Research

I work in Moral Philosophy. I am interested in whether it is possible to think systematically about what makes one thing better than another and what we ought to do. At present I am mostly thinking about:

  • The Nature and Limits of Moral Reasoning

Philosophers are used to asking abstract questions about moral or evaluative knowledge: how can we get it, where does it come from? I am interested in more mundane questions about how ordinary moral reasoning is actually meant to work. Should we start with general principles, specific intuitions, paradigmatic cases or something else? Can we refute moral propositions via counterexamples? What, more generally, is the method?

  • Speculative Big Picture Questions

We are very small and (seemingly) insignificant in the grand scheme of things. We will soon go extinct and there will be little or no trace left of us when we do. Does this matter? Will our extinction be a bad thing? If so for whom? Would it be a good thing if we were to attempt to colonise other planets or should we stay put? I will be co-running a seminar on this theme – Philosophical Issues in Space Science – with my colleague Peter Vickers this year.

  • Miscellaneous Puzzles and Paradoxes

I’m interested in paradoxes and puzzles wherever they arise: in moral philosophy and elsewhere. These include: the value of desert, the possibility of two-sided just wars and the nature of paradoxes themselves. You can read drafts on this in the ‘Papers’ section of this site.

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