Prof. McPherson's personal website
The heart of my research concerns foundational philosophical questions about ethics. One central such question is whether it can be an objective fact that an action is right (or wrong). The existence of such facts can seem to be a crucial presupposition of taking our own lives and decisions seriously. For example, we are unlikely to feel satisfied with the idea that disagreement over contested ethical questions is merely a matter of differing tastes or cultural practices. However, the idea that there are objective facts about right and wrong can appear naïve and hard to square with an informed conception of the world. Drawing on resources from the theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and the philosophies of mind and language, my work examines questions like: Does it even make sense to ask whether there are ethical facts? If so, what might such facts be like? Can we have justified beliefs or theories about which acts are right and wrong, and if so, how? I also spend significant time thinking about substantive questions in ethics, including the ethics of our relationships to non-human animals, and the ethical significance of climate change.
Before coming to OSU, I have taught at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Virginia Tech. I was a research fellow with the Many Moral Rationalisms project at the University of Melbourne.
- “Moral Attitudes for Non-cognitivists” (with Gunnar Björnsson), Mind published online, forthcoming in print
- “The Methodological Irrelevance of Reflective Equilibrium,” The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophical Methods (Ed. Christopher Daly, Palgrave), 2015
- “Deliberative Indispensability and Epistemic Justification” (with David Plunkett), Oxford Studies in Metaethics Vol. 10 (Ed. Russ Shafer-Landau), 2015
- “What is at Stake in Debates among Normative Realists?” Noûs 49(1), 2015
- “A Case for Ethical Veganism,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 11(6), 2014
- “Unifying Moral Methodology,” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93(4), December 2012
- “Ethical Non-naturalism and the Metaphysics of Supervenience,” Oxford Studies in Metaethics Vol. 7, (Ed. Russ Shafer-Landau) July 2012
- “Against Quietist Normative Realism,” Philosophical Studies 154(2), June 2011
- “Moorean Arguments and Moral Revisionism,” Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 3(1), June 2009
- “Metaethics and the Autonomy of Morality,” Philosophers’ Imprint 8(6), July 2008