Publications

Below are abstracts of my published papers, with links to the published versions. Feel free to email me if you’d like to read a draft copy. You can also read more about what I’m working on now on my research page.

Rights Forfeiture Theorists Should Embrace the Duty View of Punishment — Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Australasian Journal of Philosophy  95 (2017): 317-327.

In this paper, I bring into conversation two views about the justification of punishment: the rights forfeiture theory and the duty view. I argue that philosophers attracted to the former should instead accept the latter.

The Conventionalist Challenge to Natural Rights Theory — Social Theory and Practice, forthcoming

Call the conventionalist challenge to natural rights theory the claim that natural rights theory fails to capture the fact that moral rights are shaped by social and legal convention. While the conventionalist challenge is a natural concern, it is less than clear what this challenge amounts to. This paper aims to develop a clear formulation strong enough to put pressure on the natural rights theorist and precise enough to clarify what an adequate response would require.

Non-Aristotelian Political Animals — History of Philosophy Quarterly  32 (2015): 293-311.

Aristotle claims that human beings are by nature political animals. We might think there is a way for non-Aristotelians to affirm something like this—that human beings are political, though not by nature in the Aristotelian sense. It is not clear, however, precisely what this amounts to. In this paper, I try to explain what the claim that human beings are political animals might mean. I also consider what it would it look like to defend this claim, which I call the normative political animal thesis. I argue that this thesis cannot be given a general defense. Successful arguments for the normative political animal thesis must be made within particular ethical frameworks. To illustrate what such an argument might look like, I sketch a defense of the normative political animal thesis within a roughly Lockean rights theory, where its adoption seems especially promising

A Feminist Defense of the Unity of the Virtues Philosophia  41 (2013): 693-702.

In The Impossibility of Perfection, Michael Slote tries to show that the traditional Aristotelian doctrine of the unity of the virtues is mistaken. His argumentative strategy is to provide counterexamples to this doctrine, by showing that there are what he calls “partial virtues”—pairs of virtues that conflict with one another but both of which are ethically indispensible. Slote offers two lines of argument for the existence of partial virtues. The first is an argument for the partiality of a particular pair of virtues: frankness and tact. The second is a kind of feminist critique. I argue that both of these lines of argument fail. In both cases, Slote fails to ask whether the apparent conflict between putatively partial virtues has arisen from a misunderstanding of the demands of those virtues. From this error I suggest we can learn an important lesson: whether in our studies thinking about the virtues or in our everyday lives trying to practice them, it is a serious mistake to focus on the relationships among virtues without considering precisely what each of these virtues demands.