Research

The focus of my research: My research is centered on political philosophy, feminist philosophy, and the intersection of each with moral epistemology. In other words, I am interested in the justification of moral principles regarding social justice generally and gender justice specifically.

My current book project: How Moral Progress Happens. What can philosophers learn about moral epistemology from the study of moral revolutions? The moral revolution constituted by the abolition of slavery in the United States provides a real world test for how moral principles can be successfully justified even amidst deep social division. Once the most divisive issue in American political life, slavery is now a paradigm case of injustice. I argue that understanding how this happened is of more than just empirical interest, and in fact has normative implications for what role intuitions play in moral justification, how to overcome testimonial injustice, and to what extent moral perception is theory-laden.

"Privilege: What Is It, Who Has It, and What Should We Do About It?" in Ethics, Left and Right (edited by Bob Fischer). Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 457-464.

Discussions of “privilege” have become increasingly common, but it’s often unclear what exactly people mean by “privilege.” Even well-known writings about privilege rarely take the time to define the word and explain what it means. The confusion this creates is one reason why debates about privilege are often contentious and unproductive. This essay aims to demystify privilege, presupposing no prior knowledge of philosophy. With a clear definition, it is easier to discuss some of the main debates about privilege: Is there such a thing as “white privilege”? What about “male privilege”? And what’s the point of talking about privilege, anyway?

"The Deep Error of Political Libertarianism: Self-Ownership, Choice, and What's Really Valuable In Life." Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. Vol. 23, No. 6 (2020), pp. 683-705.

Contemporary versions of natural rights libertarianism trace their locus classicus to Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia. But although there have been many criticisms of the version of political libertarianism put forward by Nozick, many of these objections fail to meet basic methodological desiderata. Thus, Nozick’s libertarianism deserves to be re-examined. In this paper I develop a new argument which meets these desiderata. Specifically, I argue that the libertarian conception of self-ownership, the view’s foundation, implies what I call the Asymmetrical Value Claim: a dubious claim about the importance of choice relative to other valuable capacities. I argue that this misunderstands what is really valuable in life, and show how it causes libertarianism to generate counterintuitive public policy recommendations.

A shorter, more accessible version of the article which can be assigned to students is available here.

"The Study of Moral Revolutions as Naturalized Moral Epistemology." Feminist Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 5, No. 2 (2019).

I argue for the merits of studying historical moral revolutions to inform moral and political philosophy. Such a research program is not merely of empirical, historical interest but has normative implications. To explain why, I situate the proposal in the tradition of naturalized epistemology. As Alison M. Jaggar and other scholars have argued, a naturalistic approach is characteristic of much feminist philosophy. Accordingly, I argue that the study of moral revolutions would be especially fruitful for feminist moral and political philosophers.

"The Experience Machine Objection to Desire Satisfactionism." Co-authored with Joseph Stenberg. Journal of the American Philosophical Association. Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 2017), pp. 247-263.

It is widely held that the Experience Machine is the basis of a serious objection to Hedonistic theories of welfare. It is also widely held that Desire Satisfactionist theories of welfare can readily avoid problems stemming from the Experience Machine. But in this paper, we argue that if the Experience Machine poses a serious problem for Hedonism, it also poses a serious problem for Desire Satisfactionism. We raise two objections to Desire Satisfactionism, each of which relies on the Experience Machine. The first is very much like the well-known Experience Machine objection to Hedonism. The second asks whether someone who accepts Desire Satisfactionism should want to form a desire to plug into the Experience Machine.

Review of A Colony in a Nation. Ethnic and Racial Studies. Vol. 41, No. 8 (2018), pp. 1513-1515.

For my publications on pedagogy, please see my page on Teaching.

For a list of my talks at conferences, please see my CV.