Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

https://link.springer.com/journal/10677

List of Papers (Total 116)

Leaks and the Limits of Press Freedom

Political philosophical work on whistleblowing has thus far neglected the role of journalists. A curious oversight, given that the whistleblower’s objective - informing the public about government wrongdoing - can typically not be realized without the media. The present article, therefore, aims to start remedying this neglect by exploring some of the most pressing questions...

On the Basis of Moral Equality: a Rejection of the Relation-First Approach

The principle of moral equality is one of the cornerstones of any liberal theory of justice. It is usually assumed that persons’ equal moral status should be grounded in the equal possession of a status-conferring property. Call this the property-first approach to the basis of moral equality. This approach, however, faces some well-known difficulties: in particular, it is...

The Mackiean Supervenience Challenge

Non-naturalists about normativity hold that there are instantiable normative properties which are metaphysically discontinuous with natural properties. One of the central challenges to non-naturalism is how to reconcile this discontinuity with the supervenience of the normative on the natural. Drawing on J. L. Mackie’s seminal but highly compressed discussion in Ethics: Inventing...

Hope, Dying and Solidarity

Hope takes on a particularly important role in end of life situations. Sustaining hope can have considerable benefits for the quality of life and any prospect of a good death for the dying. However, it has proved difficult to adequately account for hope when dying, particularly in some of the more extreme end of life situations. Standard secular accounts of hope struggle to...

Inadequate Agency and Appropriate Anger

Communication and cultivation accounts of responsibility (CC accounts) argue that blaming has an important communicative and agency-cultivating function when addressed at someone we consider to be deserving of blame. On these accounts, responsible agents are agents who can understand negative reactive attitudes and are (generally) sensitive to their moral-agency cultivating...

Butchering Benevolence Moral Progress beyond the Expanding Circle

Standard evolutionary explanations seem unable to account for inclusivist shifts that expand the circle of moral concern beyond strategically relevant cooperators. Recently, Allen Buchanan and Russell Powell have argued that this shows that that evolutionary conservatism – the view that our inherited psychology imposes significant feasibility constraints on how much inclusivist...

What’s Wrong with Homophobic Bakeries? A Critical Discussion of Discrimination and its Interaction with Political Freedoms and Religious Conscience, Drawing on the Asher’s Bakery Case in Northern Ireland and Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen’s Theory of Discrimination

The Asher’s Bakery case raises questions around discrimination against political causes and freedom of religious conscience. Using the Asher’s case, this essay builds on Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen’s work to develop a theory of discrimination which accounts for discrimination of political causes. The essay explores the normative implications of this account including the rights...

Refugees, EU Citizenship and the Common European Asylum System A Normative Dilemma for EU Integration

This article argues that the practical difficulties and normative dilemmas at stake in the European refugee crisis as a crisis of EU integration extend beyond refugee policies into what we may call ‘the citizenship regime’ of the European Union in ways that are consequential for refugees, member states, and the European Union. It advances arguments for the relatively rapid access...

When Is Inequality Fair?

Recent literature on responsibility-sensitive egalitarianism has suggested that an opposition to unchosen inequality on the grounds of unfairness is compatible with a range of accounts as to which inequalities are fair. I argue that forms of responsibility-sensitive egalitarianism face a challenge in the construction of such accounts; namely to explain the fairness of such...

The Subject of Harm in Non-Identity Cases

In a typical non-identity case, the agent performs an action that causes someone to exist at a low but positive level of well-being, although an alternative was to create another, much happier person instead. There seem to be strong moral reasons against what the agent does, but it is difficult to explain how this can be so. In particular, it seems that on a simple counterfactual...

More Problems for the Counterfactual Comparative Account of Harm and Benefit

The counterfactual comparative account of harm and benefit (CCA) has several virtues, but it also faces serious problems. I argue that CCA is incompatible with the prudential and moral relevance of harm and benefit. Some possible ways to revise or restrict CCA, in order to avoid this conclusion, are discussed and found wanting. Finally, I try to show that appealing to the context...

Moral Uncertainty for Deontologists

Defenders of deontological constraints in normative ethics face a challenge: how should an agent decide what to do when she is uncertain whether some course of action would violate a constraint? One common response to this challenge proposes a threshold principle on which it is subjectively permissible to act iff the agent’s credence that her action would be constraint-violating...

The Explanation Proffering Norm of Moral Assertion

In recent years, much attention has been given to the epistemic credentials of belief based on moral testimony. Some people think pure moral deference is wrong, others disagree. It comes as a surprise, however, that while the epistemic responsibilities of the receiver of moral testimony have been closely scrutinized, little to no discussion has focused on the epistemic duties of...

Judgment Internalism: an Argument from Self-Knowledge

One of the most important metaethical debates concerns the relationship between evaluative judgments and motivation. The so-called judgment internalists claim that there is an internal modal connection between our evaluative judgments and motivation, whereas the so-called externalists believe that evaluative judgments are connected to desires only through contingent external...

Harm and Discrimination

Many legal, social, and medical theorists and practitioners, as well as lay people, seem to be concerned with the harmfulness of discriminative practices. However, the philosophical literature on the moral wrongness of discrimination, with a few exceptions, does not focus on harm. In this paper, I examine, and improve, a recent account of wrongful discrimination, which divides...

The Problem of Justified Harm: a Reply to Gardner

In this paper, we critically examine Molly Gardner’s favored solution to what she calls “the problem of justified harm.” We argue that Gardner’s view is false and that her arguments in support of it are unconvincing. Finally, we briefly suggest an alternative solution to the problem which avoids the difficulties that beset Gardner’s proposal.

Over-Determined Harms and Harmless Pluralities

A popular strategy for meeting over-determination and pre-emption challenges to the comparative counterfactual conception of harm is Derek Parfit’s suggestion, more recently defended by Neil Feit, that a plurality of events harms A if and only if that plurality is the smallest plurality of events such that, if none of them had occurred, A would have been better off. This analysis...

Irrational Option Exclusion

In this paper, I describe a hitherto overlooked kind of practical irrationality, which I call irrational option exclusion. An agent who suffers from this problem does not merely fail to act on her best judgement – she fails to realize that the superior action is even an option for her. I furthermore argue that this kind of irrationality is serious enough to undermine moral...

Against Elective Forgiveness

It is often claimed both that forgiveness is elective and that forgiveness is something that we do for reasons. However, there is a tension between these two central claims about the nature of forgiveness. If forgiving is something one does for reasons, then, at least sometimes, those reasons may generate a requirement to forgive or withhold forgiveness. While not strictly...

Optimism, Agency, and Success

Does optimism lead to success? Friends of optimism argue that positive beliefs about ourselves and our future contribute to our fitness and mental health, and are correlated with good functioning, productivity, resilience, and pro-social behaviour. Sceptics, instead, claim that when we are optimistic we fail to react constructively to negative feedback, and put ourselves at risk...