I am an academic philosopher. My research focuses on theories of responsibility, and in particular on how these theories inform and are informed by ethical, political and legal debate.
In 2007 I obtained my PhD from the University of Adelaide in Australia with a dissertation in philosophy of law entitled “Responsibility, Compensation and Accident Law Reform“. My dissertation advanced two main arguments. First, it defended no-fault systems from two related allegations: one, that they under- and over-compensate; and two, that they let people get away without having to properly take responsibility for what they have done. Second, it also argued that no-fault systems are properly conceived of not as accident law systems per se but rather as a form of social welfare. Since obtaining my PhD I have worked full-time as a researcher in the area of neurolaw with a specific focus on the topic of responsibility.
From late 2007 until early 2011 I worked solely at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands on a research project entitled “The Brain and The Law“. In this project I argued that we must adopt a broadly capacitarian framework in order to understand how neuroscience is relevant to legal responsibility adjudications, and that responsibility must be treated not as a single, unitary and generic concept but rather as a group of concepts with related variegated legal questions. My paper “On the Relevance of Neuroscience to Criminal Responsibility” provides a good overview of the position that I developed in this project. Since mid-2011 I divide my time between The Netherlands and Australia while working on two closely related projects.
In The Netherlands I am based in the Philosophy Department at Delft University of Technology where I run the NWO-funded project “Enhancing Responsibility: the effects of cognitive enhancement on moral and legal responsibility” which at a practical level addresses two questions. One, may some people, in virtue of what is at stake in the performance of their professional roles, be legitimately expected to cognitively enhance themselves – even if they would rather not do so – and would their failure to do this constitute negligence or even recklessness? Two, once a person becomes cognitively enhanced, may they be then legitimately expected to observe a higher standard of care than non cognitively enhanced counterparts, and should their breaches of such higher standards attract regulatory, civil and criminal sanctions? At a conceptual level, I expect that answers to these questions will help me to illuminate the limits of the capacitarian idea that responsibility tracks mental capacity. See my recent presentation in Bochum about the Enhancing Responsibility project here.
In Australia I am based in the Philosophy Department at Macquarie University in Sydney, where I work on a research project entitled “Reappraising the Capacitarian Foundation of Neurolaw” which has two main components. The first component investigates whether capacitarian intuitions about the relationship between mental capacity and responsibility â€“ namely, that responsibility tracks (mental) capacity â€“ still obtain in contexts where mental capacity has been restored or enhanced. The second component involves the development of an Australian Neurolaw Database that catalogues and appraises how neuroscience is used in legal settings in Australia.