I think it's important to share our research as widely as possible and in ways that are both interesting and accessible to non-academics.
Articles & Chapters
I've published articles in various philosophy journals and contributed to psychological research on the effects of forgiveness.
I present my research at conferences around the world. This year, I'll be commenting on a paper at the Central APA (online).
- "Forgiveness and Its Reasons" for Legal-Phi, 5 March 2019 (interview with Lucas Miotto)
- “The Case for Regular Political Apology” for the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace blog, 8 February 2019 (with Allison Don)
- “Forgiving Hate Crimes: The Case of Dylann Roof” for the International Network of Hate Studies, 8 March 2017 (with Luke Brunning)
- “Should we forgive ourselves?” for A2Ethics, 8 November 2016
- “Is tobacco control a “best buy” for the developing world?” for Giving What We Can, 7 September 2015
Articles & Chapters
"Forgiving and Ceasing to Blame" in Conflict and Resolution: The Ethics of Forgiveness, Revenge, and Punishment [forthcoming]
- This chapter offers an account of reasons to forgive and explains the significance of distinguishing them from other reasons to cease blaming. First, I argue that we forgive for reasons. Second, I argue that forgiving requires the right kinds of reasons. I distinguish bad reasons from the wrong kind of reasons and discuss the role of reasons in forgiving. Third, I use my account to distinguish forgiving from letting go of blame and show how this distinction helps to solve some longstanding challenges faced by forgiveness theories. Fourth, I argue that many proposed reasons to forgive are the wrong kind of reason and that all reasons to forgive are instances of a more general reason, namely, an apparent change of heart on the part of the offender. Finally, I consider objections to my account of forgiving and ceasing to blame, focusing on different concerns about the conceptual framework I impose on our practices. Throughout, I try to show how my account can help us to navigate our inevitable moral conflicts.
"Permission, Blame, and Forgiveness" in Australasian Philosophical Review 3.1 [forthcoming]
- This brief paper is commentary on Miranda Fricker's recent article, "Forgiveness: An Ordered Pluralism."
"Forgiveness" in the Oxford Handbook of Moral Responsibility [forthcoming]
- My aim in this chapter is to explore the connection between forgiveness and responsibility. One could describe the landscape of the forgiveness debate in any number of ways: by subject (e.g. victim-, self-, third party, and institutional forgiveness), by discipline (e.g., philosophy, theology, social psychology, and psychiatry), by comparison with cognate phenomena (e.g. excuse, justification, mercy, and letting go), by its manifestation (e.g. private or communicated), or in some other way. My approach is to introduce a common model of forgiveness and some recent challenges to it, each of which highlights potential connections between forgiveness and responsibility.
"Regularized Political Apology" in Public Affairs Quarterly 34.3 (2020) [co-authored with Allison Don]
- Our world has been shaped by the injustices of the past. Many of the nations responsible for these injustices still exist, and there are many cases in which one can point to culpable wrongdoing and identify victims and offenders. Such cases demand apologies as a matter of justice, respect, and due concern. In this paper, we argue that some states should institute a practice of regular political apology by (a) designating a regular day of apology on which the head of state publicly apologizes for a different past instance of serious misconduct by the state, and (b) supplementing these apologies with related actions or policies intended to make amends to the victims or their descendants.
"Harmful Internet Use (Part II: Impact on Culture and Society)" for the European Parliamentary Research Service [co-authored with Philip Brey and Stéphanie Gauttier]
- It is increasingly recognised that the internet, in spite of all its benefits to society, can also be correlated with significant harmful effects on individuals and society. Some of these harmful aspects have been studied extensively, particularly harm to privacy, harm associated with security and cybercrime, and harm resulting from digital divides. This study covers less studied but equally important effects: harm associated with the quality of social structures and institutions. In Part II of this study, following a review of facts and statistics relating to internet use in the European Union, eight significant harmful social and cultural effects associated with internet use were identified, and a review was performed of theoretical and empirical literature concerning these aspects. The harmful effects that were reviewed are: internet addiction, harm to cognitive development, information overload, harmful effects on knowledge and belief, harm to public/private boundaries, harm to social relationships, harm to communities and harms to democracy and democratic citizenship. This review is followed by policy options for preventing and mitigating these harmful aspects.
“Reasons to Forgive” in Analysis 79.2 (2019)
- When we forgive, we do so for reasons. One challenge for forgiveness theorists is to explain which reasons are reasons to forgive and which are not. This paper argues that we forgive in response to a perceived change of heart on the part of the offender. The argument proceeds in four steps. First, I show that we forgive for reasons. Second, I argue that forgiveness requires the right kind of reason. Third, I show that these two points explain a common distinction between forgiving and letting go and, in doing so, solve a problem facing many accounts of forgiveness. Finally, I consider candidate reasons to forgive and argue that all of them are either the wrong kind of reason or are instances of a more general reason of the right kind, namely, a perceived change of heart.
"Oppression, Forgiveness, and Ceasing to Blame" in Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 14.2 (2018) [co-authored with Luke Brunning]
- Wrongdoing is inescapable. We all do wrong and are wronged; and in response we often blame one another. But if blame is a defining feature of our social lives, so is ceasing to blame. We might excuse, justify, or forgive an offender; or simply let the offense go. We argue that whether and how we relinquish blame depends on many circumstances only partially within our control. Like any norm-governed practice, one can cease to blame appropriately or inappropriately, successfully or unsuccessfully. Success requires that the action be done for the right reasons and secure uptake. We argue that social and material circumstances can compromise one’s ability to successfully cease blaming in the manner one intends. One can fail to relinquish blame and circumstances can also prevent one from doing so. However, uncooperative social and material circumstances do not only arise by chance. Our central argument is that circumstances of oppression can systematically compromise one’s ability and opportunities to effectively perform various ceasing to blame practices. This deprivation is an insidious facet of oppression that is neglected both in theories of oppression and forgiveness but which has significant implications for how we understand the power and purpose of forgiveness.
“Against Elective Forgiveness” in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21.3 (2018)
- It is often claimed both that forgiveness is elective and that forgiveness is something that we do for reasons. However, there is a tension between these two central claims about the nature of forgiveness. If forgiving is something one does for reasons, then, at least sometimes, those reasons may generate a requirement to forgive or withhold forgiveness. While not strictly inconsistent with electivity, the idea of required forgiveness strikes some as antithetical to the spirit of the concept. They argue that forgiveness is essentially elective. In this paper, I dispute these arguments. I argue that the intuitive plausibility of the position diminishes upon reflection and that the best arguments fail to explain why reasons to forgive, unlike most other reasons for action, cannot generate requirements.
“How is Self-Forgiveness Possible?” in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98.1 (2017)
- The idea of self‐forgiveness poses a serious challenge to any philosopher interested in giving a general account of forgiveness. On the one hand, it is an uncontroversial part of our common psychological and moral discourse. On the other, any account of self‐forgiveness is inconsistent with any general account of forgiveness which implies that only the victim of an offense can forgive. To avoid this conclusion, one must either challenge the particular claims that preclude self‐forgiveness or offer an independently plausible account of self‐forgiveness. I deploy both strategies in this article, explaining what self‐forgiveness is and how it is possible.
“In Defense of Non-Reactive Attitudes” in Philosophical Explorations 20.3 (2017)
- Abolitionism is the view that if no one is responsible, then we ought to abandon the reactive attitudes (e.g. resentment, contempt, and guilt). Proponents suggest that reactive attitudes can be replaced in our emotional repertoire by non-reactive analogues (e.g. sadness and disappointment). In this paper, I dispute and reject a common challenge to abolitionism according to which the reactive attitudes are necessary for protesting unfairness and maintaining social harmony. While other abolitionists dispute the empirical basis of this objection, I focus on its implications. I argue that even if non-reactive analogues cannot perform the interpersonal and social functions of reactive attitudes, it does not follow that the losses of abandoning them outweigh the gains of retaining them. The force of the challenge rests on a mistake, identified by John Stuart Mill among others, that is common when evaluating entrenched social practices.
“Reactive Attitudes and Personal Relationships” in Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46.1 (2016)
- Abolitionism is the view that if no one is responsible, we ought to abandon the reactive attitudes. This paper defends abolitionism against the claim, made by P.F. Strawson and others, that abandoning these attitudes precludes the formation and maintenance of valuable personal relationships. These anti-abolitionists claim (a) that one who abandons the reactive attitudes is unable to take personally others’ attitudes and actions regarding her, and (b) that taking personally is necessary for certain valuable relationships. I dispute both claims and argue that this objection exaggerates the role of the reactive attitudes and underestimates the importance of non-reactive moral emotions.
“The Immediate and Delayed Cardiovascular Benefits of Forgiving” in Psychosomatic Medicine 74.7 (2012) [co-authored with B.A. Larsen, R.S. Darby, C.R. Harris, D.K. Nelkin, and N.J.S. Christenfeld]
- Mariam Thalos' A Social Theory of Freedom. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 12 November 2016.
- Invited Lecture and Professional Development Seminar, University of Zurich (2021)
- "Forgiveness as Change," American Philosophical Association: Central Meeting) (2020)
- "The Case for Non-Moral Blame," Workshop in Normative Ethics, University of Arizona (2020)
- "The Special Obligations of Engineers," Society for Philosophy and Technology, Texas A&M University (2019)
- "Oppression, Forgiveness, and Ceasing to Blame," A Theory of Social Punishment, Descartes Lectures, Tilburg University (2018)
- "Nudging and Design for Responsibility," Nudging and Moral Responsibility Workshop, VU Amsterdam (2018)
- "Challenges to the Empirical Study of Forgiveness," European Philosophical Society for the Study of Emotions (2017)
- "National Apology," European Consortium for Political Research General Conference, University of Oslo (2017)
- "Forgiveness as Change," 91st Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association, Edinburgh (2017)
- "Reasons to Forgive," Forgiveness, Apology, and Reconciliation Workshop, University of Manchester (2017)
- "Against Elective Forgiveness," Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, CU Boulder (2016)
- "Forgiveness: Personal and Political," Workshop on Emotions and Conflict, University of Pisa (2016)
- "Get Smart: An Act Consequentialist Account of Moral Responsibility," Workshop on Moral Conversations, University of Oslo (2019)
- Panelist, Fairness and Inequality Session, Workshop on the Ethics and Policy Implications of Algorithms and Big Data, UC San Diego (2019)
- "National Apology," Workshop on Apology and Compensation, Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace (2018)
- "Letting Go of Blame," Workshop on Blame and Forgiveness, University of Oslo (2018)
- "Institutional Forgiveness: Adapting the Practice to Law and Forensic Psychiatry," Center for Ethics, Law, and Mental Health (CELAM), University of Gothenburg (2016)
"Abolitionism and the Value of the Reactive Attitudes"
- I argue for Abolitionism—the view that if no one is responsible, then we ought to abandon the reactive attitudes. There are two powerful reasons, one moral and one epistemological, for this conditional obligation. Just as it is wrong to punish those who are not blameworthy, so it is wrong to blame those who are not blameworthy, all else being equal. Moreover, if we are not responsible, then taking reactive attitudes toward one another gets the facts wrong. When we resent one another, we ascribe properties, abilities, and capacities that the other does not actually have. Against opponents of abolitionism, I argue a) that we are able to prevent reactive attitudes from forming and to eliminate them once they arise and b) that human existence would not be impoverished by their absence.
- Committee: Dana K. Nelkin (chair), John Martin Fischer, David O. Brink, Richard Arneson, Nicholas Christenfeld, Christine Harris.