Journal articles

2017. Reviewing resistances to reconceptualising disability. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 117(3): 321-331 (from Joint Session 2016).

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. (published version | draft)

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. (published version | draft)

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

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. (published version | draft)

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. (published version | draft)


Book chapters

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




  • ‘Plural justifications for public reason’. MANCEPT Workshops: Theories of Public Reason. 11-13 September 2017.
  • ‘Re-examining resistances to reconceptualising disability’
    • Postgraduate Session, The Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and Mind Association. Cardiff University. 8-10 July 2016. (abstract)
    • The Society for Applied Philosophy Annual Conference 2016. Queen’s University, Belfast. 1-3 July 2016.
  • ‘The interests of the never-competent reconsidered’. Ethox Centre, Oxford University. 23 June 2014.
  • ‘Respecting autistics and preventing autism’
    • The Society for Applied Philosophy Annual Conference 2014. St. Anne’s College, Oxford University. 27-29 June 2014.
    • Uehiro Centre, Oxford University. 19 June 2014.
    • Reconceptualising Mental “Illness” Symposium (AISB-50 Conference). Goldsmiths, University of London. 3-4 April 2014. Sponsored by the Society for Applied Philosophy Postgraduate Travel Grant.
  • ‘The problem of considered moral judgements’. Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference. University of Queensland, Brisbane. 7-12 July 2013.
  • ‘Different persons: Linking Personhood and justice in Rawls and Nussbaum’. Pluralism and Conflict Conference. Fatih University, Istanbul. 6-8 June 2013.
  • ‘On thought experiments’. Graduate Seminar Series. National University of Singapore. 27 Mar 2012.