M.S.L., Yale Law School (expected June 2024)
Ph.D., University of Chicago (2012)
B.A., University of Chicago (2001)
I am an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Amherst College. My research focuses on the social and political dimensions of freedom.
The fundamental question that drives my scholarship is the question of what it means to be free. Many people think that freedom is fundamentally about me—i.e., they understand freedom as a quality of my choices and my life. I take the alternative view that freedom is about us. In other words, freedom requires just social and political arrangements and so can only be achieved by citizens acting together. In contexts ranging from Kant’s theory of property to contemporary debates about gentrification, my scholarship elaborates and defends the relevance of this vision of freedom for contemporary political philosophy and the broader world.
I teach introductory courses in general philosophy, as well as introductory and advanced courses in social and political philosophy, ethics, and European philosophy. My courses often explore questions like, “Why should I obey the law?,” “Is economic inequality unjust?,” “What does society owe me?,” and “What do I owe society?”
Across my classes, I aim to help students see how the claims of difficult and often historically remote texts speak to contemporary experience. For example, in both Justice, Freedom, and the State, and Racial Justice and Injustice, we examine how classic justifications for state authority resonate with the realities of systemic racism. Do members of racially underprivileged groups have a duty to obey a state authority that disadvantages them?
“Property and Possession in Rousseau’s Social Contract,” in The Cambridge Companion to Rousseau’s ‘Social Contract,’ eds. David Williams and Matthew Maguire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming 2023).
“Kant on Right,” in The Oxford Handbook of Kant, eds. Anil Gomes and Andrew Stephenson. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming 2023).
“What is Provisional Right?" (with Martin Stone), The Philosophical Review, vol. 131 (2022): 51-98.
“Republicanism and Structural Domination,” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 102 (2021): 292-319.
“Freedom and Poverty in the Kantian State,” European Journal of Philosophy, vol. 26 (2018): 911-931.
“The Provisionality of Property Rights in Kant’s Doctrine of Right,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, vol. 48 (2018): 850-876.
“Rousseau on the Ground of Obligation: Reconsidering the Social Autonomy Interpretation,” European Journal of Political Theory, vol. 17 (2018): 233-243.
“Autonomy and Happiness in Rousseau’s Justification of the State,” Review of Politics, vol. 78 (2016): 391-417.
“Rawls on Meaningful Work and Freedom,” Social Theory and Practice, vol. 41 (2015): 477-504.
Amherst alumni reunion talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfUkW-Vykoo