My research addresses questions at the intersection of ethics and cognitive science, in an effort to understand the development, breakdown, and improvement of moral character.
I focus both on contemporary moral issues (e.g., animal welfare, moral enhancement, charitable giving) and more ordinary interactions with others (e.g., dishonesty, egoism). Based on an adequate understanding of the sources of our beliefs and decisions (our moral psychology and neurobiology), we can assess whether we’re justified in holding particular moral views and properly motivated to do what’s right. Against a rising pessimism, I’ve argued that moral thought and action are ultimately rational enterprises. (My views are thus largely “rationalist” and “non-skeptical.”) Nevertheless, there is certainly room for improvement, and my work also attempts to understand social change and moral progress. How, in particular, can the sciences of the mind help us to become more virtuous and better equipped to tackle great societal challenges of the 21st century, such as factory farming, climate change, addiction, and mental illness?
Neuroethics: Agency in the Age of Brain Science (Oxford University Press, 2023)
Agency in Mental Disorder: Philosophical Dimensions, co-edited w/Matt King (Oxford University Press, 2022)
Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind (Oxford University Press, 2018)
Reviewed in Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Behavioral & Brain Sciences (symposium), CHOICE, Ethics, Heythrop Journal, Metapsychology, and Utilitas
Harnessing Moral Psychology to Reduce Meat Consumption (forthcoming) Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
[co-authored w/Victor Kumar | 5 min video summary | related op-ed]
Engaging Charitable Giving: The Motivational Force of Narrative Versus Philosophical Argument (forthcoming). Philosophical Psychology.
[co-authored with Eric Schwitzgebel & Chris McVey | data | blog post]
Moral Responsibility and Mental Illness: A Call for Nuance (2018) Neuroethics.
[co-authored w/M. King | featured on Bookforum]
The Means/Side-Effect Distinction in Moral Cognition: A Meta-Analysis (2017) Cognition.
[co-authored w/A. Feltz | data]
Moral Judgment and Deontology: Empirical Developments (2014) Philosophy Compass.
[Featured on Bookforum]
Practical Interests, Relevant Alternatives, & Knowledge Attributions (2010) Review of Philosophy & Psychology.
[co-authored w/Sinnott-Armstrong, Hull, & Zimmerman | blog discussion | data | replications: 1, 2, 3]
The Neuroscience of Moral Judgment: Empirical and Philosophical Developments (2022) In Neuroscience & Philosophy.
[co-authored w/Workman, Haas, & Han | review]
You Don’t Have to be a Vegan to Save the Earth.
WBUR’s Cognoscenti (2022) [co-authored w/V. Kumar]
The Impossible Whopper, Reviewed.
The Birmingham News, on Al.com (2019
Why Do Politicians Appeal to Our Disgust?
The Birmingham News, on Al.com (2016)
What’s the Real Threat to Family Values?
The Birmingham News (2015)
Book Reviews & Commentaries
Review of Bound: Essays on Free Will & Responsibility by Shaun Nichols (2016) Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
[More detailed thoughts in this blog post.]
Review of A Very Bad Wizard: Morality behind the Curtain by Tamler Sommers (2009) Metapsychology.
[Featured on Arts & Letters Daily]
An article on the relationship between agency and neurodiversity (drafted)
“Moral Reasoning and Moral Progress” (w/Victor Kumar) for the Oxford Handbook of Meta-ethics (drafted)
Commentary on A Better Ape for Biology & Philosophy (early stages)
Review of Rational Rules by Shaun Nichols for Ethics (drafted)
Another public philosophy piece on meat consumption (early stages)
A public philosophy piece on neurodiversity (early stages)