Research

Research Interests

I have two primary areas of research. The first is focused on the nature and import of practical reasons: what makes it the case that something stands in the reason relation, how reasons are related to reasoning, and how a reasons-oriented approach to the deontic interacts with traditional questions in normative ethics. The second area of research addresses ethical issues concerning artificial intelligence, especially those that arise from the use of machine learning. For a complete list of my publications and presentations, please see my full curriculum vitae.

Publications

Forthcoming Work

  • "Autonomous Vehicles and Trolleys: New Foundations for the Ethics of Machine Learning" (with John Basl), forthcoming in Autonomous Vehicle Ethics: Beyond the Trolley Problem (Oxford University Press, forthcoming in 2020), editors David Černý, Tomáš Hříbek, Ryan Jenkins

  • "Appendix: Varieties of Trolley Pessimism" (with John Basl), forthcoming in Autonomous Vehicle Ethics: Beyond the Trolley Problem (Oxford University Press, forthcoming in 2020), editors David Černý, Tomáš Hříbek, Ryan Jenkins

Drafts of both of the above are available upon request.

Work in Progress

  • I've recently finished a round of revisions on a paper concerned with the connections between the contents of practical reasoning, on the one hand, and the contents of our practical reasons, on the other. I argue that a connection can be established with significantly less costly theoretical resources than has so far been noticed. (under review, draft available upon request)

  • With John Basl (Northeastern University) and David Gray Grant (Harvard University), I'm working on a new project on algorithmic opacity. The gist of our main idea is that in order to get a full picture of the normative reasons that bear on what kind and degree of transparency we should prefer when using automated decision systems, we need a framework for understanding the broad range of considerations that inform what we owe to decision subjects generally. Approaching things this way reveals that the existing literature has been myopically focused on a narrow range of reasons (though an important range, to be sure). (undergoing significant revisions)

  • I'm in the early stages of a paper that examines how a popular theory about the relationship between reasons and all-things-considered deontic statuses of actions interacts with traditional ways of thinking about instrumental transmission. (in preparation)

Defunct Papers

"The Dual Grounds of Practical Normativity: Toward a Hybrid Theory of Practical Reasons"

  • This paper has been cited a couple of times (including once by me). It no longer exists as a single paper, but all of the ideas that it contained can be found either in "Problems and Solutions for a Hybrid Approach to Grounding Practical Normativity," or "Normative Source and Extensional Adequacy."

Select Presentations

  • "What We Owe to Decision Subjects: Beyond Transparency and Explanation in Automated Decision Making" (with David Gray Grant and John Basl)

    • Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress (2020)

  • "Ethics of Technology and Innovation"

    • Orientation guest speaker for the Technology and Public Purpose program (Harvard Kennedy School)

  • "Ethics in Computing" (one of six panelists)

    • Mozilla Festival, London (2019)

  • "Why Everyone Has It Wrong about the Ethics of Autonomous Vehicles" (with John Basl)

  • "Ethics Education in Computer Science: The Embedded EthiCS Approach"

  • "Moral Machine: What is it Good For?" (with John Basl)

    • Artificial Intelligence and Experience Workshop, UMass Boston (2019)

  • "Of Trolleys and Tesla: Could Trolley Cases Help Us Understand How to Program Autonomous Vehicles?" (with John Basl and Mark Lee)

    • 15th International Conference on Technology, Knowledge, and Society (2018)

    • Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress (2018)

  • "Deciding on the Basis of Normative Reasons"

    • Boston University Ethics Seminar (2018)

  • "Practical Reasons and Practical Reasoning"

    • Minnesota State University (2017)

    • Philosophy Desert Workshop (2017)

  • "Educating for Gender Justice: A Case for Mandatory Gender-Differentiated Home Economics Classes" (with Gina Schouten)

    • Society for Applied Philosophy Conference (2016)

  • "Reason to Promotion Inferences" (with Joshua DiPaolo)

    • Central States Philosophical Association (2015)

    • Mountain-Plains Philosophy Conference (2015)

  • "Probabilistic Promotion Revisited" (with Joshua DiPaolo)

    • Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress (2015)

  • "Practical Deliberation and Acting for a Reason: Two Arguments against Source Externalism"

    • Midsouth Philosophy Conference (2015)

    • American Philosophical Association (Central Division) (2015)

    • Wisconsin Philosophical Association (2014)

  • "Problems and Solutions for a Hybrid Account of Normative Grounding"

    • St. Louis Annual Conference on Reasons and Rationality (2014)

    • Inaugural Normativity Conference (2014)

  • "Moral Realism, Evolution, and Our Reasons to Survive"

    • Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress (2012)

    • Northwestern University Society for the Theory of Ethics and Politics (2012)

    • Indiana Philosophical Association (2012)

    • Wisconsin Philosophical Association (2012)

  • "Parfit's All or None Argument and the Development of Meta-normative Hybridism"

    • American Philosophical Association (Eastern Division) (2012)

    • Central States Philosophical Association (2012)

    • Midsouth Philosophy Conference (2012)

  • "When do the Means Promote the Ends?" (with Joshua DiPaolo)

    • Naturalisms in Ethics Conference (2011)