I share with Hume a commitment to the view that norms and values must be, in some way, grounded in our sentiments.
My Research Interests
I have always been interested in exploring how Humeans can make sense of moral, prudential and other norms. When I say I’m a Humean, I mean that I share with Hume a commitment to the view that norms and values must be, in some way, grounded in our sentiments (rather than in pure principles of reason or special facts about the world). The key to making sense of normative notions like reasons, oughts, and values (on my view), is to see how our sentiments form stable patterns that constitute justifications for us. This is quite an abstract topic that I pursue in various papers I have written on constructivism, moral epistemology, and methodology in ethics.
I’m also interested in less abstract questions. These days my more practical work explores the ways in which philosophy and psychology can both contribute to the study of well-being and virtue. In my book, The Reflective Life: Living Wisely With Our Limits (Oxford 2008), I examine how we ought to think about practical wisdom and living a good life given what we now know about ourselves from empirical psychology. Most recently, I am developing a theory of well-being that identifies well-being with value fulfillment. I want to show how such a theory explains the normativity of well-being and how it helps us make sense of the science of well-being that has become so popular.