My research addresses the question of how diverse individuals, who disagree on a wide range of fundamental questions, can live together in a shared social world. I’ve found that tackling this question requires approaching various topics in political philosophy using a wide range of theoretical tools. I’ve worked on questions ranging from political authority, democratic theory, distributive justice, and public reason liberalism. I’ve addressed these questions using methods such as social choice theory, agent-based modeling, and, of course, more typical philosophical argumentation, as well as often drawing on insights in the empirical social sciences.
My dissertation, titled Relating as Equals, develops a moral theory of social status. In line with relational egalitarian views, I argue that there is one kind of social status, which I call public social status, that we ought to be equals within the context of. Other topics addressed include: the conditions under which inequalities of public social status can be justified; the implications of a commitment to equality of public social status in the context of distributive justice; and the implications of that commitment for the arrangement of political institutions.
Papers If you are interested in a paper and cannot access it, please feel free to email me and I will send it your way. My email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Relational Egalitarianism and Democracy," Journal of Moral Philosophy (forthcoming) Relational egalitarians believe that democratic institutions are justified because relating as equals requires equality of political power. You might object that we can relate as equals despite there being inequalities of power between us. I develop an account of social status and argue that based on available sociological theory and evidence, we have good reason to hold that inequalities of power will cause inequalities of social status. I conclude that the relational egalitarian justification of democracy is vindicated.
"Justice, Reciprocity, and the Boundaries of State Authority," Journal of Political Philosophy (forthcoming) I propose a hybrid theory of political authority according to which some state is authoritative only if it is sufficiently just, and because citizens bear duties of reciprocity toward one another concerning compliance with the state. This fair-play functionalist hybrid maintains a commitment to basic intuitions that motivated functionalism, but avoids common problem cases for functionalism, such as the particularity problem or the problem of unilateral secession. Fair play functionalism also has an appealing and simple mechanism for explaining how historical injustices can fade over time.
"Democratic Public Justification," Canadian Journal of Philosophy (2020) It would seem natural to think that democracy would be a reliable means to track what laws or policies that are publicly justified. But why? I examine the mechanisms by which democratic institutions would choose publicly justified outcomes, and argue that they might not be as reliable as first thought. I go on to argue that such unreliability can ameliorated through the use of lotteries in democracy.