I am a PhD student in philosophy, in my sixth year at McGill University, working under the supervision of Professors Sarah Stroud and Iwao Hirose. My thesis, to be defended in Fall 2017, is entitled The Disjunctive Hybrid Theory of Prudential Value: An Inclusive Approach to the Good Life.
In my dissertation, I argue that all extant theories of prudential value are either a) enumeratively deficient, in that they are unable to accommodate everything that, intuitively, is a basic constituent of prudential value, b) explanatorily deficient, in that they are at least sometimes unable to give a plausible story about what makes a given thing prudentially valuable, or c) both. In response to this unsatisfactory state of the literature, I present my own account, the disjunctive hybrid theory or DHT.
DHT answers to and remedies each of the above inadequacies in a way that no other approach can. Although it follows other recent accounts in combining elements from objective and subjective theories, it is a hybrid theory of a quite new kind. This is because it denies both subjective necessity (the constraint that, if thing x is to be basically good for person P, P must have some pro-attitude toward x) and objective necessity (the constraint that, if thing x is to be basically good for person P, x must have some attitude-independent value). I argue that the rejection of both necessity claims is called for if we are to move beyond the enumerative and explanatory limitations of existing accounts.
Another interest of mine is deference to moral testimony, and the peculiar challenges it raises. In recent years, I have completed two articles on this topic. In the first. I defend a pro tanto moral requirement not to defer to the testimony even of recognized moral experts. I argue that the process through which deferential agents form their beliefs is itself morally wrong, no matter the outcome. The second (published in Logos & Episteme in 2015) is a joint project with Andrew Reisner, where we present a dilemma for objections to moral deference that base themselves on epistemic, as opposed to moral, considerations.
Publications: Reisner, Andrew and Van Weelden, Joseph. (2015). Moral Reasons for Moral Beliefs: A Puzzle for Moral Testimony Pessimism. Logos and Episteme 6(4): 429-448