Douglas MacLean’s current research focuses on practical ethics and issues in moral and political theory that are particularly relevant to practical concerns. Most of his recent writing examines how values do and ought to influence decisions, both personal decisions and government policies. His publications on these topics include: “Comparing Values in Environmental Policies: Moral Issues and Moral Arguments,” Valuing Health Risks, Costs, and Benefits for Environmental Policy Making, ed. by Hammond and Coppock (1990); “Cost-Benefit Analysis and Procedural Values,” Analyse & Kritik (1994); and “The Ethics of Cost-Benefit Analysis: Incommensurable, Incompatible, and Incomparable Values,” Democracy, Social Values, and Public Policy, ed. by Carrow Churchill, and Cordes (1998) “Some Morals of a Theory of Nonrational Choice,” Judgments, Decisions, and Public Policy, ed. by Gowda and Fox (2002); “Informed Consent and the Construction of Values,” The Construction of Preferences, ed. by Slovic and Lichtenstein (2006); “Different Perspectives on Saving Lives,” Philosophy and Economics, (2007).
Other articles, less focused on practical issues and decisions, include: “Accentuate the Negative: Negative Values, Moral Theory, and Commons Sense,” Rationality, Rules, and Ideals ed. by Sinnott-Armstrong and Audi (2002); and “The Fairness Variations,” In All Fairness, ed. by Linnerooth-Bayer and Thompson (2007), "Is 'Human Being' a Moral Concept?" Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly (2010), and most recently "Between Desire and Destruction: A Reading of The Go-Between" in Philosophy, Literature, and Love, ed. by Grau and Wolf (forthcoming, 2013).
He has written some more general survey articles on “Risk Analysis” and “Risk Aversion” in the Encyclopedia of Ethics, 2nd ed., (2001) on “Environmental Ethics,” in A New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (2004), on "The Value of Human Life," in The International Encyclopedia of Ethics (2012) and on "Intellectual Property," (co-authored with Cureton, Taylor and Schaffer) in Research Ethics, ed. by Comstock (2013).
Books that he has edited or co-edited include: Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy; Energy and the Future; Liberalism Reconsidered; The Security Gamble: Deterrence Dilemmas in the Nuclear Age; and Values at Risk.