Research statement:

My research primarily concerns bioethics and moral epistemology. In bioethics, I am primarily interested in the effects that genetic manipulation and biomedical enhancement technologies have on medicine and society, as well as arguments for and against their implementation. In general, I defend moderate views, according to which there are plausible moral explanations as to which manipulations and enhancements are permissible. My views on artificial intelligence in the medical profession are similar. I argue that automating medical tasks risks undermining the implicit trust that patients have in medicine, because trust requires human interaction. Thankfully, this view would still allow many AI systems to be implemented. In bioethics, I have also written on the ethics of informed consent to clinical trials and methods of clinical moral reasoning.My research primarily concerns bioethics and moral epistemology. In bioethics, I am primarily interested in the effects that artificial intelligence and automation technologies would have on the physician-patient relationship. I have argued for a moderate view that holds that automating medical tasks risks undermining the implicit trust that patients have in medicine, because trust requires human interaction. Thankfully, this view would still allow many AI systems to be implemented. I hold similarly moderate views about biomedical manipulation of the human organism. I have also written on the ethics of informed consent to clinical trials and methods of clinical moral reasoning.

In metaethics, my focus is on moral epistemology. My dissertation argues that moral epistemology should adopt a pragmatist notion of moral success, and that this means that moral epistemology needs to pay close attention to the methodologies that it prescribes to agents. The pragmatist perspective I employ is naturalistic in the Quinean tradition, based on a genealogical explication of the nature of moral knowledge, and justified through conceptual engineering. The more practical sections of the dissertation apply the pragmatism that I develop to specific issues, like the foundationalist/coherentist debate, threshold deontology, and clinical moral reasoning (a point at which my two research programs dovetail). On the pragmatist criterion of moral success, part of what makes a theoretical claim successful is that it helps solve a practical moral problem, which means that the practical applications are essential to showing pragmatism’s strengths.

Additionally, I have interests in Rawls, metaphilosophical issues about intuitions, and expressivism.

Publications:

Abstract: In the philosophical debate about the desirability of immortality it is argued that immortality could never be desirable, since it requires us to either take on a life where none of our projects or interests stimulate us anymore, or else to loosen our connections to our past selves and no longer survive. I argue that both concerns can be met by considering the role that partial forgetting of past experiences would play in the immortal life. One who loses some non‐essential memories of their past stands to be able to enjoy experiences that have grown tiresome with age. My contribution is to clarify how partial forgetting of only the non‐essential memories allays concerns about our potentially loosened connections to our earlier states. I then consider an objection to my account, that since the standards governing collective memory might be more demanding than those governing individual memory, immortal people might sacrifice aspects of their collective lives to render their own immortal lives enjoyable. Link to article: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/japp.12271
'Abstract': A great number of contemporary philosophers are concerned about the relationship between the facts of evolutionary science and the positions that they hold dear. Since philosophy tends to address foundational questions about the kinds of creatures that human beings are and the world that they occupy, and evolution along with its driver natural selection have deeply shaped the human experience, we might say that any serious philosophical project must at some point address evolutionary theory. However, the details of evolutionary theory are arcane and, much like the data of philosophy itself, often reveal themselves only to those engrossed in the weeds of their respective disciplines. Thus, it’s essential for philosophers interested in the implications of evolutionary science to get their hands on rigorous yet accessible discussions of that science. To this end, Cooperation and its Evolution ought to be on the reading lists of a great many philosophers. It is a rich and varied collection of essays by biologists and philosophers working at the cutting edges of evolutionary science and the crossroads between that science and philosophy. Given the fact that the book is an imposing tome, weighing at around 600 pages, I hope that this review can serve as a guide for interested philosophers, as well as those in other related fields. I do this by providing a narrative overview of the essays, drawing connections and extending ideas where I see fit. Link to review (open access): https://commons.pacificu.edu/eip/vol16/iss2/11/
Abstract: Researchers in virtually every discipline rely on sophisticated proprietary software for their work. However, some researchers are unable to afford the licenses and instead procure the software illegally. We discuss the prohibition of software piracy by intellectual property laws, and argue that the moral basis for the copyright law offers the possibility of cases where software piracy may be morally justified. The ethics codes that scientific institutions abide by are informed by a rule-consequentialist logic: by preserving personal rights to authored works, people able to do so will be incentivized to create. By showing that the law has this rule-consequentialist grounding, we suggest that scientists who blindly adopt their institutional ethics codes will commit themselves to accepting that software piracy could be morally justified, in some cases. We hope that this conclusion will spark debate over important tensions between ethics codes, copyright law, and the underlying moral basis for these regulations. We conclude by offering practical solutions (other than piracy) for researchers. Link to article: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11948-014-9573-5 Penultimate draft
Abstract: The use of opaque, uninterpretable artificial intelligence systems in health care can be medically beneficial, but it is often viewed as potentially morally problematic on account of this opacity—because the systems are black boxes. Alex John London has recently argued that opacity is not generally problematic, given that many standard therapies are explanatorily opaque and that we can rely on statistical validation of the systems in deciding whether to implement them. But is statistical validation sufficient to justify implementation of these AI systems in health care, or is it merely one of the necessary criteria? I argue that accountability, which holds an important role in preserving the patient‐physician trust that allows the institution of medicine to function, contributes further to an account of AI system justification. Hence, I endorse the vanishing accountability principle: accountability in medicine, in addition to statistical validation, must be preserved. AI systems that introduce problematic gaps in accountability should not be implemented. Link to article: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hast.1248