My work lies primarily at the intersection of politics, philosophy, and economics.

Papers Under Review:

“Compassion’s More Dangerous Allies: Fear, Anxiety, and Amour-Propre

Normative political theorists have incorporated civil passions such as compassion into prominent accounts of democratic deliberation, political decision-making, and moral reasoning. Meanwhile, fear, anxiety and pride are still regarded with suspicion as enemies of compassion. Drawing on the moral and political psychology of Rousseau’s Emile, this paper argues that compassion cannot always do without these more dangerous allies, at least not in societies characterized by socio-economic inequality and other persistent forms of difference. The paper presents three potentially viable and previously unacknowledged strategies for extending compassion under non-ideal political circumstances: fear of downward social mobility, religious anxiety, and pride.

Two Ways to Vote the General Will: The Spartan and Roman Models in Rousseau’s Social Contract

This paper shows that Rousseau identified two mutually exclusive solutions to the problems caused by factions. The first is the more typically discussed Sparta model where an encompassing public education system eliminates pluralism through social engineering. The second is the overlooked Roman model for managing pluralism by organizing the population into multiple overlapping divisions and balancing the power of various interest groups.

Working Papers:

“The Separation of Powers in Public Education”

“Checks and Balances: Public Schools and Public Institutions”

“Public Teachers and Public Choice”

“The Apolitical Child: Children’s Citizenship in Locke’s Political Thought”


DissertationChildren or Citizens: Civic Education in Liberal Political Thought

The liberal focus on individuals’ independence from the state is in tension with the intentional cultivation of the political culture required for democratic self-government. This tension is particularly evident when it comes to public education. My argument in the book is that we can partially overcome this tension by focusing on a different conception of children’s political status than typically attributed to liberalism. One liberal, but not necessarily democratic, conception is what I call “the apolitical child”. First articulated by John Locke in the process of limiting the scope of monarchy, this conception of childhood consigns children to the family and their education to the private sphere. This conception leads normative conversations about educational policy into conflicts about jurisdiction between parents and the state concerning children. I call the alternative conception “the child as citizen”. According to this view, children are already members of particular political communities. These polities can and should intervene in children’s education to prepare them for membership by providing universal public education and introducing children to a particular political culture and set of values. Based on an investigation of this alternative in 18th and 19th century liberal thought, I argue that liberal political theory should conceive of children as already being citizens. Regarding children as citizens would serve as a more productive ground for theorizing “liberal civic education” on the basis of the public good and the preservation of liberal-democratic institutions.



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