Shields, K. and Beversdorf, D. (2020) “A Dilemma for Neurodiversity.” Neuroethics,

Abstract: One way to determine whether a mental condition should be considered a disorder is to first give necessary and sufficient conditions for something to be a disorder and then see if it meets these conditions. But this approach has been criticized for begging normative questions. Concerning autism (and other conditions), a neurodiversity movement has arisen with essentially two aims: (1) advocate for the rights and interests of individuals with autism, and (2) de-pathologize autism. We argue that denying autism’s disorder status could undermine autism’s exculpatory role in cases where individuals with autism are charged with a crime. Our argument raises a dilemma for the neurodiversity movement: advocating for the rights and interests of individuals with autism may require viewing autism as a condition that can be inherently disabling (at least for some individuals). If this is right, autism’s disorder status might be maintained (again, at least for some individuals) without deriving this result from any general account of disorder.

Shields, K. (2016) “Moral internalism, amoralist skepticism and the factivity effect.Philosophical Psychology 29:8, 1095-1111, DOI: 10.1080/09515089.2016.1234596

Abstract: Philosophers are divided over moral internalism, the claim that moral judgement entails some motivation to comply with that judgement. Against moral internalism, externalists defend the conceptual coherence of scenarios in which an individual makes genuine moral judgements but is entirely unmoved by them. This is amoralist skepticism and these scenarios can be called amoralist scenarios. While the coherence of amoralist scenarios is disputed, philosophers seem to agree that the coherence of amoralist scenarios is not affected by whether the amoralist is described as having moral knowledge or mere belief. But recent experimental research challenges this assumption. When evaluating amoralist scenarios, people’s intuitions lean towards externalism when the amoralist is described as knowing that X is morally wrong, whereas people’s intuitions lean towards internalism when the amoralist is described as believing that X is morally wrong. Call this the factivity effect. In this paper, I argue that the factivity effect is unlikely to be explained as an experimental artifact and that as a consequence, the traditional dispute over moral internalism and amoralist skepticism may need a major overhaul. The results of three studies testing the factivity effect provide support for this thesis. Implications of these results for the traditional debate over moral internalism are discussed.


Commentary: Robbins, P. and Shields, K. (2014) “Explaining ideology: Two factors are better than one.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37, p.326-328.

Abstract: Hibbing et al. contend that individual differences in political ideology can be substantially accounted for in terms of differences in a single psychological factor, namely, strength of negativity bias. We argue that, given the multidimensional structure of ideology, a better explanation of ideological variation will take into account both individual differences in negativity bias and differences in empathic concern.