I received my PhD from the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge in 2014. Since then, I have been a post-doctoral fellowship at the Polonsky Academy of Advanced Study at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. I have also been a visiting researcher and lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. To download my CV, click here.
My main areas of research are ethics, both normative and applied, and the philosophy of technology.
In normative ethics, I work primarily on supererogation. Supererogatory actions are those that go above and beyond the call of duty. In my work on supererogation, I examine both the conditions that an act must meet to be counted as supererogatory as well as the value of including this class of normative action in our ethical theories. Often overlooked in the traditional ethical discussions of liars, murderers, promise-breakers and thieves, I focus on the wonderfully positive side of our moral lives and encourage us all to take more seriously those modest gift-givers, blood-donors, saints and heroes who similarly populate our moral world.
My current project is in applied ethics and the philosophy of technology, focusing on the ethics of virtual objects, images and worlds. My research demonstrates that the ethical problems raised by these technologies require more than the simple application of our traditional ethics, demanding
he creation of new principles to govern behaviour or even changes to our conceptual framework. Take new technology of creating virtual images. These have have allowed for the production of virtual child pornography: images that are visually indistinguishable from photographic child pornography and yet do not involve the sexual abuse of any child to create. As such the traditional reason for the prohibition of child pornography—the sexual abuse of depicted children—appears not to apply. My work tackles this head on and provides a technically informed analysis of the creation of such images. For example, in ‘What is Wrong with Doctored Child Pornography’ (under review), I propose a consent-based argument that explains how certain kinds of virtual child pornography wrong individual children, even in the absence of sexual abuse. My article ‘Child Pornography in the Digital Age: A Conceptual Muddle’ forthcoming in Pornography: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, (Peter Lang, 2018) reveals the power of technological change to demand conceptual change. I demonstrate how the age of digital photography has radically changed the very nature of what it is to be an image; how our current inability to identify the genesis of an image can alter whether an image is of a child; and, drawing on Michael Rea’s definition of pornography, how new forms of information, such as metadata, can recontextualise images as child pornography. I have also work in progress addressing the possibility of using virtual reality experiences to enhance us morally and on realism and sense of self in virtual worlds.
Continuing my work in the ethics and philosophy of technology, in my next project I plan to tackle the ethics of robotic entities and artificial intelligences. My research will address three core issues: (1) the development of ethical codes for artificial agents; (2) the normative considerations of human-robot interactions (HRI); and (3) the effect of these technologies on our core values, such as trust, care, and respect. I have a paper in progress exploring these themes and mapping the terrain. I am currently drafting an outline of the book that will be the culmination of this project: Robot Relationships: A Guide to Getting Along After the Fourth Revolution.
For more, see the section on my current research.