These are papers in various stages of development. Please contact me if you’d like access to them.
“Conscripting labor at the nexus of productive and distributive justice”
ABSTRACT: Political thinkers with a wide range of philosophical commitments, including right libertarians, left libertarians, liberals, and Marxists, have maintained that states necessarily treat their citizens unjustly when they engage in “forced labor.” Here I argue that such labor conscription should not be dismissed a priori and belongs on the menu of options that policymakers ought to consider when trying to secure sufficient labor resources to provide those goods presumptively required by justice, including in particular such goods as medical care, child or elder care, education, etc.
“How the emerging assisted dying consensus undermines the right to die”
ABSTRACT: As measured by the increasing momentum of legalized physician-assisted dying across the globe, the right to die seems to be flourishing. I argue here that in fact the increasing popularity of physician-assisted dying represents a contraction, rather than an expansion, of the right to die. In particular, an examination of evolving language and practice related to self-killing suggests the emergence of a consensus that can be summarized as anti-suicide but pro-assisted dying. Central to this consensus is an assumed contrast between suicide as choosing to die and assisted dying as shaping the circumstances of one’s death. This contrast turns out to be philosophically untenable and ethically troubling. I argue that the right to die is adverbial, i.e., that whatever substance the right to die has, it is not best described as a right to choose death but as a right we mortal creatures have to shape the circumstances of our deaths. Hence, those engaging in physician-assisted dying and those engaging in more conventional ‘suicide’ are both exercising the right to die, typically for approximately the same reasons. Furthermore, attempts to draw psychological, ethical, or definitional lines between assisted dying and suicide fail. The emerging consensus thus implausibly restricts the right to die so as to exclude conventional suicide from its scope, a restriction that likely contributes to the marginalization and stigmatization of suicide.
“Envisioning markets in assisted dying”
ABSTRACT: Societies that legally permit assisted suicide nearly always restrict participation in the practice to physicians, family members, or volunteer-run charitable groups.Thus, even societies otherwise sympathetic to assisted suicide seem reluctant to legitimize assistance by those motivated by monetary gain. But imagine a profit-oriented regulated market in assisted suicide provision, one where individuals who meet the relevant jurisdictional standards regarding their competence and medical condition procure assisted suicide from profit-making enterprises that satisfy legal criteria concerning, for example, staff training, etc. Would such a market be unjust?
Here I canvass several philosophical insights regarding the ethics of markets to argue that such markets can avoid features that render markets ethically troubling and so would not introduce any novel ethical worries. Furthermore, such markets may represent an ethically preferable alternative to other strategies that ‘de-medicalize’ assisted suicide (for example, having volunteer organizations or family members oversee assisted suicide).
“The value of self-knowledge”
ABSTRACT: Philosophers’ interest in the seemingly distinctive epistemic features of self-knowledge have left self-knowledge’s value undertheorized. This paper aims to remedy this by first outlining three constraints that an adequate account of self-knowledge’s distinctive value must meet. Much of our self-knowledge, in particular the commonplace or ‘trivial’ self-knowledge that has held center stage in the contemporary philosophical literature, turns not to meet these constraints and so is not distinctively valuable. However, some self-knowledge has value insofar as it is an achievement (in the sense recently articulated by Gwen Bradford), and ‘substantial’ self-knowledge of our values, emotional dispositions, personalities, etc., enables us to solve a puzzle regarding self-love and the rationality of our partial reasons. Taken together, that self-knowledge can be an achievement and that it enables us to attain rational self-love provide an account of self-knowledge’s value that meets all three of the aforementioned constraints.
“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.