Moral and Political Philosophy

  1. Against the Autonomy Argument for Mandatory GMO Labelling
    • Public Affairs Quarterly (2018), 32(2): 85-117
  2. Climate-related insecurity, loss and damage
    • Ethics, Policy & Envrionment (2017), 20(2): 184-194
  3. Health Security and Risk Aversion
    • Bioethics (2016), 30(7): 479-489
  4. The Concept of Security, Liberty, Fear and the State
    • Security: Dialogue across disciplines, (2015) edited by P. Bourbeau. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge): 22-44 (PDF)
  5. Obesity, Liberty, and Public Health Emergencies
  6. Live liver donation, ethics and practitioners
    • Journal of Medical Ethics (2014), 40(3): 157-162 (w/ E. Thomas, S. Bramhall & H. Draper) (PDF)
  7. The Concept of Security
    • Ethics and Security Aspects of Infectious Disease Control: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2012), ed. M.J. Selgelid & C. Enemark. (Ashgate: Burlington): 7-26 (PDF)
    • Reprinted in Security Ethics (2015), ed. K. Hadjimatheou, J. Guelke & T. Sorell. (Ashgate: Burlington) (Link)

Health Politics and Policy

  1. The limits of global health diplomacy: Taiwan’s observer status at the world health assembly
    • Globalization and Health (2014), 10: 71-80 (w/ K. Lee) (PDF)
  2. The Securitisation of Infectious Disease: International Norms and Domestic Politics in Asia
    • Review of International Studies (2011), 37(1): 141-166 (w/ M. Curley) (PDF)
    • Reprinted in Health Security and Governance (2012), ed. N. Thomas. (Routledge: London). (Link)
  3. Securitization of infectious diseases in Vietnam: the cases of HIV and avian influenza
    • Health Policy and Planning (2010), 25(6): 467-475 (PDF)

Book Reviews/Commentaries

Working Papers

Please do not cite without permission

  • Security and Wellbeing
    • Abstract: What is the relationship between the security of personal goods and individual wellbeing? The standard answer is that security of personal goods is relevant to wellbeing only in so far as grave risks may cause fear and anxiety. We might, however, be tempted by the idea that security directly contributes to individual wellbeing, independent of whether individuals are aware of the risks they face. I investigate four potential ways in which security might directly contribute to individual wellbeing: (i) it satisfies a preference, (ii) it is neccessary to be a "planning agent", (iii) it is constitutive of an individual’s capabilities, and (iv) it is a modally-robust good. Ultimately, I argue that giving in to this temptation would be a mistake, and that the connection between security and wellbeing is wholly mediated by an individual’s beliefs.
  • Secure Plans
    • Abstract: In this paper I argue that the security of basic goods enables agents like us to engage in rational deliberation. I define the security of a good as the probability of realizing that good regardless of which act an agent performs within their set of alternatives. If a good is sufficiently secure then we are practically justified in treating that good as a background condition in our deliberation. This is useful, in so far as it allows us to treat that good as independent of our present deliberation, but it is especially useful if that good is a necessary means to some future course of action. Possessing the practical justification for treating some goods and future actions as independent of our current actions enables agents like us to engage in approximately rational instrumental reasoning.
  • Healthcare and Planning
    • Abstract: Reliable access to healthcare enables individuals to rationally form and revise their life plans, and this provides an additional reason to ensure universal access to catastrophic healthcare. I argue for this conclusion in four parts. First, I introduce the concept of security in the context of individual health: roughly understood as the probability of enjoying at least that many years of health-adjusted life. Second, I argue that the security of initial increments of healthy life (i.e. additional years of minimally decent health) is centrally important to our capacity to rationally form and pursue our life plans.
  • Prioritarianism and Dual-Use Research
    • Abstract: Some scientific research involves a grave risk of harm; either to human subjects or humanity as a whole (e.g. "gain-of-function" research on infectious diseases, geo-engineering field trials, gene drives). Standardly, it is claimed that a particular experiment ought to occur only if, inter alia, the expected benefits of that experiment outweigh the expected harms. Whilst this principle is widely deployed to both support and undermine the case for risky research, it elides an important consideration: that experiments with the same expected value can involve wildly different distributions of probability over increments of harm. In this paper, I argue that security – understood roughly as lower probabilistic variance over outcomes - is a distinctly important consideration in our judgements about the permissibility of risky research, because it discharges prioritarian duties to ex ante possible agents. If this argument is successful, then discussions of the risks and benefits of research should move beyond mere expectations, and towards considering other features of the distribution of probability over the outcomes.
  • Scientific Externalities (w/ Scott Tanona)
    • Abstract: Many instances of scientific research impose risks of harm, not just on participants and scientists, but also on third-parties. The prevailing approach to these kinds of risks has been to create expert-driven risk mitigation process (e.g. IBCs, DURC boards and the NSABB), with little or no input from the broader public. Scholars and policy activists have criticized these risk mitigation processes as: (i) insufficiently sensitive to the values of the affected parties, and (ii) disrespectful to the right of affected parties to decide what risks they will accept. One prominent solution to these challenges has been to try to extend the principle, familiar in participant research ethics, that the imposition of a risk is justified only if the affected party provides their informed consent. In this paper, we show that the consent approach faces two fundamental problems. First, it is unlikely to meet the epistemic challenge because the problems of ensuring informed consent are magnified by the distributed, deeply uncertain and temporally extended nature of scientific externalities. Second, it is unclear how it meets the sovereignty challenge in the context of disagreement about risks which can only be eliminated for dissenting individuals by preventing the production of the research altogether. Instead, we argued that framing these risks as "externalities" offers another way. Instead of thinking about these risks as a problem of consent, we begin to see them as a problem of market failure. This may help us formulate solutions to the epistemic and sovereignty challenges which are practically implementable for very large populations, sensitive to the fact of disagreement, and focused on the role of institutions and incentives.