•Ethics, Applied Ethics, Bioethics, Metaethics
•Philosophy of Law
My research focuses on a number of different topics in political philosophy, moral philosophy, philosophy of law, and topics in epistemology that relate to those three areas.
In political philosophy, my work has centered on the issue of political legitimacy: what, if anything, makes political action morally permissible, given that political action constitutes action backed by coercive force? I am particularly interested in the connections between democracy and legitimacy, and in exploring alternative political systems that might be improvements upon familiar representative systems of government. A second set of interests concerns issues at the intersection of epistemology and political philosophy: how should we design political institutions so that they are both legitimate and epistemically responsible?
I work on a number of different topics in moral and legal philosophy, many of which have intersections with topics in epistemology. I have research interests in all of the following topics: the moral status of animals and non-sentient life, the factors that make actions have moral worth, the relationship between moral responsibility and individual history, the philosophy of punishment and the role of the prison, ethical and legal issues relating to the treatment and punishment of the mentally ill, and the purpose and interpretation of constitutions. Additionally, I have a number of interests with respect to what one might call “moral epistemic” responsibilities—moral obligations to investigate, scrutinize testimony, suspend judgment, or refrain from acting as if one knows something—and the ethics and epistemology of decision-making under conditions of factual, legal, and/or moral uncertainty.
- “Lawyers, Context, and Legitimacy: A New Theory of Legal Ethics,” Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Vol. 25 (2012), pp. 107-164
- “The Paradox of Voting and the Ethics of Political Representation,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 38 (2010), pp. 272-306
- “Don’t Know, Don’t Kill: Moral Ignorance, Culpability, and Caution,” Philosophical Studies, Vol. 136 (2007), pp. 59-97