•  9
    Merleau-Ponty, Moral Perception, and Metaethical Internalism
    Journal of Speculative Philosophy 34 (3): 265-273. 2020.
    Two of the most basic commitments of virtue ethics, both ancient and contemporary, are that virtue is knowledge and that this knowledge is a kind of moral sensitivity that is best understood on the model of perception. On this account, the virtuous agent perceives moral goodness and badness in something like the way we perceive that a smiling person is happy or that a raging bull is dangerous. This is opposed to the more widely held view of moral experience, according to which perception informs…Read more
  • The Differend and the Paradox of Contempt
    Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy. forthcoming.
    In this paper I begin by suggesting that Immanuel Kant’s argument for the impermissibility of treating others with contempt seems to be subject to a paradox very similar to the well known paradox of forgiveness first described by Aurel Kolnai. Specifically, either the object of the judgment of contempt is not really contemptible, in which case the prohibition on treating him with contempt is superfluous, or else the person truly is contemptible, in which case the prohibition seems unjustifiable,…Read more
  •  74
    Forgiveness as Institution: A Merleau-Pontian Account
    Continental Philosophy Review 52 (2). 2019.
    Recent literature on forgiveness suggests that a successful account of the phenomenon must satisfy at least three conditions: it must be able to explain how forgiveness can be articulate, uncompromising, and elective. These three conditions are not logically inconsistent, but the history of reflection on the ethics of forgiveness nonetheless suggests that they are in tension. Accounts that emphasize articulateness and uncompromisingness tend to suggest an excessively deflationary understand…Read more
  •  52
    Obligation and the Fact of Sense
    Edinburgh University Press. 2019.
    This book proposes a substantially new solution to a classic philosophical problem: how is it possible that morality genuinely obligates us, binding our wills without regard to our perceived well-being? Building on Immanuel Kant’s idea of the fact of reason, the book argues that the bindingness of obligation can be traced back to the fact, articulated in different ways by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel Serres, and Jean-Luc Nancy, that we find ourselves responsive, prior to all reflection, to a pr…Read more
  •  110
    Humor, Contempt, and the Exemption from Sense
    Philosophy Today 64 (1): 205-220. 2020.
    Building on the theory of humor advanced by Yves Cusset in his recent book Rire: Tractatus philo-comicus, I argue that we can understand the phenomenon in terms of what Jean-Luc Nancy, following Roland Barthes, has called the exemption from sense. I attempt to show how the humorous sensibility, understood in this way, is entirely incompatible with the experience of others as contemptible. I conclude by developing some of the normative implications of this, focusing specifically on the question w…Read more
  •  45
  •  119
    Imperative Sense and Libidinal Event
    Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University. 2007.
    My dissertation presents a comprehensive rethinking of the Kantian imperative, articulating it on the basis of what I call originary sense. Calling primarily upon the works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean-François Lyotard, I show (1) that sense constitutes the ontologically most basic dimension of our worldly being and (2) that the way in which this sense happens is determinative for our experience of the ethical imperative. By originary sense I mean to name something that is …Read more
  •  216
    Obligation Without Rule: Bartleby, Agamben, and the Second-Person Standpoint
    Comparative and Continental Philosophy (2): 1-13. 2018.
    In Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener, the narrator finds himself involved in a moral relation with the title character whose sense he finds difficult to articulate. I argue that we can make sense of this relation, up to a certain point, in terms of the influential account of obligation that Stephen Darwall advances in The Second-Person Standpoint. But I also argue that there is a dimension of moral sense in the relation that is not captured by Darwall’s account, or indeed by any of the a…Read more
  •  116
    The Event of Sense in Lyotard's Discours, Figure
    Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 41 (3): 246-260. 2010.
    One of the dominant themes structuring the trajectory of Jean-François Lyotard's philosophical work is his concern to think the event in a way that renders it intelligible, but that also respects the alterity and the uncanniness that are essential to it. In this paper I defend Lyotard's earlier understanding of the event, articulated most thoroughly in Discours, figure, from the criticisms of the later Lyotard, articulated most thoroughly in The Differend. More specifically, I attempt to demonst…Read more
  •  215
    The Terrifying Concupiscence of Belonging: Noise and Evil in the Work of Michel Serres
    Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy/Revue canadienne de philosophie continentale 19 (1): 249-267. 2015.
    In this paper I examine the conception of evil and the prescriptions for its mitigation that Michel Serres has articulated in his recent works. My explication of Serres’s argument centers on the claim, advanced in many different texts, that practices of exclusion, motivated by what he calls “the terrifying concupiscence of belonging,” are the primary sources of evil in the world. After explicating Serres’s argument, I examine three important objections, concluding that Serres overestimates somew…Read more
  •  289
    Dignity at the Limit: Jean-Luc Nancy on the Possibility of Incommensurable Worth
    Continental Philosophy Review 49 (3): 309-323. 2016.
    Dignity, according to some recent arguments, is a useless concept, giving vague expression to moral intuitions that are better captured by other, better defined concepts. In this paper, I defend the concept of dignity against such skeptical arguments. I begin with a description of the defining features of the Kantian conception of dignity. I then examine one of the strongest arguments against that conception, advanced by Arthur Schopenhauer in On the Basis of Morality. After considering some sta…Read more
  •  62
    A Fact, As It Were: Obligation, Indifference, and the Question of Ethics
    Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (1): 219-234. 2016.
    According to Immanuel Kant, the objective validity of obligation is given as a fact of reason, which forces itself upon us and which requires no deduction of the kind that he had provided for the categories in the Critique of Pure Reason. This fact grounds a moral philosophy that treats obligation as a good that trumps all others and that presents the moral subject as radically responsible, singled out by an imperatival address. Based on conceptions of indifference and facticity that Charles Sco…Read more
  •  75
    Alterity in Merleau-Ponty’s Prose of the World
    Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 16 (2): 425-442. 2012.
    I argue in this paper that Maurice Merleau-Ponty provides a compelling account of alterity in The Prose of the World. I begin by tracing this account of alterity back to its roots in Phenomenology of Perception. I then show how the dynamic of expression articulated in The Prose of the World overcomes the limitations of the account given in the earlier work. After addressing an objection to the effect that the account given in The Prose of the World fails for the same reason as the one given in P…Read more
  •  116
    Moral Dilemma and Moral Sense: A Phenomenological Account
    Journal of Speculative Philosophy 29 (2): 218-235. 2015.
    In this paper I argue that a phenomenological account of moral sense-bestowal can provide valuable insight into the possibility of moral dilemmas. I propose an account of moral sense-bestowal that is grounded in the phenomenology of expression that Maurice Merleau-Ponty developed throughout the course of his philosophical work, and most explicitly in the period immediately following the publication of Phenomenology of Perception. Based on this Merleau-Pontian account of moral sense-bestowal, I d…Read more
  •  141
    Contempt and Moral Subjectivity in Kantian Ethics
    Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 78 (2): 305-327. 2016.
    I argue in this paper that Immanuel Kant's account of the moral wrongness of contempt in the Metaphysics of Morals provides important resources for our understanding of the nature of moral subjectivity. Although Kant typically emphasizes the subject's position as autonomous addressor of the moral law, his remarks on contempt bring into relief a dynamic relationship at the heart of practical subjectivity between the addressor and addressee positions. After tracing the development of reflection co…Read more
  •  84
    In The Troubadour of Knowledge, Michel Serres demonstrates, by means of an extended discussion of learning, that our capacity to adopt a position presupposes a kind of disorienting exposure to a dimension of pure possibility that both subtends and destabilizes that position. In this paper I trace out the implications of this insight for our understanding of obligation, especially as it is articulated in the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Specifically, I argue that obligation is given along …Read more
  •  74
    Tact as Ambiguous Imperative: Merleau-Ponty, Kant, and Moral Sense-Bestowal
    Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (1): 195-211. 2015.
    I argue in this paper that some of the most basic commitments of Kantian ethics can be understood as grounded in the dynamic of sense that Merleau-Ponty describes in his Phenomenology of Perception. Specifically, I argue that Merleau-Ponty’s account supports the importance of universalizability as a test for the moral permissibility of particular acts as well as the idea that the binding character of the moral law is given as something like a fact of reason. But I also argue that Merleau-Ponty’s…Read more
  •  192
    Toward a Serresian Reconceptualization of Kantian Respect
    Philosophy Today 52 (1): 52-59. 2008.
    According to Immanuel Kant, moral experience is made possible by respect, an absolutely unique feeling in which the sensible and the intelligible are given immediately together. This paper argues that Kant's moral philosophy underemphasizes the role of this sensibility at the heart of moral experience and that a more rigorous conception of respect, grounded in Michel Serres's concepts of the parasite, the excluded/included third, and noise would yield a moral philosophy more consistent with Kant…Read more
  •  179
    Contempt, Community, and the Interruption of Sense
    Critical Horizons 18 (2): 154-167. 2017.
    In the early modern period, contempt emerged as a persistent theme in moral philosophy. Most of the moral philosophers of the period shared two basic commitments in their thinking about contempt. First, they argued that we understand the value of others in the morally appropriate way when we understand them from the perspective of the morally relevant community. And second, they argued that we are naturally inclined to judge others as contemptible, and that we must therefore interrupt that natur…Read more
  •  137
    Kant's fact of reason as source of normativity
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 52 (6). 2009.
    In _The Sources of Normativity_, Christine M. Korsgaard argues that unconditional obligation can be accounted for in terms of practical identity. My argument in this paper is that practical identity cannot play this foundational role. More specifically, I interpret Korsgaard's argument as beginning with something analogous to Kant's fact of reason, viz. with the fact that our minds are reflective. I then try to show that her determination of this fact is inadequate and that this causes the argum…Read more