For a list of papers, click here.
As human agents, we are constantly faced with questions about what to do, think, and feel. Such questions are usually addressed separately in different areas of philosophy such as ethics and epistemology. But there is an important sense in which they are all aspects of the same question: the question of how to live. In my research, I aim to provide unified answers to questions we face about how to live. In particular, I try to see what the nature of human agency can tell us about the answers to those questions. Though my primary areas are ethics and epistemology, my research aims also take me into social and political philosophy, the philosophy of mind and action, moral psychology, philosophy of race, 20th Century philosophy, and Sikh philosophy.
I am currently working on three large research projects, as well as a number of smaller projects.
One large project is to develop and defend a reasons-based account of what I call normative achievements. When someone does the right thing, that is a form of success. But it’s not a form of success that’s attributable to her unless it’s no accident that she acts rightly. Similarly, the success involved in believing the truth is not attributable to us unless it’s no accident that we believe the truth. When our actions, thoughts, and feelings are not just successful, but non-accidentally successful, they count as normative achievements on our part. Moral worth, knowledge, and rationality are all examples of normative achievements, because all of them consist in being creditworthy for a certain kind of success. As part of this project, I've published a paper on motivating reasons ("Acting and Believing Under the Guise of Normative Reasons," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research) and a paper on moral worth ("Moral Worth, Credit, and Non-Accidentality," Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics). I am currently working on a few more papers as part of this project, including accounts of rationality and knowledge.
In another project, I argue for the view that all authoritatively normative standards for actions and attitudes are constitutive standards that are internal to action and the various attitudes. In "What's in an Aim" (provisionally forthcoming in Oxford Studies in Metaethics), I argue for a view on which action and attitudes are partly constituted by object-directed representations that involve a commitment to their objects having certain properties. This fixes those properties as the constitutive standards for action and the various attitudes. Another part of this project applies this framework to epistemology to argue against pragmatism and pragmatic encroachment on normative standards for belief. In In “Evidentialism Doesn't Make an Exception for Belief” (forthcoming in Synthese), I defend evidentialism by showing how it fits into a unified theory of the rationality of object-directed attitudes. I am also working on a paper arguing against pragmatic encroachment.
The third and newest of my large projects is more in social/political philosophy and the philosophy of race. Daniel Wodak and I have written a paper (currently under review) arguing that, contrary to what is often assumed, racial and other forms of discrimination involve differential treatment on the basis of the very same features whether or not the victim actually has those features. This undermines a common form of argument for racial realism in social ontology. We plan to write a follow-up to this paper arguing directly for equal legal protection for victims of misperception discrimination. I am also in the early stages of work on two more papers in this area: one on how the use of course-grained racial categories in both law and ordinarily life constitutes both political and epistemic injustice, and another about the nature of racial and other slurs.
My smaller projects, which may become larger ones in the future, include: