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  1. Ignore risk; Maximize expected moral value.Michael Zhao - 2021 - Noûs 57 (1):144-161.
    Many philosophers assume that, when making moral decisions under uncertainty, we should choose the option that has the greatest expected moral value, regardless of how risky it is. But their arguments for maximizing expected moral value do not support it over rival, risk-averse approaches. In this paper, I present a novel argument for maximizing expected value: when we think about larger series of decisions that each decision is a part of, all but the most risk-averse agents would prefer that we (...)
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  2. Guilt Without Perceived Wrongdoing.Michael Zhao - 2020 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 48 (3):285-314.
    According to the received account of guilt in the philosophical literature, one cannot feel guilt unless one takes oneself to have done something morally wrong. But ordinary people feel guilt in many cases in which they do not take themselves to have done anything morally wrong. In this paper, I focus on one kind of guilt without perceived wrongdoing, guilt about being merely causally responsible for a bad state-of-affairs. I go on to present a novel account of guilt that explains (...)
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  3. Solidarity, Fate-Sharing, and Community.Michael Zhao - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    Solidarity is a widespread but under-explored phenomenon. In this paper, I give a philosophical account of solidarity, answering three salient questions: What motivates acts of solidarity? What unifies different acts into tokens of a single type of act, one of solidarity? And what values do acts of solidarity exhibit? The answer to all three, I argue, involves a certain way of relating to others: identifying with them on the basis of shared features, and identifying with the larger group that one (...)
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  4. Can Moral Anti-Realists Theorize?Michael Zhao - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    Call "radical moral theorizing" the project of developing a moral theory that not only tries to conform to our existing moral intuitions, but also manifests various theoretical virtues: consistency, simplicity, explanatory depth, and so on. Many moral philosophers assume that radical moral theorizing does not require any particular metaethical commitments. In this paper, I argue against this assumption. The most natural justification for radical moral theorizing presupposes moral realism, broadly construed; in contrast, there may be no justification for radical moral (...)
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  5. Meaning, moral realism, and the importance of morality.Michael Zhao - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):653-666.
    Many philosophers have suspected that the normative importance of morality depends on moral realism. In this paper, I defend a version of this suspicion: I argue that if teleological forms of moral realism, those that posit an objective purpose to human life, are true, then we gain a distinctive kind of reason to do what is morally required. I argue for this by showing that if these forms of realism are true, then doing what is morally required can provide a (...)
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  6. Survivor guilt.Jordan MacKenzie & Michael Zhao - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (9):2707-2726.
    We often feel survivor guilt when the very circumstances that harm others leave us unscathed. Although survivor guilt is both commonplace and intelligible, it raises a puzzle for the standard philosophical account of guilt, according to which people feel guilt only when they take themselves to be morally blameworthy. The standard account implies that survivor guilt is uniformly unfitting, as people are not blameworthy simply for having fared better than others. In this paper, we offer a rival account of guilt, (...)
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  7. How to do things with sunk costs.Michael Zhao - forthcoming - Noûs.
    It is a commonplace in economics that we should disregard sunk costs. The sunk cost effect might be widespread, goes the conventional wisdom, but we would be better off if we could rid ourselves of it. In this paper, I argue against the orthodoxy by showing that the sunk cost effect is often beneficial. Drawing on discussions of related topics in dynamic choice theory, I show that, in a range of cases, being disposed to honor sunk costs allows an agent (...)
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  8. Intervention and the Probabilities of Indicative Conditionals.Michael Zhao - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy 112 (9):477-503.
    A few purported counterexamples to the Adams thesis have cropped up in the literature in the last few decades. I propose a theory that accounts for them, in a way that makes the connections between indicative conditionals and counterfactuals clearer.
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