BA, Dartmouth College
PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
My main project concerns justice in distribution within the democratic society. I argue that members of a democratic society owe one another, as a matter of justice, access to what they need to function as full and equal citizens. I am not unique in taking individuals’ needs qua full and equal citizens as central to democratic distributive justice. However, the needs-based accounts proposed by philosophers such as Rawls and Anderson test and disappoint the expectation that reasons will be available to citizens that they can offer one another in justification of their society’s principles of justice. These views rely on moral intuitions that citizens need not accept as part of their implicit commitment to basic democratic values-- in particular, robustly egalitarian intuitions. I demonstrate how far-reaching and attractive a floor for distributive justice can be, even when based on an insistently political account of full and equal citizenship that eschews such controversially egalitarian intuitions.
Very recently, I have become interested in philosophers' debates regarding global justice. My main research explores democratic citizens’ obligations to fellow citizens, to the exclusion of considering citizens’ obligations to non-citizens abroad or within their society. The literature on global distributive justice observes a similar distinction: some writers fall into the camp that assigns obligation exclusively on the basis of association membership (such as shared citizenship), while philosophers such as Peter Singer promote a cosmopolitanism that ignores association membership in assigning obligations to provide positive aid. I believe that the debate in these terms is ill-conceived--we ought to acknowledge both ways of grounding claims of distributive justice, and move on to figure out how to adjudicate the competition between members-only claims and all-inclusive cosmopolitan claims for societies' resources and attention.
PHI122: Introduction to Moral Philosophy: This course provides a systematic overview of moral theory. It has four parts: 1)The first section of the course introduces four philosophically prominent THEORIES OF MORAL OBLIGATION. These theories give us direction about what is morally right, wrong, or indifferent, and why this is so; 2)The second section of the course considers the SCOPE of our moral community. To whom do we have moral obligations? Do fetuses have claims on us, and if so, what is the moral status of abortion? Do we have obligations to animals-and if we do, may we still eat them?; 3)The third section of the course takes on QUESTIONS OF JUSTICE. What do we owe to fellow Americans? What do we owe fellow citizens of the world? We will consider questions ranging from whether justice permits taxation to whether justice requires universal access to health care or substantial foreign aid for poor countries; 4) The fourth section of the course address CHALLENGES TO ETHICS. We will consider the possibility that humans are not capable of altruism, only self-interest, and the possibility that moral rules are not universal, but based on a society's social conventions.
PHI274: Contemporary Political Philosophy: A survey of topics of interest to contemporary political philosophers. Topics may include global justice and human rights, the foundations of liberalism and democracy, feminist and antiracist critiques of liberalism, egalitarianism in its various guises, and communitarianism and identity politics.