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The Possibility of Permissible-Wrong Action

Orestes Pursued by the Furies

In this paper, I defend both the possibility of Permissible-Wrong Actions [PWA] – actions that are morally permissible and nonetheless morally wrong – and the philosophical utility of recognizing this possibility. I propose a pair of plausible distinctions between types of moral assessments, which together make up what I call the Simplified Moral Framework [SMF]. The SMF reveals conceptual space for a pair of distinct act-assessments distinguishing wrongness from permissibility. I show how judgments about PWA provide a solution to several puzzles, revealing PWA to be an explanatorily powerful theoretical tool.

A conference length version of the paper can be accessed HERE

It was as if she had been made afresh out of new elements, and must perforce be permitted to live her own life and be a law unto herself without her eccentricities being reckoned to her for a crime.  — Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

The Adequacy Account of Justification

Lady Macbeth Sleepwalking

In this paper, I defend the Adequacy Account of Moral Justification. All existing accounts hold that morally justified actions are vindicated or shown to be non-wrong. Instead, I argue that moral justification proves morally permissible actions are morally adequate despite their moral failings. I offer an alternative to the most prominent accounts, according to which an action is justified by appeal to the action alone. I argue that assessments of moral justification (and of permissibility because of its close link to justification) must appeal to agent motivations in addition. I argue that what we know about permissibility in several puzzling scenarios impose constraints on justification that are not accommodated by existing views, but an adequacy account of justification can accommodate.

A version of this paper was previously presented at the APA Pacific.

If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say, that Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his. If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. — Brutus (Julius Caesar, 3.2)


A Unified Account of Second-Order Moral Assessments

He that is proud eats up himself: pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the deed, devours the deed in the praise. — Agamemnon (Troilus and Cressida, 2.3)



Dido and Aeneas Meet

Visit this page if you are looking for my research with the Demographics in Philosophy Project.