Iris Murdoch, Privacy and the Limits of Moral Testimony
European Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
Recent discussions of moral testimony have focused on the acceptability of forming beliefs on the basis of moral testimony, but there has been little acknowledgement of the limits to testimony’s capacity to convey moral knowledge. In this paper I outline one such limit, drawing on Iris Murdoch’s (1956, 1970) conception of private moral concepts. Such concepts, I suggest, plausibly play an important role in moral thought, and yet moral knowledge expressed in them cannot be testimonially acquired.
The Epistemic Demands of Friendship: Friendship as Inherently Knowledge-Involving
Synthese (forthcoming issue, published online)
Many recent philosophers have been tempted by epistemic partialism. They hold that epistemic norms and those of friendship constitutively conflict. In this paper, I suggest that underpinning this claim is the assumption that friendship is not an epistemically rich state, an assumption that even opponents of epistemic partiality have not questioned. I argue that there is good reason to question this assumption, and instead regard friendship as essentially involving knowledge of the other. If we accept this account of friendship, the possibility of epistemic partialism does not arise.
Hoping and Intending
Journal of the American Philosophical Association (forthcoming)
Hope powerfully influences our lives, deeply shaping our actions as well as being essential for social and political change. Many accounts of hope, however, fail to do justice to its active role, ignoring the connection between hope and action which makes it a significant feature of our lives. In this paper I propose a new account of hope in which hopes characteristically shape and figure in intentions. I argue that this account does justice to hope’s distinctive manifestations in action, explains the rational constraints on hoping, and sheds light on the distinctions between hoping and wishing.
The Virtue of Hope in a Turbulent World
Values and Virtues in a Changing World, ed. Anneli Jefferson, Orestis Palermos, Panos Paris and Jonathan Webber (forthcoming)
In this paper I argue that hope is a virtue. I argue that hope is necessary for engaging in a broad kind of project which is essential in order to live a meaningful human life (‘vulnerable projects’), and that this gives us reason to think that it is non-instrumentally valuable in our lives. Specifically, I will suggest that it is well understood as a structural virtue, a virtue of self-governance. Such a virtue will be particularly significant in turbulent times, since in those periods we may not be in a position to have outright (positive) expectations about the future.
Mourning and the Recognition of Value
Co-authored with Matt Dougherty. In Mourning, edited by Mikolaj Slawkowski-Rode (forthcoming)
Ancient Greek thinking in regard to mourning can seem austere and dispassionate, condemning long periods of mourning as uncourageous. Modern reflections on the topic, however, seem to lead to a different problem. We moderns usually take mourning to be a proof of the value that others have for us and, to that extent, to encourage it; but if mourning is a proof of value, how could it be appropriate to move on when one has truly loved and valued someone? Assuming that it is appropriate to value others extremely highly – perhaps even infinitely – how could it ever make sense for one’s grief to abate? Do loss and proper mourning thus present us with a choice between living well and loving well?
In this paper, we aim to vindicate the pressing nature of these questions but nonetheless argue that we do not need to choose between living well and loving well. We first explain how these questions become pressing and why loving well seems to necessitate unending mourning in the case of some losses. We then turn to some empirical research about how people in fact mourn the loss of partners and close family members – research that can seem to imply that we do not tend to love well at all. And, finally, we offer an explanation of why ceasing to mourn need not be a failure of love. In particular, we offer an account of how ceasing to mourn can be a fitting response to the object of love, as well as compatible with living well.
Iris Murdoch and the Epistemic Significance of Love
In New Philosophical Essays on Love and Loving, edited by Simon Cushing (forthcoming)
Iris Murdoch makes some ambitious claims about love’s epistemic significance which can initially seem puzzling in the light of its heterogeneous and messy everyday manifestations. In this paper I provide an interpretation of Murdochian love such that Murdoch’s claims about its epistemic significance can be understood. I argue that Murdoch conceives of love as a virtue, and as belonging at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of the virtues, and that this makes sense of the epistemic role Murdochian love fulfils. Moreover, I suggest that there is good reason to think that Murdochian love is not as far from everyday conceptions of love as it can initially appear.
On the Basis of Friendship - a Reply to Phelan
Inquiry (published version)
What is common to all instances of friendship? Given their seemingly heterogeneous character, Phelan (2019) suggests that friendships are relationships that result from collaborative norm-manipulation. In this paper, I suggest that this proposal fails to account for all friendships without relying on the notion of some kind of care.
Humility and Ethical Development
Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 17 (2020) (published version)
Humility can seem like a somewhat ‘unfashionable’ virtue: the word can conjure an image of cringing servility, unduly romanticised feelings of inferiority, or a level of self-denial which seems ill-placed in a life well-lived. But the term can also capture something of great ethical importance. In this paper, I propose an account of humility that attempts to capture this moral significance. I then explore the connection between humility and ethical development, arguing that humility has an important role in ethical improvement. If such a connection is vindicated, it suggests that humility is valuable twice over: it has intrinsic worth but is also instrumentally valuable, enabling us to become better people.
Responsibility and Comparative Pride - a Critical Discussion of Morgan-Knapp
The Philosophical Quarterly 70 (2020) (published version)
Taking pride in being better than others in some regard is not uncommon. In a recent paper, Christopher Morgan-Knapp (2019) argues that such pride is misguided: it ‘presents things as being some way they are not’ (Morgan-Knapp 2019: 317). I argue that Morgan-Knapp's arguments do not succeed in showing that comparative pride is theoretically mistaken.
Review of Wright (ed.) Humility
Journal of Moral Philosophy (forthcoming)
Papers in Progress (email me for drafts)
The Badness of Having Bad Friends
Forgiveness and Openness to Reconciliation
Murdoch and Gilead: John Ames as a Model of Murdochian Virtue