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“
Although political theorists recommend extending empathy and compassion, recent studies in social psychology show that individuals have a harder time empathizing with those belonging to a perceived out-group. Scholars drawing on Rousseau for a defense of compassion rarely notice his attention to precisely the problems of empathy between members of different estates or classes. In Emile or On Education, Rousseau relies on complementary sentiments such as romantic love, fear and amour-propre to make the wealthy and well-born Emile empathic and compassionate towards members of other social classes. Rousseau also goes beyond private education to suggest that love, fear and amour-propre can serve to increase identification across class lines among members of the same polity or the same religion. For example, by re-drawing the distinction between the in-group and out-group, one can strengthen empathy across class lines while weakening empathy across national borders.
“Two Ways to Vote the General Will: The Spartan and Roman Models in Rousseau’s Social Contract”
Despite extensive work drawing on the Condorcet Jury Theorem to explain Rousseau’s comments about voting the general will, there have been no attempts to apply these methods to his institutional analysis. This paper shows that Rousseau identified two mutually exclusive solutions to the problems of voter interdependence and low competence caused by “partial societies”. 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 voting in groups. This model provides unexplored epistemic advantages as an electoral system. By clearly distinguishing the two ways of voting the general will and analyzing their epistemic consequences, the paper offers both historians of thought and democratic theorists a new way to understand the political institutions of the Social Contract.
“Public Teachers and Public Choice”
“The Apolitical Child: Children’s Citizenship in Locke’s Political Thought”
“The Liberal Case for Universal Public Education”
Dissertation: Children 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. I expect to be preparing the book manuscript for publication during the 2017-2018 academic year.