Recent Research Highlights
Princeton University Press, 2019
This book develops and defends a relational interpretation of morality. According to this interpretation, moral demands are owed to other individuals, who have claims against the agent to compliance with them. Interpersonal morality, so conceived, is the domain of what we owe to each other, just insofar as we are each persons with equal moral standing.
The book argues for the advantages of this way of understanding the moral domain; explores some of the important theoretical and practical presuppositions of relational moral duties; and considers the normative implications of understanding morality in relational terms.
The Moral Nexus features a novel defense of the relational approach to morality, which emphasizes the special significance that moral requirements have, both for agents who are deliberating about what to do and for those who stand to be affected by their actions. The book argues that relational moral requirements can be understood to link us to all individuals whose interests render them vulnerable to our agency, regardless of whether they stand in any prior relationship to us. It also offers fresh accounts of some of the moral phenomena that have seemed to resist treatment in relational terms, showing that the relational interpretation is a viable framework for understanding our specific moral obligations to other people.
“Wonderfully clear, absorbingly written, and ambitious, The Moral Nexus is an excellent book on a subject of the first importance in moral philosophy. Although it is unlikely that this book will put an end to arguments and debates about relational morality, it takes every aspect of those debates to a new, higher level. It will be a must-read for people working in moral, legal, and political philosophy.”—Arthur Ripstein, University of Toronto
“The Moral Nexus impressively develops and defends a distinctive view of the essential nature of moral obligation. This ambitious and sophisticated book makes a novel and significant contribution.”—Sarah Stroud, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
“R. Jay Wallace's book brilliantly explores, with nuance and in detail, the reasons embedded in ordinary moral thought that undergird the appeal of a relational interpretation of moral reasoning....a major contribution to moral theory.”—Rahul Kumar, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews; Pea Soup "NDPR Forum" Discussion on this review
“Es gelingt ihm, in einem Paraderitt eine völlig neue Perspektive auf die Domäne der Moral und ihrer spezifischen Normativität zu lenken…. Keine Auseinandersetzung mit diesen grundlegenden Themen der Moral wird in Zukunft ohne seine Theorie auskommen. In diesem Sinne kann sein Buch als wirklich bahnbrechend bezeichnet werden.”—Monika Betzler, Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie
Oxford University Press, 2013
Must we always later regret actions that were wrong for us to perform at the time? Can there ever be good reason to affirm things in the past that we know were unfortunate? This book shows that the standpoint from which we look back on our lives is shaped by our present attachments-to persons, to the projects that imbue our lives with meaning, and to life itself. Through a distinctive “affirmation dynamic”, these attachments commit us to affirming the necessary conditions of their objects. The result is that we are sometimes unable to regret events and circumstances that were originally unjustified or otherwise somehow objectionable.
The book traces these themes through a range of examples. A teenage girl makes an ill-advised decision to conceive a child - but her love for the child once it has been born makes it impossible for her to regret that earlier decision. The painter Paul Gauguin abandons his family to pursue his true artistic calling (and eventual life project) in Tahiti--which means he cannot truly regret his abdication of familial responsibility. The View from Here offers new interpretations of these classic cases, challenging their treatment by Bernard Williams and others. It culminates in an argument to the effect that our attachments inevitably commit us to affirming historical conditions that we cannot regard as worthy of being affirmed--a modest form of nihilism.
“Interesting, careful and occasionally outrageous.”—Thomas Nagel, London Review of Books
“An intelligent and sophisticated treatment of a comparatively neglected topic within moral psychology that deserves to be widely read by anyone with an interest in ethics or political philosophy.”--Alan Thomas, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
“Bristles with insightful and well-parsed observations about practical thought.... Wallace's arguments are measured and unexpectedly convincing.”—Luke Brunning, Analysis
“The View from Here is a book that contains exceptionally deep insights. It offers an illuminating and sharp analysis, it is groundbreaking in its results, and it will be inspiring for those who still believe that philosophy can help us to understand both the reach and the limits of human existence. It is, therefore, a truly exceptional book and bound to shape our future thinking about the intricate embeddedness of the reasons that arise from our attachments.” —Monika Betzler, Ethics
Philosophy Talk episode on “The Logic of Regret”
Some Work in Progress
Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994; paperback edition 1998).
—Chaps. 2 and 3 reprinted in John Martin Fischer, ed., Free Will (London: Routledge, 2005).
—Excerpts from chaps. 2 and 3 reprinted in Michael McKenna and Paul Russell, eds., Free Will and Reactive Attitudes: Perspectives on P. F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment” (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008).
Normativity and the Will. Selected Essays on Moral Psychology and Practical Reason (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006).
The View from Here. On Affirmation, Attachment, and the Limits of Regret (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).
The Moral Nexus (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019).
—German translation, Der moralische Nexus (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2021).
Ethical Issues in Social Science Research, co-edited with Tom Beauchamp, Ruth Faden, and Leroy Walters (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982).
Reason, Emotion and Will (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Company, 1999).
The Practice of Value, by Joseph Raz, with commentaries by Christine Korsgaard, Robert Pippin, and Bernard Williams (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2003).
Reason and Value: Themes from the Moral Philosophy of Joseph Raz, co-edited with Philip Pettit, Samuel Scheffler, and Michael Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004).
Reasons and Recognition. Essays on the Philosophy of T. M. Scanlon, co-edited with Rahul Kumar and Samuel Freeman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).
Papers and Articles
“Privacy and the Use of Data in Epidemiology”, in Wallace et. al., eds., Ethical Issues in Social Science Research (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982). pp. 274-291.
“How to Argue about Practical Reason”, Mind 99 (July 1990), pp. 355-385.
—Reprinted in Wallace, ed., Reason, Emotion and Will.
—Reprinted as Chapter 1 of Wallace, Normativity and the Will.
—Spanish translation, “Cómo Argumentar sobra la Razón Práctica”, Cuadernos de Crítica 53 (UNAM, Mexico, 2006).
—Chinese translation, in Xiangdong Xu, ed., Practical Reason, (Hangzhou: Zhejiang University Press, 2012).
“Virtue, Reason, and Principle”, The Canadian Journal of Philosophy 21 (December 1991), pp. 469-495.
—Reprinted as Chapter 11 of Wallace, Normativity and the Will.
“Reason and Responsibility”, in Garrett Cullity and Berys Gaut, eds., Ethics and Practical Reason (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), pp. 321-344.
“Moral Motivation”, in Edward Craig, ed., The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (London: Routledge, 1998), pp. 522-528.
“Moral Sentiments”, in Craig, ed., The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, pp. 548-550.
“Introduction”, in Wallace, ed., Reason, Emotion and Will (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Company, 1999), pp. xi-xxiv.
“Three Conceptions of Rational Agency”, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2 (1999), pp. 217-242.
—Reprinted as Chapter 2 of Wallace, Normativity and the Will.
—German translation, “Drei Konzeptionen rationalen Handelns”, in Erich Ammereller and Wilhelm Vossenkuhl, eds., Rationale Motivation (Paderborn: Mentis, 2005), pp. 29-56.
—Chinese translation, in Xiangdong Xu, ed., Practical Reason (Hangzhou: Zhejiang University Press, 2012).
“Addiction as Defect of the Will: Some Philosophical Reflections”, Law and Philosophy 18 (1999), pp. 621-654.
—Reprinted in Gary Watson, ed., Free Will, Second Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 424-452.
“Autonomie, Charakter, und praktische Vernunft: Überlegungen am Beispiel des Utilitarismus”, Analyse und Kritik 21 (1999), pp. 213-230.
“An Anti-Philosophy of the Emotions?”, Review essay on Michael Stocker, with Elizabeth Hegeman, Valuing Emotions, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (2000), pp. 469-477.
“Moral Responsibility and the Practical Point of View”, in Ton van den Beld, ed., Moral Responsibility and Ontology (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000), pp. 25-47.
“Caring, Reflexivity, and the Structure of Volition”, in Monika Betzler and Barbara Guckes, eds., Autonomes Handeln (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2000), pp. 213-234.
“Moralische Gründe—aus der Sicht des Handelnden”, Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung 55 (2001), pp. 3-23.
“Moral Judgment and Moral Motivation” (critical response to Sigrun Svavarsdottir’s “Moral Cognitivism and Moral Motivation”), Brown Electronic Article Review Service, Jamie Dreier and David Estlund, editors, posted 8/10/2001, URL = http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Philosophy/bears/homepage.html
“Normativity, Commitment, and Instrumental Reason”, Philosophers’ Imprint 1, no. 3 (December 2001), URL = http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.3521354.0001.004
—Reprinted as Chapter 5 of Wallace, Normativity and the Will.
—German translation, “Normativität, Festlegung und instrumentelle Vernunft”, in Christoph Halbig and Tim Henning, eds., Die neue Kritik der instrumentellen Vernunft (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2012), pp. 103-152.
“Practical Reasoning”, in Neil J. Smelser and Paul B. Baltes, eds., International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Oxford: Elsevier Science, 2001).
“Scanlon’s Contractualism”, contribution to a Symposium on T. M. Scanlon’s What We Owe to Each Other (with a reply by Scanlon), Ethics 112 (April 2002), pp. 429-470.
—Reprinted as Chapter 12 of Wallace, Normativity and the Will.
(b) “Replies” (to four commentators), Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (May 2002), pp. 707-727.
“Introduction”, in Wallace, ed., The Practice of Value (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2003), pp. 1-12.
“Promises and Practices Revisited”, co-authored with Niko Kolodny, Philosophy & Public Affairs 31 (2003), pp. 119-154.
“Practical Reason”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/practical-reason/
“Explanation, Deliberation, and Reasons”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (2003), pp. 429-435.
“The Rightness of Acts and the Goodness of Lives”, in R. Jay Wallace, Philip Pettit, Samuel Scheffler, and Michael Smith, eds., Reason and Value: Themes from the Moral Philosophy of Joseph Raz (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004), pp. 385-411.
—Reprinted as Chapter 13 of Wallace, Normativity and the Will.
“Normativity and the Will”, in John Hyman and Helen Steward, eds., Agency and Action (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 195-216.
“Moral Psychology”, in Frank Jackson and Michael Smith, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
“Vernunft, praktische”, in Stefan Gosepath, Wilfried Hinsch, and Beate Rössler, eds., Handbuch der politischen Philosophie und Sozialphilosophie (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008), pp. 1419-1425.
“Moral Motivation”, in James Dreier, ed., Contemporary Debates in Moral Theory (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005).
“Ressentiment, Value, and Self-Vindication: Making Sense of Nietzsche’s Slave Revolt”, in Brian Leiter and Neil Sinhababu, eds., Nietzsche and Morality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 110-137.
“Promises”, Encyclopedia of Philosophy, second edition (New York: Macmillan Reference, 2006).
“Introduction”, in Wallace, Normativity and the Will (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006), pp. 1-12.
“Postscript” to “Normativity, Commitment, and Instrumental Reason”, in Wallace, Normativity and the Will (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006), pp. 111-120.
—Includes material published as “Response to Raz” in the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, URL = http://www.jesp.org 1 (December 2005).
“Moral Reasons and Moral Fetishes: Rationalists and Anti-Rationalists on Moral Motivation”, in Wallace, Normativity and the Will (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006), pp. 322-342.
“Constructing Normativity”, Philosophical Topics 32 (Spring and Fall 2004), pp. 451-476.
“The Argument from Resentment”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (2007), pp. 295-318.
“Reasons, Relations, and Commands: Reflections on Darwall”, Ethics 118 (2007), pp. 25-36.
“The Publicity of Reasons”, Philosophical Perspectives 23 (2009), pp. 471-497.
“Dispassionate Opprobrium. On Blame and the Reactive Sentiments”, in R. Jay Wallace, Rahul Kumar, and Samuel Freeman, eds., Reasons and Recognition. Essays on the Philosophy of T. M. Scanlon (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 348-372.
“'Ought', Reasons, and Vice: A Comment on Judith Jarvis Thomson’s Normativity”, Philosophical Studies 154 (2011), pp. 451-463.
“Konzeptionen der Normativität: Einige grundlegende philosophische Fragen”, in Rainer Forst and Klaus Günther, eds., Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen (Frankfurt a.M.: Campus Verlag, 2011), pp. 33-56.
“Hypocrisy, Moral Address, and the Equal Standing of Persons”, Philosophy & Public Affairs 38 (2010), pp. 307-341.
“Justification, Regret, and Moral Complaint: Looking Forward and Looking Backward on (and in) Human Life”, in Ulrike Heuer and Gerald Lang, eds., Luck, Value and Commitment: Themes from the Ethics of Bernard Williams (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 163-192.
“Reasons, Values, and Agent-Relativity”, dialectica 64 (2010), pp. 503-528.
“Constructivism about Normativity: Some Pitfalls”, in James Lenman and Yonatan Shemmer, eds., Constructivism in Practical Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 18-39.
“Duties of Love”, The Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 86 (2012), pp. 175-198.
“The Deontic Structure of Morality”, in David Bakhurst, Brad Hooker, and Margaret Olivia Little, eds., Thinking about Reasons. Essays in Honour of Jonathan Dancy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 137-167.
“Reasons, Policies, and the Real Self. Bratman on Identification”, in Manuel Vargas and Gideon Yaffe, eds., Rational and Social Agency. Essays on the Philosophy of Michael Bratman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 106-127.
“Rightness and Responsibility”, in D. Justin Coates and Neal A. Tognazzini, eds., Blame. Its Nature and Norms (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 224-243.
—Shorter and modified version in Axel Honneth and Gunnar Hindrichs, eds., Freiheit. Stuttgarter Hegel Kongress 2011 (Frankfurt a.M.: Vittorio Klostermann, 2013), pp. 213-231.
“Moral Subjectivism”, in Alex Byrne, Joshua Cohen, Gideon Rosen, and Seana Shiffrin, eds., The Norton Introduction to Philosophy (New York: W. W. Norton, 2015), pp. 657-666.
“The Fugitive Thought. Blackburn on Reasons”, in Robert Johnson and Michael Smith, eds., Passions and Projections. Themes from the Philosophy of Simon Blackburn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 246-266.
“Emotions and Relationships: On a Theme from Strawson”, in David Shoemaker and Neal A. Tognazzini, eds., Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility 2 (2014), pp. 119-42.
“Replies to Holroyd, Jones, and Lenman”, contribution to a symposium on The View from Here, Journal of Applied Philosophy 34 (2017), pp. 429-442.
“Moral Address: What It Is, Why It Matters”, in D. Justin Coates and Neal A. Tognazzini, eds., Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility 5 (2019), pp. 88-109.
“Requirements of Reason”, in Ruth Chang and Kurt Sylvan, eds., The Routledge Handbook of Practical Reason (New York: Routledge, 2021), pp. 405-415.
“Discretionary Moral Duties”, in Mark C. Timmons, ed., Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 9 (2019), pp. 50-72.
“Trust, Anger, Resentment, Forgiveness: On Blame and Its Reasons”, European Journal of Philosophy 27 (2019), pp. 537-51.
“Mattering, Value, and Our Obligations to the Animals”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (forthcoming).
“Comment on Kwong-loi Shun, ‘Anger, Compassion, and the Distinction between First and Third Person’”, Australasian Philosophical Review (forthcoming).
“Responsibility and Reactive Attitudes”, The Oxford Handbook of Moral Responsibility, Dana Nelkin and Derk Pereboom, eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
“Recognition and the Moral Nexus”, European Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming).
Review of Mark Johnson, The Body in the Mind, in Philosophical Books 29 (October 1988), pp. 225-227.
Review of Owen Flanagan and Amélie Oksenberg Rorty, eds., Identity, Character, and Morality, in Ethics 106 (January 1996), pp. 451-452.
Review of Richard Joyce, The Myth of Morality, in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2004.11.04, URL = http://ndpr.icaap.org/content/archives/2003/11/wallace-joyce.html
Review Article on Sarah Buss and Lee Overton, eds., Contours of Agency. Essays on Themes from Harry Frankfurt, Ethics 114 (July 2004), pp. 810-815.