There are phonograph records purporting to contain “the wit and wisdom of Ronald Reagan” which, when played, are entirely silent. It might be suggested that a book on the Reagan administration’s foreign policy should similarly consist only of blank pages.
Jeff McMahan, Reagan and the World: Imperial Policy in the New Cold War, New York, 1985, p. 9
Suffering is bad primarily because of its intrinsic nature: it is bad in itself. Suffering of a certain intensity and duration is equally bad, or almost equally bad, wherever it occurs.
Jeff McMahan, ‘Animals’, in R. G. Frey and Christopher Heath Wellman (eds.), A Companion to Applied Ethics, Malden, Massachusetts, 2003, p. 529
I recall my eventual dissertation supervisor, Bernard Williams, saying to me once that he didn’t think that anyone could do ethics competently without a thorough grounding in logic. I nodded solemnly as if to register agreement, though I had never spent a minute studying logic and didn’t even know what a modus ponens was—in fact, I still don’t, though I know it has something to do with p and q.
Jeff McMahan, in Thomas S. Petersen and Jesper Ryberg (eds.), Normative Ethics: 5 Questions, 2007, p. 69
Pain that is equally intense may be equally bad even in the absence of self-consciousness. It is not necessary to have the thought “I am in pain” in order for pain to be bad. As people who have experienced the more intense forms of pain are aware, pain can blot out self-consciousness altogether. Intense pain can dominate consciousness completely, filling it and crowding out all self-conscious thoughts.
Jeff McMahan, The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life, New York, 2002, p. 229