The Philosopher as Moral Activist : A Call for Ethical Caution in Publication


Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


It is normal to think that philosophers’ first dedication is to the truth. Publishers and writers consider ideas and papers according to criteria such as originality, eloquence, interestingness, soundness, and plausibility. I suggest that moral consequence should play a greater role in our choices to publish when serious harm is at stake. One’s credence in a particular idea should be weighed against the potential consequences of the publication of one’s ideas both if one turns out to be right and if one turns out to be wrong. This activist approach to philosophical writing combines moral concern with epistemic humility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-75
Number of pages30
JournalEssays in Philosophy
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

I would like to give special thanks to Derek Baker, Andrea Sauchelli, Merily Salura, and the anonymous reviewers of this essay for their useful notes and feedback. I also give thanks to some various (and mostly anonymous) philosophers online for their helpful thoughts, Ramona Ilea for her patience and helpfulness as the editor, and the Hong Kong Research Grants Council for their support.


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