Research Overview

My philosophical instincts are naturalistic, pragmatist and sentimentalist. I am influenced by David Hume, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Harriet Taylor Mill, William James, John Dewey, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bernard Williams, Simon Blackburn and Philip Kitcher.

In metaethics, I am a critic of realist and objectivist theories. We should not conditionalise our commitment to ethical life on the hope that morality is robustly objective.

In normative ethics I work on utilitarianism. I argue that we can rescue the core insight of utilitarianism, that morality exists to benefit us, whilst entirely rejecting act-utilitarianism.

In political philosophy, I argue that “Yes We Can!” beliefs – faith beyond our evidence that we can change the world – are rational, because they are collectively self-fulfilling.

In philosophy of mind, I advocate a reflexive imperativist theory of affective states like pleasure and pain. Pains are states which say “get rid of me!”; pleasures say “get more of me!”.

Extra-Curricular Research

I care a lot about food, and when I’m not writing philosophy or teaching, I am engaged in epic pursuit of the most delicious mapo tofu. I’ve come close on a couple of occasions (see below), but have yet to attain the ideal.