Political Philosophy

“Equality and Globalization”, in Keith Horton and Haig Patapan (eds), Reconceiving Equality in a More Global World (London: Routledge, 2004), pp.6-22.

To what extent should our concern for equality be politically bounded, and what difference do contemporary facts about globalization make to those boundaries?

“The Moral, the Personal and the Political”, in Igor Primoratz (ed.), Politics and Morality (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), pp.54-75.

What is the relation between moral reasons and reasons of “political necessity”? Does the authority of morality extend across political decision-making; or are there “reasons of state” which somehow either stand outside the reach of morality or override it, justifying actions that are morally wrong? In this essay, I argue that attempts to claim a contra-moral justification for political action  typically suffer from a fundamental confusion – a confusion about the nature and expression of practical justification. The author aims to bring two new things to the debate. A first aim is to show how light can be shed on this issue by examining a question that philosophers have discussed in isolation from it: the question of the relationship between moral reasons and reasons pertaining to personal well-being. This gives us a better appreciation of the range of available views about the relation of the moral to the political; more importantly, it helps to explain the fundamental challenge to the idea that there could be contra-moral justification of political action. However, it also provides us with guidance for thinking about the ways in which that challenge might be answered. There is, after all, a case to be made for thinking that some political actions can be justified even though they remain morally wrong. And those actions are of great importance to national and international politics today.

“Beneficence, Rights and Citizenship”, Australian Journal of Human Rights 9 (2003), pp. 85-105 , Special Issue on “The Rights of Strangers”.

Reprinted as “Fremde in Not: Wohltätigkeit, Rechte und Staatsbürgerschaft”, in Barbara Bleisch and Peter Schaber (eds), Weltarmut und Ethik (Paderborn: mentis Verlag, 2007),
pp. 53-75.

What are we morally required to do for strangers? To answer this question – a question about the scope of requirements to aid strangers – we must first answer a question about justification: why are we required to aid them (when we are)? The main paper focuses largely on answering the question about justification, but does so in order to arrive at an answer to the question about scope. Three main issues are discussed. First, to what extent should requirements of beneficence – requirements to benefit other people – be seen as generated by people’s rights to receiving aid? Secondly, what is the relationship between requirements of beneficence that apply to us collectively and requirements of beneficence that apply to each of us individually?My third issue concerns the moral significance of citizenship. What morally relevant difference is there between strangers who are compatriots and those who are not?

Book Reviews

“Karol Edward Soltan and Stephen L. Elkin (eds), The Constitution of Good Societies”, Ethics 108 (1998), p. 838.

“Alejandra Mancilla, The Right of Necessity”, Ethics 128 (2017), pp. 260-264.


Work in Progress

“Liberty, Security, and Fairness”

What constraints should be imposed on individual liberty for the sake of protecting our collective security? A helpful approach to answering this question is offered by a theory that grounds political obligation and authority in a moral requirement of fair contribution to mutually beneficial cooperative schemes. This approach encourages us to split the opening question into two — a question of correctness and a question of legitimacy — and generates a detailed set of answers to both subsidiary questions, with a nuanced and plausible set of implications. The plausibility of its treatment of the issues surrounding liberty and security, I argue, helps to confer credibility on the fairness-based theory that carries these implications.