On Moral Obligations and Our Chances of Fulfilling Them – Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Abstract: Many actions we perform affect the chances of fulfilling our moral obligations. The moral status of such actions is important and deeply neglected. In this paper, I begin rectifying this neglect by asking: under what conditions, if any, is it morally wrong to perform an action that will lower the chance of one fulfilling a moral obligation? In §1, I introduce this question and motivate concern with its answer. I argue, in §2, that certain actions an agent has good reason to believe will drastically lower their chances of fulfilling a moral obligation in the future, relative to at least one alternative action available, are pro tanto morally wrong. This answer, I argue, captures our intuitions in a range of cases, avoids the problems that other views considered here face, and can be plausibly defended against some independent objections. I conclude in §3 by noting some consequences for normative and practical ethics of the moral wrongness of at least some actions that lower the chances of fulfilling our moral obligations, and by raising a series of important questions regarding these actions for future consideration.
Abstract: Jody Azzouni argues that whilst it is indeterminate what the criteria for existence are, there is a criterion that has been collectively adopted to use ‘exist’ that we can employ to argue for positions in ontology. I raise and defend a novel objection to Azzouni: his view has the counterintuitive consequence that the facts regarding what exists can and will change when users of the word ‘exist’ change what criteria they associate with its usage. Considering three responses, I argue Azzouni has best reason to take one that ultimately renders unsuccessful his arguments against mathematical abstracta.
My primary research interests are in (meta-)metaphysics, moral philosophy, and their intersections. My DPhil thesis concerns a range of issues at their intersections. In particular, it addresses questions about how to understand and engage in metaphysical disputes about morality, questions I take to be forcefully raised by a recent form of moral non-naturalism some call relaxed/quietist moral realism.
I have other research interests in, and in the relations between some of, political philosophy, epistemology, meta-philosophy, practical ethics, the philosophy of the classical Islamic period, transformative experience, the philosophies of culture, race, and education, and the history of philosophy.
I have written a brief biography for the Oriel College website on the life and work of the great philosopher and former Provost of Oriel Sir William David Ross. You can find it here.