One of the overarching goals of my research is to uncover points of agreement between different ethical traditions. By discovering common ground within frameworks such as consequentialism, deontology, and eudaimonism, we stand a better chance of avoiding the threat of moral skepticism arising from the appearance of irresolvable conflict. Moreover, each of these traditions provides important insights that we would be foolish to ignore out of loyalty to one particular point of view. A major part of my approach involves investigating the writings of great historical champions of divergent ethical theories in hopes of synthesizing some of their wisdom to make further progress on the most important practical questions.
The three figures my research currently centers on are Sidgwick, Kant, and Plato. I arrived at Sidgwick through my attempt to defend an impartialist account of practical reason called ‘Rational Impartialism’. According to this theory, there are no basic (i.e. non-derivate) reasons to favor oneself or one’s intimates. My PhD thesis revives a Sidgwickian argument for this view. Current projects include a reply to the charge that Sidgwick’s critique of deontology was unfair, as well as a defense of new interpretations of Sidgwick’s ethical axioms.
In a chapter of my forthcoming edited collection on Kantian and Sidgwickian ethics, I investigate Kant and Sidgwick’s respective claims that belief in God is somehow morally necessary. I argue that this conclusion arises from a shared assumption about the nature of practical reason and the need to posit a single ultimate end. Other research focusses on Kant’s value theory, moral psychology, and moral theology. 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, as well as interpretive puzzles concerning Kant’s claim that one's own happiness is a necessary end.
My research on Plato centers on the defense of justice offered in the Republic, as well as Plato’s view on the relative weights of practical and epistemic concerns. I have articles on these topics forthcoming in Phronesis and the Journal of the History of Philosophy (co-authored with my former colleague, Nich Baima). Nich and I are currently developing a monograph titled Plato’s Pragmatism. The central claim of this book is that, contrary to common opinion, Plato actually values practical concerns above knowledge and truth.
While much of my research engages with historical figures, my aim is to explore their works as a means of making progress on contemporary issues. I also do non-historical research in areas such as moral psychology, virtue theory, and metaethics.