In my dissertation, "Five Roles of the Political Philosopher," I am developing a normative conception of the role of the political philosopher that accounts for the special reasons—including moral ones—to which political philosophers are subject. I conceive of political philosophers not just as theorists of justice, legitimacy, and other political concepts, but also as world-builders, storytellers, teachers, and citizens.
I am a graduate fellow of the Conceptual Foundations of Conflict Project.
"The Normative, the Practical, and the Deliberatively Indispensable." Forthcoming in The Journal of Value Inquiry.
Abstract: David Enoch’s deliberative indispensability argument (2011) has attracted a fair amount of discussion and criticism. He claims that agents, or at least you and I, are engaged in something called the deliberative project, even if we aren’t deliberating right now. Enoch claims that engaging in this project, a long-term endeavor of deciding what to do in choice situations, (i) is rationally non-optional and (ii) requires the existence of irreducibly normative truths. Relying on these “two desiderata,” he uses his conception of the deliberative project to argue for non-naturalist realism about the normative and the moral (71-72).
Matthew Lutz (2021) addresses a variety of epistemic challenges to Enoch’s argument. But a significant objection to the argument still stands. This objection, anticipated to some extent by Enoch himself and Lenman (2014), claims that at most one of the two desiderata for the deliberative project can be true of it. Rational non-optionality cuts against the requirement of irreducibly normative truths and vice-versa.
In this paper, I present a version of this objection that I take to be stronger than the available versions. To do so, I set up a dilemma by using a distinction between practical reason and normative reason. I then argue that although this dilemma undermines Enoch’s own defense of the premises of the deliberative indispensability argument, it does not decisively refute the argument itself. There is room to pursue different strategies, based on alternative conceptions of the deliberative project, to motivate the argument’s premises. In the course of considering replies to the dilemma, I present and briefly explore the prospects for a Metacognitive Conception and a Development Conception of the deliberative project.
These approaches face significant challenges. But although Enoch’s attempt to use his account of the deliberative project to ground non-naturalist metaethical realism fails, we should not for that reason abandon the deliberative indispensability argument.
"The Roles of the Political Philosopher." (Public philosophy.) The Philosopher, Autumn 2022.
In this essay, a version of the introductory chapter of my dissertation, I introduce and explore several questions about the roles of the political philosopher. I take issue with what I call the Simple Picture, according to which political philosophers are merely philosophers who study politics. I oppose this view in light of the fact that political philosophy is a complex social practice. I present an extended analogy between the impact of political philosophy and the impact of religious practices on society. And I conclude by providing some initial motivation for my five-part conception of the role of the political philosopher.