Works in Progress
Philosophy stuff in various stages of completion. If I have anything relevant written that I don't feel too uncomfortable sharing, I've linked it here.
Building on my previous work on pleasure and well-being, I defend the view that (roughly) something is good for us just in case our pleasant experiences motivate us to get it. I argue that this view occupies a principled middle ground between hedonism and desire satisfactionism; it captures what is plausible about broadly subjectivist approaches to well-being while avoiding the worst problems for traditional forms of subjectivism.
Phenomenal Powers & Moral Magnetism
The phenomenal powers view tells us that qualities of experience can make us do things in virtue of their qualitative character. I argue that if this view is correct, then it undermines an influential version J.L.Mackie's argument from queerness. It turns out that there can be states of affairs which are "intrinsically motivating" in the ways that Mackie thought "queer".
Why Moral Aggregation is Aggravating
I explore the possibility that population ethics is hard for the same reason that animal ethics is hard: we are ignorant of some phenomenal truths that are relevant to the ethical questions. Just as we don't know what it's like to be certain animals, we also don't know what it is like to be populations, and this undermines our ability to answer certain crucial axiological questions.
I argue that there is peer disagreement with respect to certain foundational questions about conscious experience, and that this disagreement poses a thornier problem than do peer disagreements on other philosophical issues.
I argue that the capacity for pleasant or unpleasant experience is necessary and sufficient for having moral status, because this capacity is necessary and sufficient for being capable of having a certain kind of concern: namely, the kind that generates the sorts of moral reasons of that go hand in hand with moral status.
Truth-Indicating and Desire-Fulfilling Virtues
I explore an under-theorized distinction introduced by Angela Mendelovici: the distinction between features of theories that make them more likely to be true, and features that make it desirable that they be true. I defend the view that philosophical theories are often selected at least partly on the basis of their "desire-fulfilling virtues", and that this is a problem.
The Limits of Affective Experience
Is there any limit to how pleasant or unpleasant an experience can be at a time? If so, what are these limits? I explore some answers to these questions, and show that the answers have important implications for ethics — for example, for animal ethics and for utility-monster-style objections to utilitarianism.
Metaphysics and Absurdity
I explore three kinds of eliminitivism — about free will, phenomenal consciousness, and personal identity — and explore whether there are any general grounds for doubting arguments from these views to various forms of absurdism. I conclude that there are no such general grounds, and conclude that the prospects of absurdism turn on metaphysical issues in an underappreciated way.
No Grist for Moore's Mill (with Jennifer Foster)
We provide a new, abductive interpretation of Mill’s argument for utilitarianism. We show that Mill’s argument, thus interpreted, is both independently compelling and immune to Moore’s criticisms.
The Qualitative and the Powerful
According to the powerful qualities view, all fundamental properties are both powers and qualities. I defend a neglected version according of this view, according to which all fundamental properties have higher-order non-fundamental properties of powerfulness and qualitativity. I argue that this version best captures the original aspirations of the view.