Philosophy department, University of Birmingham

I have been a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Birmingham since September 2010. The year before that (2009-2010) I was a temporary lecturer at the University of Reading, and before that I was a temporary lecturer at the University of Leeds. I started at Leeds just after getting my PhD in philosophy from the University of Reading (in summer 2008). My thesis, Contractualist Principles and Wrongness, was supervised in Reading by Professors Brad Hooker and Philip Stratton-Lake. I got my first doctorate in philosophy from the University of Helsinki in the Fall 2007. My thesis in Helsinki, Ethics of Justification: A Defence of Contractualism, consisted of five published articles defending different aspects of T.M. Scanlon's contractualism. Before all of this, I had done my masters degree in Helsinki. My masters thesis - Ethics of Risk - was on how different ethical theories can cope with situations of uncertainty (one day, I hope to be able to return to this topic... The first pass on it was done way too early). I have also spent a year (2006-2007) at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill as a visiting scholar.

I have wide philosophical interests. In my recent research, I have mainly focused on the basic debates in metaethics and in the more theoretical side of normative ethics. I am very interested in the nature of moral properties - whether they are natural or non-natural properties and of what sort. I guess the best label for my view in moral metaphysics is 'light-weight non-naturalist moral realism'. I have been trying to develop a view which would in many ways apply something like Crispin Wright's anti-realism to metaethics. I hope this would account for the objectivity of moral truths without commiting us to any metaphysically spooky stuff. I take reason-relations to be basic. My view then claims that information about reasons can make other evaluative, normative, and moral claims 'superassertible'. The truth of these claims fundamentally consists of nothing more than there being this sort of strong epistemic warrant for making them. The idea then is that goodness, wrongness, kindness and the like evaluative and moral properties are 'projections' from the minimally true claims. Truth becomes before reference and properties on this metaethical picture.

In normative ethics, I have defended and developed Scanlonian contractualism. Wrong actions are the ones that are forbidden by the set of principles which we can expect all reasonable persons to accept. There is a connection between this view and my metaethical views too. In the end, I want to argue that information about reasons to reject alternative moral principles makes claims about the wrongness of acts superassertible. This means that contractualism captures a basic epistemic norm of our wrongness discourse which is constitutive of truths about wrongness of actions. I have also tried to respond to many of the objections to contractualism (for instance, to do with aggregation and redundancy issues) and to investigate how contractualism could be applied to ethical questions such as the ones about future populations. I also think that contractualism can shed much more light than has been recognised on what kind of principles and deliberation-procedures we should use in everyday moral reflection.

Because I am interested in both metaethics and normative ethics, I am currently working on a book on what exactly is the relation between metaethics and normative ethics. I was recently awarded an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellow award for this project. The book is provisionally entitled Building Bridges in Ethics - a Theory of Metaethics and Normative Ethics. I have also recently published an ethics textbook - This is Ethics: An Introduction for Wiley-Blackwell. This book covers both normative ethics and metaethics, and also questions about happiness, well-being, moral responsibility, climate change and population growth.

Besides these issues, I have recently been interested in the debates about metaethical expressivism and fictionalism, the consequentialising project (that is, can act-consequentialists account for moral constraints, options, dilemmas and the like? I think yes!), the problems of rule-consequentialism, the nature of realism debates in philosophy in general, the buck-passing accounts of value, the nature of reasons and practical rationality, Kantian ethics, and so on. You can access my published articles and the work-in-process on these and other areas from the links on the left.

Outside ethics, I am interested in political philosophy, philosophy of language, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, experimental philosophy, and Ancient and Early Modern philosophy (I wish I had the time for doing all of this as much as I would want to).

Some information about my non-philosophical interests can be found from the links section. It also includes links to some of philosophical resources including the PEA Soup blog on which I regularly post.