Click on individual entries for more information and to download papers. You can also download my papers from PhilPapers and

2023. The legitimate targets of political resistance. Philosophers’ Imprint 23(1)(8): 1-17.

Abstract: Within public discourse, activists are often criticised for directing their acts of political resistance against this or that specific target. Underlying these criticisms appears to be a strongly held – though underarticulated – intuitive moral judgement that some targets are legitimate whereas others are not. Little philosophical attention has been paid to this issue. My primary aim is to address this neglect. I specify a central part of this intuitive judgement – centring on persons and activities – and argue that there is a principled way of differentiating between legitimate and illegitimate targets. The specification relies on a novel conception of political resistance, which focuses on its defensive – rather than communicative – aspect. I then extend the idea of forfeiture to argue that acts of political resistance are correctly directed when they are aimed at those activities of liable persons that cause injustice. My discussions partly vindicate our intuitive judgements about several controversial cases of political resistance.[PDF][Link]

2023. Environmental activism and the fairness of costs argument for uncivil disobedience. Journal of the American Philosophical Association. Co-authored with Ten-Herng Lai.

Abstract: Social movements often impose nontrivial costs on others against their wills. Civil disobedience is no exception. How can social movements in general, and civil disobedience in particular, be justifiable despite this apparent wrong-making feature? We examine an intuitively plausible account – it is fair that everyone should bear the burdens of tackling injustice. We extend this fairness-based argument for civil disobedience to defend some acts of uncivil disobedience. Focusing on uncivil environmental activism – such as ecotage (sabotage with the aim of protecting the environment) – we argue that some acts of uncivil disobedience can be morally superior to their civil counterparts, when and because such acts target people who are responsible for environmental threats. Indeed, insofar as some acts of uncivil disobedience can more accurately target responsible people, they can better satisfy the demands of fairness compared to their civil counterparts. In some circumstances, our argument may require activists to engage in uncivil disobedience even when civil disobedience is available.[PDF][Link]

2022. Clarifying our duties to resist. Inquiry.

Abstract: According to a prominent argument, citizens in unjust societies have a duty to resist injustice. The moral and political principles that ground the duty to obey the law in just or nearly just conditions, also ground the duty to resist in unjust conditions. This argument is often applied to a variety of unjust conditions. In this essay, I critically examine this argument, focusing on conditions involving institutionally entrenched and socially normalised injustice. In such conditions, the issue of citizens’ duties to resist is complicated. I conclude by considering how my discussions may clarify a contemporary problem about engaging in resistance to aid potential migrants who have been turned away by states in accordance with widely accepted rules.[PDF][Link]

2022. Review of The Minority Body, by Elizabeth Barnes. Mind 131(522): 650-659. Invited contribution.

Abstract: I review Elizabeth Barnes’ book.[PDF][Link]

2021. Differentiating disobedients. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 20(2): 119-143.

Abstract: Conscientious disobedients often face the demand to differentiate themselves from criminals whose law-breaking actions are not undergirded by conscientious convictions. Within public and philosophical discourse, conscientious disobedients are often criticised on the basis that their actions render them no different from criminals. I provide a qualified defence of disobedients in this essay. I argue that the differentiation demand can be satisfied even by disobedients who engage in what are typically regarded as radical acts of disobedience. In practical terms, this means that even disobedients who engage in actions such as arson, rioting, vandalism or vigilantism can also successfully differentiate themselves from criminals. [PDF][Link]

2020. Transforming problematic commemorations through vandalism. Journal of Global Ethics. Invited contribution.

Abstract: In recent years, progressive activists around the world have fought to remove problematic commemorations – typically, monuments commemorating and honoring individuals responsible for injustice, or even unjust events. Many of these problematic commemorations are vandalized before they are eventually removed. In this essay, I consider how the vandalism of such commemoration can transform the public honoring of a target, to a public repudiation or humiliation of that target. I discuss four obstacles to realizing the transformative potential of vandalism, and how they may be mitigated or overcome. [PDF][Link]

2020. Vandalising tainted commemorations. Philosophy & Public Affairs 48(2): 185-216. Winner of APA’s 2022 Gregory Kavka/University of California, Irvine Prize in Political Philosophy.

– Featured on (7 December 2020).
– Winner of the 2022 Gregory Kavka/University of California, Irvine Prize in Political Philosophy.
Abstract: What should we do about “tainted” public commemorations? Recent events have highlighted the urgency of reaching a consensus on this question. However, existing discussions appear to be dominated by two naïve opposing views – to remove or preserve them. My aims in this essay are two-fold. First, I argue that the two views are not naïve, but undergirded by concerns with securing self-respect and with the character of our engagement with the past. Second, I offer a qualified defence of vandalising tainted commemorations. The defence comprises two parts. I consider two prominent suggestions – to install counter-commemorations and to add contextualising plaques – and argue that they are typically beset with difficulties. I then argue that in some circumstances, constrained vandalism is a response to tainted commemorations which effectively adjudicates the demands of the two opposing views. [PDF][Link]

2019. Effectiveness and ecumenicity. Journal of Moral Philosophy 16(5): 590-612.

Abstract: Effective altruism is purportedly ecumenical towards different moral views, charitable causes, and evidentiary methods. I argue that effective altruists’ criticisms of purportedly less effective charities are inconsistent with their commitment to ecumenicity. Individuals may justifiably support charities other than those recommended by effective altruism. If effective altruists take their commitment to ecumenicity seriously, they will have to revise their criticisms of many of these charities.[PDF][Link]

2018. Disabilities are also legitimately medically interesting constraints on legitimate interests. Mind 127(508): 977-1002. Runner up for MIND Graduate Essay Prize 2018.

– Runner-up for Mind Graduate Essay Prize 2018.
Abstract: What is it for something to be a disability? Elizabeth Barnes, focusing on physical disabilities, argues that disability is a social category. It depends on the rules undergirding the judgements of the disability rights movement(s). Barnes’ account may strike many as implausible. I articulate the unease, in the form of three worries about Barnes’ account. It does not fully explain why the disability rights movement is constituted in such a way that it only picks out paradigmatic disability traits, nor why only the traits identified by the movement as constituting experiences of social and political constraint count as disability. It also leaves out the contribution of people other than disability activists, to the definition of disability. I develop Barnes’ account. On my account, a person is disabled if she is in some state which is constitutive of some constraint on her legitimate interests. This state must be the subject of legitimate medical interest, and be picked out by the disability rights movement(s) as among the traits they are seeking to promote progress and change for. My account addresses the worries about Barnes’ account. It is also able to include all disabilities, rather than only physical ones. [PDF][Link]

2018. Public reason, compromise within consensus, and legitimacy. In Manuel Knoll, Stephen Snyder & Nurdane Şimşek (eds.), New Perspectives on Distributive Justice: Deep Disagreements, Pluralism, and the Problem of Consensus. De Gruyter Press.

Abstract: A central idea of public reason liberalism is that the exercise of political power is legitimate when supported only by reasons which all citizens accept. Public reason serves as a necessary standard for evaluating the legitimacy of political decisions. In this paper, I examine the directive to employ public reason, from citizens’ perspective. I suggest that employing public reason potentially involves them engaging in different types of compromise. I consider how acknowledging these compromises sheds light on public reason liberalism. Public reason may not offer a necessary standard for evaluating the legitimacy of decisions, and the evaluation it offers may not have great weight relative to other moral and political considerations. [PDF][Link]

2017. Reviewing resistances to reconceptualising disability. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 117(3): 321-331. Selected for the 2017 Postgraduate Session (Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association)

– Selected for the 2017 Postgraduate Session (Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association).
Abstract: I attempt to adjudicate the disagreement between those who seek to reconceptualise disability as mere-difference, and their opponents. I do so by reviewing a central conviction motivating the resistance, concerning the relationship between disability and well-being. I argue that the conviction depends on further considerations about the costs and extent of change involved in accommodating individuals with a particular disability trait. I conclude by considering three payoffs of this clarification. [PDF][Link]

2016. An incomplete inclusion of non-cooperators in a Rawlsian theory of justice. Res Philosophica 93(4): 893-920.

Abstract: John Rawls’s use of the “fully cooperating assumption” has been criticized for hindering attempts to address the needs of disabled individuals, or non-cooperators. In response, philosophers sympathetic to Rawls’s project have extended his theory. I assess one such extension by Cynthia Stark, that proposes dropping Rawls’s assumption in the constitutional stage (of his four-stage sequence), and address the needs of non-cooperators via the social minimum. I defend Stark’s proposal against criticisms by Sophia Wong, Christie Hartley, and Elizabeth Edenberg and Marilyn Friedman. Nevertheless, I argue that Stark’s proposal is crucially incomplete. Her formulation of the social minimum lacks accompanying criteria with which the adequacy of the provisions for non-cooperators may be assessed. Despite initial appearances, Stark’s proposal does not fully address the needs of non-cooperators. I conclude by considering two payoffs of identifying this lack of criteria. [PDF][Link]

2016. Clarifying the best interests standard: The elaborative and enumerative strategies in public policy-making. Journal of Medical Ethics 42: 542-549. Co-authored with Michael Dunn and Jacqueline Chin

Abstract: One recurring criticism of the best interests standard concerns its vagueness, and thus the inadequate guidance it offers to care providers. The lack of an agreed definition of ‘best interests’, together with the fact that several suggested considerations adopted in legislation or professional guidelines for doctors do not obviously apply across different groups of persons, result in decisions being made in murky waters. In response, bioethicists have attempted to specify the best interests standard, to reduce the indeterminacy surrounding medical decisions. In this paper, we discuss the bioethicists’ response in relation to the state’s possible role in clarifying the best interests standard. We identify and characterise two clarificatory strategies employed by bioethicists —elaborative and enumerative—and argue that the state should adopt the latter. Beyond the practical difficulties of the former strategy, a state adoption of it would inevitably be prejudicial in a pluralistic society. Given the gravity of best interests decisions, and the delicate task of respecting citizens with different understandings of best interests, only the enumerative strategy is viable. We argue that this does not commit the state to silence in providing guidance to and supporting healthcare providers, nor does it facilitate the abuse of the vulnerable. Finally, we address two methodological worries about adopting this approach at the state level. The adoption of the enumerative strategy is not defeatist in attitude, nor does it eventually collapse into (a form of) the elaborative strategy. [PDF][Link]

2015. Accommodating autistics and treating autism: Can we have both? Bioethics 29(8): 564-572.

Abstract: One of the central claims of the neurodiversity movement is that society should accommodate the needs of autistics, rather than try to treat autism. People have variously tried to reject this accommodation thesis as applicable to all autistics. One instance is Pier Jaarsma and Stellan Welin, who argue that the thesis should apply to some but not all autistics. They do so via separating autistics into high- and low-functioning, on the basis of IQ and social effectiveness or functionings. I reject their grounds for separating autistics. IQ is an irrelevant basis for separating autistics. Charitably rendering it as referring to more general capacities still leaves us mistaken about the roles they play in supporting the accommodation thesis. The appeal to social effectiveness or functionings relies on standards that are inapplicable to autistics, and which risks being deaf to the point of their claims. I then consider if their remaining argument concerning autistic culture may succeed independently of the line they draw. I argue that construing autistics’ claims as beginning from culture mistakes their status, and may even detract from their aims. Via my discussion of Jaarsma and Welin, I hope to point to why the more general strategy of separating autistics, in response to the accommodation thesis, does not fully succeed. Finally, I sketch some directions for future discussions, arguing that we should instead shift our attention to consider another set of questions concerning the costs and extent of change required to accommodate all autistics. [PDF][Link]