Work in Progress

These are papers in various stages of development. Please contact me if you’d like to cite them.

“Consequentialism and our special relationship to self”

ABSTRACT: A common objection to consequentialism is that it cannot ascribe intrinsic moral significance to the special relationships we bear to our friends, family, loved ones, etc. However, little has been said about the prospect of a special moral relationship to self. Here I argue that such a relationship exists; that it has features distinguishing it from other putative special relationships, most notably, that it generates options rather than obligations; that making sense of such options requires positing that the self has a normative architecture wherein the self as agent and self as patient stand in an authority relation; and that consequentialism cannot make sense of such a normative architecture and so cannot make sense of the special relationship to self. Acknowledging a special relationship to self also modifies and strengthens the objection that consequentialism is too demanding on individual agents.

Esotericism in moral philosophy

ABSTRACT:  Some philosophers are uneasy with the prospect of an esoteric moral theory. More exactly, a theory T is esoteric if and only if T is true (or correct, or superior to its theoretical rivals, etc.) but there are some individuals who ought not embrace T, where to embrace T is to believe T and rely upon it in practical deliberation. However, it is not obvious what force, if any, this esotericism objection is supposed to have, and many who articulate the objection seem to suppose that its force is obvious. Here I take consequentialism as the best example of an esoteric theory and attempt to identify the best version of the esotericism objection. After arguing that four interpretations of the objection can be answered by esoteric consequentialists, I articulate the best version of this objection, namely, that esoteric consequentialism preordains that non-consequentialist moral outlooks are evidentially irrelevant to moral inquiry and deliberation and therefore unjustly treats its own substantive theoretical commitments as methodological constraints on the pursuit of reflective equilibrium.