Bill FitzPatrick, our new Gideon Webster Burbank Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, at a reception for him in the Philosophy Department's Lewis White Beck Library.
I am interested in defending a robust form of ethical realism that involves a non-naturalistic metaphysics of ethical facts and properties as well as an external reasons theory that allows for the categoricity of moral requirements. In addition to critiquing neo-Kantian constructivism, neo-Humean theories of reasons, and naturalistic forms of realism, I also have particular interests in critiquing common appeals to natural teleology and/or evolution in metaethical or ethical arguments. I have recently focused especially on providing a realist response to evolutionary debunking arguments, and on related issues in moral epistemology. Finally, I am interested in problems concerning normative ignorance and moral responsibility.
Normative Ethical Theory
Much of my work in normative ethics has focused on resisting consequentialism, particularly through defenses of the Doctrine of Double Effect against various recent objections.
My work in applied ethics has been mainly in bioethics (the moral status of embryos, non-reproductive cloning, ethical issues in human subjects research) and in environmental ethics (the non-instrumental value of nature; climate change and the rights of future generations).
I am associate editor at the journalEthics.
Courses Offered (subject to change)
Ethical Decisions in Medicine
Teleology and the Norms of Nature (New York: Garland, 2000).
Articles and Chapters
"Skepticism about Naturalizing Normativity: In Defense of Ethical Non-Naturalism," forthcoming in Res Philosophica (October 2014), special issue on ethical non-naturalism, edited by Terence Cuneo. Winner of 2014 Res Philosophica Essay Prize.
"Scientific Naturalism and the Explanation of Moral Beliefs: Challenging Evolutionary Debunking," forthcoming in Kelly Clark, ed., A Companion to Naturalism (Blackwell, 2014).
"Surplus Embryos, Non-Reproductive Cloning, and the Intend/Foresee Distinction," The Hastings Center Report 33:3(May/June 2003). *Reprinted in Ethical Issues in Modern Medicine, 7th edition, ed. by Bonnie Steinbock, Alex John London and John D. Arras (McGraw Hill, 2007).
"Defending Against Biochemical Warfare: Ethical Issues Involving the Coercive Use of Investigational Drugs and Biologics in the Military," with Lee Zwanziger, The Journal of Philosophy, Science and Law (Vol. 3, March, 2003).
"O'Neill and Korsgaard on the Construction of Normativity," with Eric Watkins, The Journal of Value Inquiry, Vol. 36, Nos. 2-3 (summer, 2002).
"Ethical Concerns Over Testing on Human Subjects," Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: Vol. 7, No. 6 (2001).
Review of Giovanni Boniolo and Gabriele De Anna, eds., Evolutionary Ethics and Contemporary Biology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, April 2, 2007: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=9205
Review of Joseph Raz, The Practice of Value (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), Ethics, Vol. 116, No. 4 (July, 2006).
Work in Progress or Under Review
"Ethical Realism in a Darwinian World"
"Practical Reason, Good Action, and the Normative Authority of Morality”