Research

Secession

I am currently writing my dissertation, tentatively titled "A Cosmopolitan Theory of Secession" under the supervision of Richard Arneson (chair) and the rest of my committee: David Brink, Saba Bazargan, Philip Roeder, and David Wiens. This gives my dissertation a David Score of 2 out of 5, which I think is very respectable.

As you may have been able to guess from the working title, I am proposing a new theory of secession which challenges existing theories of secession and better integrates the various commitments of cosmopolitanism. I argue that a proper accounting of the importance of the right to self-determination suggests that, contra other theories of secession, there is no right to secede unless secession would, on balance, be better from the point of view of whatever flavor of cosmopolitanism is correct.

Because one might hardly be said to have a right to something if its existence is contingent on exercise of the right being better overall, my proposed theory is somewhat deflationary. Secession is permissible not on the basis of a fundamental right to self-determination but rather on a case by case basis. If you are interested in learning more, let me know, or stay tuned for completion of the dissertation, which, if we are lucky, will occur at some point in the future.

I am also interested in:

Social & Political Philosophy

I'm broadly interested in questions about borders and the issues surrounding them. Specifically, I am interested in self-determination, secession, revolution, immigration, sovereignty, authority, political legitimacy, global justice, and related issues. I am currently thinking especially hard about civil war (what it is and when it is permissible to engage in it), group rights (what they are and whether there can be a group right to do something morally wrong), colonialism (and whether it is per se impermissible), revolution and sovereignty, and the right to join a state.

Ethics

I'm mainly interested in applied ethics and in metaethics.

In applied ethics, I am interested duties towards non-human animals, lying, spying, self-defense, and the moral status of manners, traditions, and other nonmoral normative practices. I am especially interested in intersections between applied ethics and the philosophy of race, focusing on topics like self-defense and police violence against persons of color, racial disparities in the function of technology like face recognition software and soap dispensers, and more traditional topics like reparations.

In metaethics, I am interested in other normative practices (manners, traditions, and so on) from the point of view of what sets them apart from morality. I am also interested in the metaethical issues raised by personal identity (particularly the question of well-being and how value gets into the world).

Et cetera

I think borders are an interesting topic in most areas of philosophy. I'm curious about ontological relativity, about demarcation in the philosophy of science and in the philosophy of social science, about what race, sex, and gener are, and about questions on the margins of philosophy of law about what "law" is, especially when it comes to legal positivism and the politics of judicial decision-making. I am also interested in applying the question of personal identity to non-human animals. I am currently thinking about definitions of race, the measurement of social scientific concepts (particularly civil war) in social science, and in the relations between the metaphysical issues of personal identity and various normative issues.