Director of the Minor in Ethics
|Office:||Hyer Hall 211A|
Associate Professor Director of the Minor in Ethics
My primary research program is in metaethics and focuses on a set of closely related questions in moral metaphysics. What are moral obligations and what grounds them? How are conflicts between moral obligations possible? How can moral obligations be pro tanto obligations? How could circumstances that give rise to moral obligations in some cases fail to do so in others? (Or as Jonathan Dancy might put it, how could the right-making relation be holistic?) How do morally relevant factors combine and interact to make right acts right and wrong acts wrong?
Much of my work develops and defends a disposition-based account of morality and moral obligation (one that is, in many ways, analogous to disposition-based accounts of causation and causal laws). On this account, moral obligations are grounded (metaphysically) in irreducibly dispositional features or properties (powers, capacities, etc.) of moral agents and patients, rather than in rules or laws of one kind or another. Roughly, the idea is that our moral obligations (and our moral rights) are grounded directly in features of us (ourselves and others), rather than in (say) rules or laws that somehow bind us to do (or not do) certain things in certain circumstances.
"Nancy Cartwright," in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 3rd ed., ed. Robert Audi (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
"Obligating Reasons, Moral Laws, and Moral Dispositions," Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (2014): 1-34.
"A Dispositional Account of Conflicts of Obligation," Noûs 47 (2013): 203-28.
"Moral Absolutes," in The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette, John Deigh, and Sarah Stroud (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).
"Exploring Alternatives to the Simple Model: Is There an Atomistic Option?," in Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, vol. 2, ed. Mark Timmons, 262-88 (Oxford University Press, 2012).
"Moral Principles As Moral Dispositions," Philosophical Studies 156 (2011): 289-309.
"Moral Principles Are Not Moral Laws," Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy 2 (2008): 1-22.
"Moral Holism, Moral Generalism, and Moral Dispositionalism," Mind 82 (2006): 331-60.
PHIL 3380: Ethical Theory
PHIL 3374: Philosophy of Law
PHIL 1316: Introduction to Ethics