Coming book: The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Paternalism

This book can now be ordered from Routledge: It is due to appear in print in January. I have edited it together with Jason Hanna.

Argument for lager families presented in Uppsala

At the Swedish Philosophy Days I give another version of my argument for why families should include more adults than two. In brief, this is because more parents means more support, more adult interaction and greater stability over time (as parents may die or leave). Plus more people can be parents with fewer children, which may help limit our too large world population.

Talk on respect for the will of children

Today at the workshop Philosophy and Childhood, organized by the Centre for Ethics and Poverty Research at Salzburg University, I give “An argument for intrinsic respect for the will of children”. The idea is that in addition to the reasons we have to respect children in order to protect and promote their wellbeing, and the reasons we have to foster their future autonomy, we also have reasons to respect their will just because it is their will, like we do (I presume) with adults.

Talk at LMU Munich

Today I give an invited lecture under the title “An argument for better families: larger and more diverse”, at the Munich Centre for Ethics, in their series of talks on Family Ethics.

Talk at Inaugural Meeting of the (American) PPE Society

Talking in New Orleans today on “Interference with What?” in a panel organized by Jason Hanna on Autonomy, Rights and Paternalism. I give some reasons to be skeptical of the common idea that paternalism is essentially influence on a person’s sphere of authority in some sense.

Invited presentation in Delft

Speaking today on “The Uses and Limits of Moralization”, at the workshop Health, technology, and moralization: How are technologies influencing the moralization of health?, organized by 4TU, Centre for Ethics and Technology.

New project on sustainability and future people

A research project on Future People and the Concept of Sustainability has been awarded approx. SEK 3 million from the Swedish Research Council Formas. I am the named project leader and I will work alongside my colleague Lars Samuelsson here in Umeå. Lars has expertise in environmental ethics and I have some familiarity with population axiology. The main idea is to combine these things to investigate the concept of sustainability with particular focus on its reference to future people. We will consider the non-identity problem, various impersonal welfarist population axiologies, as well as the value of the continuation of humanity, all in relation to sustainability. The project will probably start towards the end of 2017 and run into 2020.

Article on fairness problem for incentive schemes (and prohibitions)

In this new article, I discuss and try to explain and develop an argument made by Richard Arneson in relation to coercive paternalism. The background is that some people, for whatever reasons, are better than others at making choices regarding their own interests. Since making good choices tends to benefit you, and since being better off makes you a better chooser, the ability to choose well tends to be rather stable over choice situations. All this means that any policy in which a given population must respond to some measure by making a wise choice will tend to aggravate existing inequalities within the group. Incentive schemes, in their traditional/archetypical role as focused on reducing costs, have this property, as does prohibitions that are not completely effective (i.e. people can still choose to disobey and so risk punishment). In contrast, physical changes to the choice environment, as well as some forms of nudging, bypass rational agency and so do not have this property.

TEDx talk on what’s important

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.

New Article on Asymmetric Population Axiology

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.