Most of my research is motivated by the question, “What principles, practices, and institutions are morally appropriate for human societies given that humans are imperfectly rational and imperfectly good?” In seeking answers, I am guided by the idea that political philosophy cannot be done in isolation; it must draw on other areas of philosophy, such as epistemology and philosophy of mind, and on knowledge of history, human psychology, and the world around us.
I started working on my dissertation topic -- moral and political disagreement -- because I was struck by the extent to which prevailing philosophical theories of justice and democracy tend to either ignore or idealize away many of the most troubling features of contemporary politics, such as political polarization and the so-called “culture wars”. I argue that a normative political theory must take into account the social and psychological mechanisms responsible for these troubling features, such as human cognitive biases, motivated reasoning, and groupthink. I then consider some implications of this for theories of liberal justice and democracy.
(2014) “Empiricism and normative ethics: What do the biology and the psychology of morality have to do with ethics?” (with Owen Flanagan, Stephen Martin, and Gordon Steenbergen) Behaviour 151 (2-3): 208-228.
(2011) "A Tale of Two Processes: Categorization Accuracy and Attentional Learning Dissociate with Imperfect Feedback" (with Caitlyn McColeman and Mark Blair) Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: 1661-1666.