Aaron Bronfman's research in ethics has centered around imperfectly rational agents. He seeks to develop theories of normative concepts that account for the role these concepts play in the mental life of such agents, including their role in deliberation, normative guidance, and weakness of will. Relatedly, he is interested in heuristic means of decision-making that enable ordinary agents to make better, though still imperfect, decisions.
John Gibbons works on practical reason and action theory, and recently his work has centered on the nature of reasons. Are reasons psychological states of the agent? Are they facts about the external world? Or should we just say that there are two kinds of reasons and leave it at that? There’s something to be said for both sides. But taking the easy way out and leaving it at that raises questions about the relation between the two and what they have in common in virtue of which they’re both reasons. Gibbons thinks that the fundamental idea behind the notion of a reason is the idea of rationalizing or making sense of, so reasons must be psychological states in some suitably broad sense. A fact doesn’t make sense of an action unless you’re aware of it. But no such story will ever be satisfying unless it can explain what seems right about the other side, and this requires understanding the psychological broadly enough so that it includes things like knowledge and awareness.
Joe Mendola’s Goodness and Justice (Cambridge: 2006) develops a unified moral theory in the utilitarian tradition. It defends the hedonism of classical utilitarianism, but propounds a distribution-sensitive evaluation of the overall value of outcomes and a new form of consequentialism focused on group acts. It argues that this theory would be true if the world were as we experience it to be. But it isn’t. So Mendola is now finishing another book-- Human Interests--developing a different moral theory, which incorporates a desire-based account of individual well-being of a sort he sketched in the 2009 volume of Philosophical Issues. Human Interests explores various implications of physicalism for ethics, including the truth of the conditional analysis of ability, the partial indeterminacy of individual and social options, and the indeterminate truth value of certain normative claims.
Mark van Roojen works primarily in metaethics and relatively abstract normative ethics. His papers in metaethics have focused on several topics. One is the Frege-Geach problem, the problem of providing a compositional semantics for moral discourse that is both plausible and consistent with the noncognitivist idea that moral thought and language is fundamentally non-representational. Another metaethical topic to which van Roojen has devoted some attention is motivational internalism in ethics - the view that moral judgments and/or their subject matter have a necessary connection to the motivations of those who make them or to whom they apply. He suspects and has argued that a plausible version of internalism falls out of moral rationalism. In normative ethics, van Roojen has worked on the rationality of satisficing and the relationship between rightness and goodness.