Much of my research focuses on what I call the Partiality Question: To what extent (if any) are we justified in prioritizing our own good over the equal good of others? When I first began thinking about this question I was drawn to Sidgwick's view that there are no rational grounds for resolving conflicts between self-interest and the greater good. However, further research on Sidgwick as well as contemporary ethics and metaethics led me to the conclusion that one's own good is not a source of reasons with independent weight over and above the weight they would have in an impartial calculus. Current projects center on defending this view (sometimes referred to as Rational Impartialism) and exploring the possible implications of various metanormitive theories for first-order ethical questions. I am also continuing to investigate and interpret Sidgwick's arguments and ideas about these issues.
A second line of research centers on Kantian practical philosophy. I am especially interested in Kant's value theory and moral psychology. I have published articles on the Kantian value of sympathy as well as Kant's moral justification for the hiddenness of God. Current projects address the relative value of virtue and holiness for Kant, as well as interpretive puzzles concerning the claim that one's own happiness is a necessary end.
A third historical figure I work on is Plato. I'm especially interested in Plato's arguments for the superiority of the just life, as well as his views on the importance of psychological harmony. In a paper forthcoming in Phronesis, Nich Baima and I argue that the Ring of Gyges argument from Book II of the Republic constitutes a more serious challenge to justice than critics maintain. Nich and I are currently working on a monograph in which we argue that Plato's epistemology was actually a form of pragmatism.
While my approach to philosophical ethics is largely historical, my aim is to explore key historical works as a means of making progress on contemporary issues. I also do non-historical research is areas such as moral psychology, virtue theory, and metaethics.
A selection of published papers, conference handouts, and poster presentations are available by clicking the buttons below.