better than each alternative in any one domain. The unique option that is optimal in every domain seems better than its competitors, though it isn’t better within any domain.
"Rethinking Demandingness: Why Scalar Consequentialism and Satisficing Consequentialism are not Less Demanding than Maximizing Consequentialism," Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 10 (1) (2016). To object to a moral theory, such as maximizing consequentialism, on the grounds that it is too demanding is apparently to say that its requirements are implausibly stringent. This suggests an obvious response: Modify the theory so that its requirements are no longer as stringent. A consequentialist may do this either by placing the requirement threshold below maximization – thereby arriving at satisficing consequentialism – or, more radically, by dispensing with deontological notions such as “requirement” altogether – thereby arriving at scalar consequentialism. Suppose, however, that a moral theory’s demandingness is not a matter of its requirements being stringent, but whether it entails that we have most reason, all things considered, to undertake burdensome actions. If this is the right account of demandingness – as I shall argue – then neither modification necessarily alleviates demandingness. We are led to the surprising conclusion that neither satisficing consequentialism nor scalar consequentialism is inherently less demanding than their more familiar maximizing counterpart.
Philosophy of Religion "A Limited Defense of the Kalam Cosmological Argument," Res Philosophica 94 (1): 165-175 (2017). The kalām cosmological argument proceeds from the claims that everything with a beginning has a cause of its existence, and that the universe has a beginning. It follows that the universe has a cause of its existence. Presumably, this is God. Some defenders of the argument contend that, since we don’t see things randomly coming into existence, we know from experience that everything with a beginning has a cause of its existence. Some critics argue that we may not, in this context, legitimately move from observations of material things within the universe to conclusions about the universe itself. I argue that these critics are mistaken. Plausibly we can, after all, draw cosmic conclusions from everyday experiences in support of the kalām argument.
Social and Political Philosophy "White Privilege: A Conservative Perspective" and "Reply to Lowe," forthcoming, Robert Fischer, ed., Ethics, Left and Right: The Issues that Divide Us (OUP, 2019). I argue that the discourse of “white privilege” is misleading and more likely to exacerbate racial tensions than help to ameliorate them. My central criticism of the notion of privilege is that it is ambiguous between a weak and a strong sense. Ambiguity is not itself inherently problematic. The trouble is that there is apparently no way of resolving the ambiguity while retaining all of the features of privilege that privilege opponents claim that it has. If race-based privilege is understood in the weaker sense, then white privilege clearly exists today, but it’s significance is unclear. On the other hand, if race-based privilege is defined in the strong sense, then it certainly has moral significance, but it’s unclear to what extent it currently exists.