•  289
    “No lies": The Hurricane Notebook, found on a Wilmington beach after a storm, contains the thoughts, artistic experiments, vignettes, and recorded dialogues of an unknown author calling herself "Elizabeth M." Its entries record the inner life of a soul in crisis, perpetually returning to the moment she learned of her sister's suicide and making an unrelenting attempt to understand herself and the human condition. Whether engaged in introspective soul-searching, or reconstructing her discussions …Read more
  •  198
    What Has Athens to Do with Rome? Tocqueville and the New Republicanism
    American Political Thought 6 (4): 550-573. 2017.
    The recent debate over “republican” conceptions of freedom as non-domination has re- invigorated philosophical discussions of freedom. However, “neo-Roman” republicanism, which has been characterized as republicanism that respects equality, has largely ignored the work of Alexis de Tocqueville, although he too took his task to be crafting a republicanism suited to equality. I therefore provide a philosophical treatment of the heart of Tocqueville’s republicanism, including an analysis of his con…Read more
  •  171
    Tocqueville, Pascal, and the Transcendent Horizon
    American Political Thought 5 (1): 109-131. 2016.
    Most students of Tocqueville know of his remark, “There are three men with whom I live a little every day; they are Pascal, Montesquieu, and Rousseau.” In this paper I trace out the contours of Pascal’s influence upon Tocqueville’s understanding of the human condition and our appropriate response to it. Similar temperaments lead both Tocqueville and Pascal to emphasize human limitations and contingency, as Peter Lawler rightly emphasizes. Tocqueville and Pascal both emphasize mortality, ignoranc…Read more
  •  130
    Wholehearted Love: An Augustinian Reconstruction of Frankfurt
    Dissertation, University of Notre Dame. 2009.
    Harry G. Frankfurt’s work on agency and reflexivity represents one of the most important attempts in the current philosophical literature to elaborate the structure of agency. Frankfurt wishes to provide an account of what I call the “deep structures” of agency—those features of agency, such as care and love, in virtue of which the surface features, such as desire, are to be explained and understood. These deep structures are important because of their power to explain unified diachronic pattern…Read more
  •  61
    Open Duties
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (5): 503-516. 2011.
    This paper concerns a feature of the deontic landscape that, although pervasive, has hitherto escaped notice. None of the current categorizations of duties adequately capture a common and important form of duty, the “open duty.” The difference between open and closed duties, whether perfect or imperfect, rests not on the side of the end or action enjoined by the duty, but on that of the agents who are enjoined to act. An open duty belongs to more than one person, not all of whose performance …Read more
  •  61
    Affinity and Reason to Love
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 87 (1): 117-136. 2013.
    What is the nature of our reasons for loving something? Why does a particular person or activity stimulate our imagination and hopes more deeply than others do? Is the reason in the object of our affection or in ourselves? Much philosophical debate revolves around this dichotomy between objective and subjective reasons for loving. In this paper I will instead propose that our reasons are primarily relational, having to do with the concept of affinity. Affinity, defined as “fitness” between two p…Read more
  •  44
    To Will One Thing
    American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (2): 153-166. 2013.
    Before committing suicide, Othello says, "Speak of me as I am; . . . speak of one who loved not wisely, but too well." Thinking of his love for Desdemona, we are not likely to agree with his assessment that he loved her "too well," especially if loving well is supposed to require some kind of dependability or concern for her well-being; we would be loath even to grant that he loved her "too much." Othello's love for his wife seems, rather, to have been firmly subordinated to his love for his hon…Read more
  •  39
    Pascalian Faith
    Australasian Philosophical Review. forthcoming.
    Katherine Dormandy aims both to classify possible modes of relating faith to epistemic norms in terms of three broad viewpoints: evidentialism, epistemological partialism, and anti-epistemological partialism. I advance two related claims: first, her categorization flattens the epistemological terrain by treating epistemic norms that operate at different levels as if they operated on the same level and thereby distorts the views she categorizes under Anti-Epistemological Partiality; and second, w…Read more
  •  24
    The Twofold Task of Union
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (5): 987-1000. 2014.
    Love is practical, having to do with how we live our lives, and a central aspect of its practical orientation is the wish for union. Union is often considered in two forms—as a union of affections and as union in relationship. This paper considers both sorts of union and argues for their connection. I first discuss the union of interests in terms of the idea of attentive awareness that is focused upon the beloved individual and his or her concerns, life, and history. I then discuss union in rela…Read more
  •  21
    Are Intuitions of Supererogation Redoubtable?
    Southwest Philosophy Review 24 (1): 79-86. 2008.
    What should we make of the intuitions marshaled on behalf of the existence of supererogatory actions, or actions that are “good but not required”? Are they trustworthy or dissembling? This question is important considering the great respect many writers give to them. The attitude of Daniel Guevara is not unusual: "My discussion relies upon the intuition that certain acts, such as those described by Urmson, are supererogatory, indeed, that they are paradigms…I shall proceed on the assumption that…Read more
  •  15
    Pascal and the Voicelessness of Despair
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8 (2): 5-17. 2016.
    Thaddeus Metz’s Meaning in Life is like a magnificent castle, covering vast ground, with towers high into the heavens, and astoundingly intricate architecture. It covers the literature on meaning with enviable completeness and weaves together the many and various strands within that literature, ‘towering’ over the debates and issues and provides a wide and inclusive perspective on them. Meaning in Life is a striking achievement and, just as the intricacy of those fortresses testified to the grow…Read more
  •  13
    Kierkegaard's Dancers of Faith and of Infinity
    Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook 24 (1): 29-58. 2019.
    The goal of Fear and Trembling is to illuminate the difficulty of faith. At an important juncture, he claims that both types of knight are dancers, but only the knight of faith can dance perfectly, doing what perhaps no dancer can do: he does not “hesitate” in the moment between landing from his leap and assuming the position from which to reengage with finitude. This analogy has been given small attention in the literature. Given Kierkegaard’s surprisingly precise grasp of classical ballet’s vo…Read more
  •  12
    Narrative Variation and the Mood of Freedom in Fear and Trembling
    Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook 25 (1): 27-56. 2020.
    One of the most distinctive features of Fear and Trembling is Kierkegaard’s use of narrative variations in order to isolate, develop, and highlight the relevant features of his principal theme, the story of Abraham and Isaac, especially Abraham’s final test of faith. The book begins with a preface and ends with an epilogue; immediately within these, Kierkegaard has his pseudonym, Johannes de Silentio, provide such variations in the “Attunement” or Stemning, just following the Preface, and in Pro…Read more
  •  11
    The Mountain of the Self: Comments on “Self-love and Moral Agency”
    Southwest Philosophy Review 31 (2): 49-52. 2015.
  •  11
    ‘Man Simply’: Excavating Tocqueville’s Conception of Human Nature
    Perspectives on Political Science 42 (2): 84-93. 2013.
    There is widespread disagreement about Tocqueville's conception of human nature, some going so far as to say that Tocqueville possessed no unified conception of human nature at all. In this paper, I aim to provide the essential principles of Tocqueville's conception of human nature through an examination of the way in which he describes the power of human circumstances, such as physical environment, social state, and religion, to shape human character by extracting the principles underlying thes…Read more
  •  7
    Correction to: the Twofold Task of Union
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (5): 1125-1125. 2019.
    The original version of this article unfortunately contained an error. In footnote 1, the “[My 2013]” and “[My other 2013]” should be updated.
  •  6
    Education and Human Values provides valuable (if narrow) contributions to the philosophy of education and the ethics of care. The ethics of care, or care ethics, is distinguished from the three main schools of normative ethics—Kantianism and other forms of deontological rationalism, consequentialism of various kinds, and Neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics—because it takes the importance of empathy and caring relationships as its starting point. Slote has provided the outlines of such a philosophy in…Read more