Research Overview

I specialize in moral and political philosophy, moral psychology, and experimental philosophy.  My work is animated by an interest in the role that empirical facts should play in the evaluation of normative concepts. 

On my view, moral and political philosophers should be and have often been, explicitly or implicitly, interested in the fruitfulness of these concepts – how well they help us to solve practical problems.  My account of fruitfulness is specific to the normative domain and multidimensional, encompassing the motivational force and sociopolitical consequences of the adoption of concepts, among other factors.  Notably, evaluating fruitfulness along these dimensions is partly an empirical enterprise – we have to engage with and sometimes conduct new research in the social sciences to determine the extent to which normative concepts help us to solve the practical problems they are supposed to help us solve.  I am currently writing a book on these issues, tentatively entitled The Fruitfulness of Normative Concepts (under contract with Oxford University Press).

I am also interested in how political philosophy should take facts about the real world into account.  In particular, the fact that citizens and non-citizens of democratic states stand in relationships with one another, including intimate relationships and relationships of identification, generates stringent duties on these states that bear on how they treat non-citizens.  I have mostly examined these duties in the context of immigration justice, but am also interested in their implications for other topics, such as global poverty and climate change.

More generally, I hold that philosophers have an important role to play in engaging with and conducting empirical research on moral and political issues, and that traditional and empirical methods can be brought together to illuminate these issues.