Toby Handfield is an Associate Professor of Philosophy in the School of Philosophical, Historical, and International Studies at Monash University.
A complete list of published papers
To the extent that universalisability is a nice idea, it works well for the classic social dilemma: the prisoners' dilemma (or its multi-player equivalent, the tragedy of the commons). In such cases, there is one "cooperative" action which, if everyone performed it, would be best for the collective. But it is always better for each individual to abstain from cooperating. In such cases, we cannot rationally will that everyone abstain: that would defeat our rational aims. So there is a duty to cooperate.
Although collectives manage to do something that resembles the functional package of agency overall, they achieve this without any clear, isolatable analogue of beliefs, intentions, and the like. So we cannot identify any analogous failure of those "organs", even if we are confident that the package as a whole has failed. Collectives can be agents, and they can be subject to failures of agency. But their failures may not be classifiable as either ignorance or weakness of will.
… the speaker in a research presentation can expect to benefit more than the audience. The idea is somehow that the audience is there to ask questions which will help the speaker sharpen the argument, that the presentation will be an opportunity for enhancing the prestige of the speaker and generally satisfying his or her ego. All good for the speaker, to be sure; but the audience won't really learn much.
Deliberate extinction of the species would be the morally heroic option, if ...
Why are people so darn cooperative? Among economists, a popular answer has been: social norms, enforced by peer punishment. In a new paper, we devised an experiment to investigate the dark side of this mechanism. Social norms can be destructive, and punishment can lock societies into bad norms...
Voorhoeve and Fleurbaey have erred in their suggestion that this hybrid currency is the appropriate object of distributive concern.
Our hunch is that the extreme parameters used in Newcomb's original case are bad news for the reliability of the intuitions it generates.
… if anything, Demaree-Cotton is overestimating the susceptibility of moral intuition to framing effects.
... there is a palpable change in the atmosphere in the class. One can see the students sit a little more erect in their seats, their attention sharpened
… it might be useful, however, for students thinking about pursuing an academic career to see some actual data on how hard it is to get publications.
If we knew that the human species would not exist for very long after our own deaths, should it change how we live our lives now?
My experiments with making short videos to provide students with feedback on their written work.
Have our classrooms already “flipped”?
When giving a paper at a conference, or at a research seminar, should the work presented be complete or in progress?