I work primarily in metaethics, metaphysics, and epistemology, but my work also extends into normative ethics, moral psychology, and the philosophy of language. 

Publications

1. "Non-naturalism and Normative Necessities" (Oxford Studies in Metaethics, 12, (ed.) Russ Shafer-Landau) I argue that the best way for a non-naturalist to explain why the normative supervenes on the natural is to claim that, while there are some sui generis normative properties whose essences cannot be fully specified in non-normative terms and do not specify any non-normative sufficient conditions for their application, there are certain hybrid normative properties whose essences specify both naturalistic sufficient conditions for their application and sufficient conditions for the sui generis normative properties. This is the only metaphysical explanation for supervenience on offer, I argue, that both (a) clearly respects the pre-theoretical commitments of non-naturalism, and (b) does not posit any unexplained metaphysical necessities between the natural and the normative. (Penultimate Draft)

2. "In Defense of Practical Reasons for Belief" (forthcoming in Australasian Journal of Philosophy) Many philosophers claim that there are no practical reasons for belief because truth is the constitutive standard of correctness for belief or because practical considerations cannot constitute motivating reasons for belief. I argue that both of these arguments against practical reasons for belief fail and that, in the absence of any better argument, we should admit that there are practical reasons for belief. (Penultimate Draft)

3. "Defending Internalists from Acquired Sociopaths" (forthcoming in Philosophical Psychology) Adina Roskies argues that patients with damage to their ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VM patients) are unmotivated by their normative judgments and are thereby counterexamples to motivational internalism. I argue, however, that the neuroscientific evidence that she appeals to does not suggest that VM patients are unmotivated by their normative judgments, but rather, that VM patients only form weak normative judgments. And this account of VM patients' defect, I argue, affords the internalist with a better explanation for VM patients' behavior than Roskies's externalist explanation. (Penultimate Draft

 

Under Review

"Why Relativism Doesn't Explain Internalism" Relativists claim that the truth value of all normative judgments varies between contexts, depending on either (i) the actual attitudes of some person or group in the context, or (ii) the attitudes that some person or group in the context would have, if she or they were in more ideal conditions. While many relativists take a virtue of their view to be that it explains why internalism is true, I argue that relativists actually cannot fully explain internalism. Specifically, I argue that relativism only explains why one is motivated to act in accord with one's normative beliefs when those normative beliefs are true or rational. But the relevant connection between one’s motivations and one’s normative beliefs, for the internalist, holds regardless of the epistemic status of those beliefs. Relativists thus fail to explain a thesis that captures the spirit of internalism. (View pdf

"Grounding the Domains of Reasons" In this paper, I argue that the best explanation for why practical and epistemic reasons are substantively different kinds of reasons that exhibit different weighing behaviors is that practical and epistemic reasons have very different grounds (what I call the Different Source View). And since this view is compatible with taking both practical and epistemic reasons to be facts that stand in the very same, unified normative relation, it can also thereby explain what practical and epistemic reasons have in common that makes them both normative reasons. And the viability of this view, I argue, has significant implications for our metanormative theorizing: it implies that the answer to certain metanormative questions may differ between the practical and epistemic domains. (View pdf

 

 

Mountains are better than armchairs.

Mountains are better than armchairs.


In Progress

"The Essential Question in the Naturalism vs. Non-naturalism Debate" Many metaphysicians and metaethicists have recently begun to specify the naturalism versus non-naturalism debate as a debate about whether all normative facts are fully grounded in the natural facts. In this paper, however, I argue that this is a mistake. The core pre-theoretical commitments of non-naturalism, I argue, are (i) that the normative is significantly different in kind from the natural, and (ii) that countenancing normative properties is incompatible with a purely scientific worldview. And these pre-theoretical commitments can be captured by the claim that the essences of some normative properties cannot be fully specified in terms of natural properties, nor do they specify naturalistic sufficient conditions for their instantiation. But this claim, I argue, is compatible with claiming that all normative facts are fully grounded in the natural facts. This shows that the naturalism vs. non-naturalism debate need not be about grounding after all. 

 

"The Real Problem on Moral Twin Earth" I argue that the problem for naturalist realists that Moral Twin Earth cases bring to light has been misdiagnosed. The problem has nothing to do with disagreement intuitions or metasemantics. The problem is a metaphysical one: it shows that, on a naturalist view, there is nothing privileged about the properties that we pick out with our actual normative terms and concepts in comparison to other properties that alternative normative terms and concepts pick out. And this result, I argue, seems at odds with the core committments of normative realism.