Research

General

My research is primarily in moral psychology, specifically focusing on the moral emotions and the morality of interpersonal relationships. Lately, I have been especially interested in thinking about our being morally responsible for things other than actions. I also research issues in metaethics, philosophy of mind, and environmental ethics, especially those that are relevant to moral psychology.

Publications

Peer Reviewed

“When Wanting the Best Is Bad” Social Theory and Practice 44.1 (2018): 95-119

“Can Emotions Have Abstract Objects? The Example of Awe”  Philosophia (2017)

“Courage as an Environmental Virtue”  Environmental Ethics 36.3 (2014): 339-355

“Sagoff on Ecosystems as Self-Organizing Systems” Ethics, Policy & Environment 16.3 (2013): 258-261

Invited

Review of Adrienne Martin’s How We Hope: A Moral Psychology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014) in Mind 125.499 (July 2016)

Review of Love and Its Objects: What Can We Care For? of Love and Its Objects: What Can We Care For? Edited by Christina Maurer, Tony Milligan, and Kamila Pacovská (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) for Hypatia Reviews Online (June 2016)

Review of Christine Overall’s Why Have Children? The Ethical Debate (Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 2012) for Hypatia Reviews Online (January 2013)

Presentations

Peer Reviewed

A paper about being morally responsible, not just for actions and attitudes, but also for concepts

  • American Philosophical Association Eastern Division in Baltimore, MD (January 2017)
  • Poster presentation at the Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress in Boulder, CO (August 2016)

A paper about emotions, like awe, that can be about abstract objects

  • European Philosophical Society for the Study of Emotions in Athens, Greece (June 2016)

A paper about exclusionary desires

  • Indiana Philosophical Association Conference, Earlham College (November 13, 2015)

A paper about whether and how we should use the concept of a daughter

  • Hypatia Conference, “Exploring Collaborative Contestations and Diversifying Philosophy,” Villanova University (May 2015)

A paper about the emotion jealousy and its relation to self-respect

  • Inaugural Conference of the European Philosophical Society for the Study of Emotions, Lisbon, Portugal (July 2014)
  • Georgetown University Philosophy Conference (April 2014)
  • 39th Conference on Value Inquiry, “Virtue, Vice, and Character,” Western Kentucky University (2013)

“Courage as an Environmental Virtue”

  • “Conservation, Restoration, and Sustainability: A Call for Stewardship” at Brigham Young University (2012)

“Jealousy: Foe to Caring Relationships”

  • 63rd Annual Northwest Philosophy Conference (2011)

Other

“Awe In (and Out of) the Classroom” for the David Owsley Museum of Art Alliance (February 14, 2018)

Comments on “Hypocrisy and the Standing to Blame,” by Coleen Macnamara at the Northwestern University Society for the Theory of Ethics and Politics (NUSTEP) (June 19, 2013)

A paper about being morally responsible, not just for actions and attitudes, but also for concepts

  • Workshop on Gender and Philosophy (WOGAP) at MIT (April 10, 2015)

“Introduction to Philosophy of Science”

  • Colby-Sawyer College (2014)

A paper about the emotion jealousy and its relation to self-respect

  • Colby-Sawyer College (2014)

Comments on “A Utilitarian Argument for the Non-Identity of Compassion and Commiseration,” by Steve Bein at the 110th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association (2013)

“Courage as an Environmental Virtue”

  • Colby-Sawyer College Faculty Development Seminar (2013)
  • University of Calgary (2012)
  • Fort Lewis College Philosophy Club (2012)

“Jealousy: Foe to Caring Relationships”

  • Bellevue College (2011)

Comments on “How the Doctrine of Double Effect Can Vindicate the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing” by Howard Nye at the 63rd Annual Northwest Philosophy Conference (2011)

Comments on “Owning and Creation of Individual Selves” by James Jeffries at the 62nd Annual Northwest Philosophy Conference (2010)

Comments on “Evaluation Without Hyper-Intellectualisation” by Avery Archer at the 5th Biennial University of Washington Graduate Conference in Philosophy (2009)

Dissertation abstract

“Troubling Others and Tormenting Ourselves: the Nature and Moral Significance of Jealousy”

The emotion jealousy arises in diverse circumstances and is experienced in phenomenologically diverse ways. In part because of this diversity, evaluations of jealous subjects tend to be conflicting and ambiguous. Thus philosophers who are interested in the moral status of jealousy face a challenge: to explain how, despite the diversity of jealous subjects and experiences of jealousy, our moral evaluations of those subjects in light of those experiences might be unified. In this project, I confront and respond to this challenge, which I call the challenge of heterogeneity.

Throughout the project, I illuminate the heterogeneity of both jealousy itself and our judgments about jealous subjects by grounding my work in a wide variety of writings about jealousy by Western philosophers, historians, political figures, psychologists, religious scholars, and literary authors. Synthesizing this material helps me argue that Luke Purshouse’s descriptive account of jealousy is the best currently on offer in the philosophical literature, and yet to defend a clarified and revised version of his view. Thus in Part I, I develop an account of jealousy with three necessary but not sufficient conditions. On my view, if one is jealous:

  1. One desires that oneself stand in some relation to a specific, non-replicable good;
  2. One has in mind a (possibly imagined) rival and regards the rival’s having the good as logically or causally inconsistent with the satisfaction of this desire; and
  3. One has in mind some (possibly imagined) set of circumstances in which this desire would be satisfied.

In discussing this view, I emphasize the key role that relationships play in giving rise to jealousy, since this makes jealousy both descriptively and normatively unique. By focusing on the relationships in the context of which jealousy arises, I am able to transition away from purely descriptive accounts of jealousy and simplistic normative accounts that merely link jealousy with selfishness, insecurity, or some other morally problematic trait of character.

In Part II, I develop an account of jealousy’s moral significance with an eye to the challenge of heterogeneity. To do so, I divide cases of jealousy into three types: those involving jealous desires relating to (1) caring relationships, (2) non-caring relationships, and (3) material goods or personal qualities. I argue that in all three types of cases, jealousy undermines the actual or potential moral value of the jealous subjects’ relationships, and that this undermining provides a paradigmatic moral reason to criticize subjects for their jealousy. Thus I identify a common normative thread uniting all cases of jealousy while acknowledging the complexity of this emotion and the many ways in which cases of jealousy differ from each other.

My arguments do not show that jealousy’s undermining of relationships always provides sufficient moral reason to render an all-things-considered judgment that a jealous subject should be criticized. However, I consider multiple arguments for the claim that sometimes a person’s being jealous constitutes a moral reason to praise that person, and show that we have good reason to reject all those proposals. Thus I conclude that the paradigmatic moral reason to criticize jealous subjects that I have identified is significant, and that we have good reasons to believe that a subject’s being jealous is a moral reason to criticize, not praise, that subject.