THOMAS BYRNE

I'm a postdoctoral fellow in law and philosophy at UCLA School of Law. Before coming here, I completed my PhD at MIT, and my BA and MPhil Stud. at King's College London.

I work on moral theory, metaphysics and their intersection. Here is my CV. Email me at tjbb@mit.edu.

PUBLICATIONS

[5] Increasing the risk that someone will die without increasing the risk that you will kill them Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (forthcoming)

I consider cases where you increase the risk that, e.g., someone will die, without increasing the risk that you will kill them—with implications for the ethics of carbon-offsetting, and more.

[4] Legal Causation Jurisprudence (forthcoming)

I propose a new formalist account of legal (/proximate) causation—one that holds legal causation to be a matter of amoral, descriptive fact. The account starts with a metaphysical relation, akin to but distinct from common-sense causation, and it argues that legal causation aligns exactly with the relation; it is unified and principled.

[3] Making Metaphysics Philosophers' Imprint (2021)

We can cause windows to break and we can break windows; we can cause villages to flood and we can flood villages; and we can cause chocolate to melt and we can melt chocolate. Each time these can come apart: if, for example, A merely instructs B to break the window, then A causes the window to break without breaking it herself. Each instance of A breaking, melting or burning, etc. something, is an instance of what I call making. I argue that making is an independent, theoretically important notion—akin but irreducible to causing—and metaphysicians should pay attention to it.

[2] Making Ethics MIT Dissertation (2021)

The three central chapters have been superseded by the published [3], [4] and [5]. The remaining chapter, "The Bystander doesn't Kill," expands on an argument given in [3] for the conclusion that the bystander in Thomson's famous case doesn't kill the lone worker onto whom they divert the runaway trolley.

[1] Might anything be plain good? Philosophical Studies (2016)

Geach and Thomson argued that while many things might be good for or as a so-and-so—a good toaster, for instance—there is no sense to the idea of anything being plain good. And if there is no sense to the idea of anything being plain good, there can't be any sense to the idea of maximising (plain) goodness and so consequentialism is a nonsense. Almotahari and Hosein recently sought to plug a hole in Geach's and Thomson's argument. I show that their plug doesn't hold and that Geach's and Thomson's argument is invalid.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Saving and Letting Live (Revise and Resubmit)

I introduce the distinction between saving and letting live, and then I put it to work: trollies, aiding strangers, cluelessness and more.

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