Research

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 societal challenges of the 21st century, such as factory farming, climate change, and mental illness?

Books

Neuroethics: Agency in the Age of Brain Science (Oxford University Press, under contract)

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 JournalMetapsychologyand Utilitas

Journal Articles

Harnessing Moral Psychology to Reduce Meat Consumption.
Journal of the American Philosophical Association (forthcoming)
[co-authored w/V. Kumar | 5 min video summary]

Which Moral Exemplars Inspire Prosociality?
Philosophical Psychology (forthcoming)
[co-authored w/Han, Workman, et al. | data]

Moral Rationalism on the Brain
Mind & Language (forthcoming)
[Best Paper Prize in Philosophy, Italian Society for Neuroethics | video abstract | 10 min talk]

Bias in Science: Natural and Social.
Synthese (2021)
[video abstract | blog post ]

Experimental Philosophical Bioethics.
AJOB Empirical Bioethics (2020)
[co-authored w/Earp et al]

Précis of Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind.
Behavioral & Brain Sciences (2019)
[Target discussion to appear with 21 commentaries and my replies.]

Moral Responsibility and Mental Illness: A Call for Nuance.
Neuroethics (2018)
[co-authored w/M. King | featured on Bookforum]

The Means/Side-Effect Distinction in Moral Cognition: A Meta-Analysis.
Cognition (2017)
[co-authored w/A. Feltz | data]

Emotional Reactions to Human Reproductive Cloning.
 Journal of Medical Ethics (2016)
[Selected as Editor’s Choice with a discussion piece | featured on Bookforum | blog discussion | data]

Does Disgust Influence Moral Judgment?
Australasian Journal of Philosophy (2014) 
[Featured on Bookforum]

On the Very Concept of Free Will
Synthese (2014)
[Blog discussion | featured on Bookforum | datareplication]

Moral Judgment and Deontology: Empirical Developments.
Philosophy Compass (2014)
[Featured on Bookforum]

Does Belief in Dualism Protect against Maladaptive Psycho-social Responses to Deep Brain Stimulation?
American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience (2014)
[co-authored w/J. Shepard]

Does Opacity Undermine Privileged Access?
International Journal of Philosophical Studies (2014)
[Critical notice, co-authored w/T. Allen]

Skeptical Hypotheses and Moral Skepticism.
Canadian Journal of Philosophy (2013)
[Featured on Bookforum; reply in JESP]

Because I Believe It’s the Right Thing to Do.
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice (2013)

What in the World Is Weakness of Will?
Philosophical Studies (2012) 
[co-authored w/R. Holton | blog discussion | datareplication]

Egoism, Empathy, and Self-Other Merging.
Southern Journal of Philosophy (2011)
[Emerging Scholar Prize Essay; other contributors include: S. Darwall, J. Deigh, P. Goldie, J. Prinz, M. Slote.]

Relational Desires and Empirical Evidence against Psychological Egoism.
European Journal of Philosophy (2011)

Practical Interests, Relevant Alternatives, & Knowledge Attributions.
Review of Philosophy & Psychology (2010)
[co-authored w/Sinnott-Armstrong, Hull, & Zimmerman | blog discussion | data | replications: 1, 2, 3]

Book Chapters

The Neuroscience of Moral Judgment: Empirical and Philosophical Developments.
In Neuroscience & Philosophy (2022)
[co-authored w/Workman, Haas, & Han]

How to Debunk Moral Beliefs.
In Methodology and Moral Philosophy (2019)
[co-authored w/V. Kumar | review]

The Limits of Emotion in Moral Judgment.
In The Many Moral Rationalisms (2018)
[review]

The Limits of Appealing to Disgust.
In The Moral Psychology of Disgust (2018)

Getting Less Cynical about Virtue.
In Moral Psychology, Vol. 5: Virtue & Character (2017)
[commentary on C. D. Batson]

Repugnance as Performance Error: The Role of Disgust in Bioethical Intuitions.
In The Ethics of Human Enhancement (2016)
[review]

Reference Works

Moral Reasoning and Emotion (2018)
The Routledge Handbook of Moral Epistemology
[co-authored w/V. Kumar]

Empathy and Intersubjectivity (2017)
The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Empathy
[The volume won CHOICE’s Outstanding Academic Title of the Year 2018]

Empirical Work in Moral Psychology (2017) 
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
[Updated and expanded on 2012 version.]

Psychological Egoism (2011) 
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Op-eds/Public-facing Articles

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

A Limited Skeptical Threat, commentary on John Doris’s Talking to Our Selves
Behavioral & Brain Sciences (2018).

Review of Bound: Essays on Free Will & Responsibility by Shaun Nichols,
Australasian Journal of Philosophy
(2016).
[More detailed thoughts in this blog post.]

Review of Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil by Paul Bloom 
Metapsychology (2014).

Review of Experimental Philosophy ed. by Knobe & Nichols,
Philosophical Psychology (2010).

Review of Willing, Wanting, Waiting by Richard Holton,
Metapsychology (2009).

Review of A Very Bad Wizard: Morality behind the Curtain by Tamler Sommers
Metapsychology (2009)
[Featured on Arts & Letters Daily]

In Progress

An article on how arguments influence charitable giving (R&R)

“Moral Reasoning and Moral Progress” (w/Victor Kumar) for the Oxford Handbook of Meta-ethics (drafted)

An article on the relationship between agency and neurodiversity (early stages)

Commentary on A Better Ape for Biology & Philosophy (early stages)

A public philosophy piece on meat consumption (early stages)

A public philosophy piece on neurodiversity (early stages)