Today my TEDx talk on the importance of asking what is important and how philosophy might help was published online. The talk was given in Umeå on May 11.
In February 2010 I attended a workshop in Uppsala on climate issues, with John Broome the guest of honor. I presented a new population axiology that I claimed would underpin what Broome calls the neutrality intuition – that we tend to be neutral regarding the addition of new lives to the population; once people are born, their lives should be good, but whether or not they are born in the first place is not a concern. Broome was quite skeptical of my proposal but not, I thought, entirely dismissive. This minimal encouragement and my own stubbornness led me to spend a lot of time on this pet project over the next six years. Countless modifications later, core parts of my theory are published today in Philosophical Studies.
My first Poster presentation! Today at a conference on Theoretical Population Ethics at the Philosophy Department of Oxford University. I try to jolt the intuition that it has intrinsic value that humanity survives, independently of the future lives that may be lived given survival. I then discuss how this value may be accommodated in population axiology.
In an article published today in the Journal of Medical Ethics, my co-author Kristin Voigt and I argue that given that a ban on cigarettes would be effective, it would also be justified and preferable to the status quo, all things considered. We propose that other philosophical arguments for a similar ban, mainly by Bob Goodin and Sarah Conly, have down-played the counter-arguments in terms of freedom and autonomy. Still, we argue, the benefits in terms of well-being and equality outweigh these costs.
In the most recent issue of the Swedish philosophy journal Filosofisk Tidskrift, I explore what population axiology has to say about the disvalue of human extinction, and find that current theories on offer don’t have much to say about this, beyond the consequences in terms of particular lives not lived.
Yesterday and today, we are running a conference on the theme “Beyond the Nuclear Family: The Philosophy of Close Personal Relationships” here at Umeå University, we being me and my colleagues Daniela Cutas and Anca Gheaus, collaborators in the research project Close Personal Relationships, Children and the Family. Very happy to see so many interesting speakers and with such diversity of expertise and level of seniority coming together for fruitful discussion. My presentation is titled “Should Parents Love Each Other?” and explores some possible family constellation from the perspective of ensuring important family relationship values.
With Danny Scoccia, I have edited a special issue of Social Theory and Practice, which builds on papers presented at the March 2014 workshop I organized in Umeå on “Respecting Context-Dependent Preferences”. I contribute an article on what exactly we should respect when it comes to a persons choice and preference, taking into account that these often come apart and that preferences are often uninformed and context-dependent.
With Angus Dawson, I have written an article on the proper role of ethics in public health decision-making. We criticize some existing ethical frameworks and propose our own step-wise framework, which is, we claim, more value-neutral and more practically useful. Published today in Health Care Analysis.
A volume edited by Thomas Schramme on New Perspectives on Paternalism and Health Care has been published by Springer in the series Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy. I contribute a chapter titled Antipaternalism as a Filter on Reasons (preprint), where I develop my view of what is the most plausible version of antipaternalism as an independent moral doctrine (which is not a doctrine I subscribe to).
Today at Queen’s University Belfast, I take part in a workshop on “Food Policy between Public Health and Ethical Pluralism”, giving a talk on “Reasonable and unreasonable food preferences”.