Boston College
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2002
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Areas of Specialization
Social and Political Philosophy
Areas of Interest
Applied Ethics
  •  10
    Deliberative Democracy, Diversity, and Restraint
    Res Publica 26 (2): 215-235. 2020.
    Public reason liberals disagree about the relationship between public justification and deliberative democracy. My goal is to argue against the recent suggestion that public reason liberals seek a ‘divorce’ from deliberative democracy. Defending this thesis will involve discussing the benefits of deliberation for public justification as well as revisiting public reason’s standard Rawlisan restraint requirement. I criticize Kevin Vallier’s alternative convergence-based principle of restraint and …Read more
  •  10
    Diversity, toleration and recent social contract theory
    Philosophy and Social Criticism 45 (5): 539-554. 2019.
    Ryan Muldoon has recently advanced an interesting and original bargaining model of the social contract as an alternative to Rawlsian social contract theory and political liberalism. This model is s...
  •  6
    Some public reason liberals identify coercive law as the subject matter of public justification, while others claim that the justification of coercion plays no role in motivating public justification requirements. Both of these views are mistaken. I argue that the subject matter of public justification is not coercion or coercive law but political decision-making about the basic institutional structure. At the same time, part of what makes a public justification principle necessary in the first …Read more
  •  8
    Equitable Sharing: Distributing the Benefits and Detriments of Democratic Society (review)
    Journal for Peace and Justice Studies 26 (1): 100-103. 2016.
  •  86
    The Moral Status of Public Reason
    Journal of Political Philosophy 20 (2): 156-177. 2012.
  • My dissertation examines the theory of public reasoning and political justification that is at the heart of John Rawls' political liberalism. In exploring both the merits and limitations of Rawls' idea of public reason, I pursue three main goals in the dissertation. First, I defend the idea of public reason as a deliberative ideal and demonstrate its internal relation to a first-person standard of political justification for fundamental political questions. I respond to charges that public reaso…Read more
  •  171
    Race, ideology, and ideal theory
    Metaphilosophy 40 (2): 237-259. 2009.
    Abstract: Philosophers who have addressed the problems of enduring racial injustice have been suspicious of the role played by ideal theory in ethics and political philosophy generally, and in contemporary liberal political philosophy in particular. The theoretical marginalization of race in the work of Rawls has led some to charge that ideal theory is at the very least unhelpful in understanding one of the most significant forms of contemporary injustice, and is at worst ideological in the pejo…Read more
  •  18
    Internal Minorities, Membership, and the Freedmen Controversy
    In John Rowan (ed.), Social Philosophy Today, Philosophy Documentation Center. pp. 91-106. 2009.
    This paper looks at recent efforts within the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to expel descendants of the freedmen, persons of African descent held as slaves until their emancipation and subsequent adoption as tribal citizens according to the terms of an 1866 treaty. The unavoidable racial dimensions of this controversy lead me to examine it as an example of the internal minorities problem, i.e., the problem of minorities within minority cultures, familiar from the literature on liberal multicultura…Read more
  •  19
    The Autonomy of Morality
    Social Theory and Practice 36 (1): 164-171. 2010.
  •  4
    Internal Minorities, Membership, and the Freedmen Controversy
    Social Philosophy Today 25 91-106. 2009.
    This paper looks at recent efforts within the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to expel descendants of the freedmen, persons of African descent held as slaves until their emancipation and subsequent adoption as tribal citizens according to the terms of an 1866 treaty. The unavoidable racial dimensions of this controversy lead me to examine it as an example of the internal minorities problem, i.e., the problem of minorities within minority cultures, familiar from the literature on liberal multicultura…Read more
  •  16
  •  63
    Against the Asymmetric Convergence Model of Public Justification
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (1): 191-208. 2015.
    Compared to standard liberal approaches to public reason and justification, the asymmetric convergence model of public justification allows for the public justification of laws and policies based on a convergence of quite different and even publicly inaccessible reasons. The model is asymmetrical in the sense of identifying a broader range of reasons that may function as decisive defeaters of proposed laws and policies. This paper raises several critical questions about the asymmetric convergenc…Read more
  •  110
    What is reasonableness?
    Philosophy and Social Criticism 30 (5-6): 597-621. 2004.
    The concept of reasonableness is essential to John Rawls’s political liberalism, and especially to its main ideas of public reason and liberal legitimacy. Yet the somewhat ambiguous account of reasonableness in Political Liberalism has led to concerns that the Rawlsian distinction between the reasonable and the unreasonable is arbitrary and ultimately indefensible. This paper attempts to advance a more convincing interpretation of reasonableness. I argue that the reasonable applies first to citi…Read more
  •  47
    “Political, Not Metaphysical”
    Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 77 205-219. 2003.
    Is it permissible for a citizen or political official to exercise coercive political power on the basis of a political justification associated with a religiously motivatedconception of justice? In this paper I accept John Rawls’s general approach to this question, but attempt to show how the Rawlsian approach is more inclusive ofreligious reasoning than many have supposed. My paper focuses specifically on the 1986 Catholic bishops’ pastoral letter on the U.S. economy. The bishops’ letter is cer…Read more
  •  131
    Respect, recognition, and public reason
    Social Theory and Practice 33 (2): 223-249. 2007.
  •  11
    Debating Rawls
    Philosophy and Social Criticism 38 (9): 881-885. 2012.
  •  5
    “Political, Not Metaphysical”: Reading the Bishops’ Letter as a Form of Public Reason
    Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 77 205-219. 2003.
    Is it permissible for a citizen or political official to exercise coercive political power on the basis of a political justification associated with a religiously motivatedconception of justice? In this paper I accept John Rawls’s general approach to this question, but attempt to show how the Rawlsian approach is more inclusive ofreligious reasoning than many have supposed. My paper focuses specifically on the 1986 Catholic bishops’ pastoral letter on the U.S. economy. The bishops’ letter is cer…Read more
  •  88
    Habermas, Religion and the Ethics of Citizenship
    Philosophy and Social Criticism 35 (1-2): 215-238. 2009.
    A recent essay by Jürgen Habermas revisits political liberalism and takes up the question of the extent to which democratic citizens and officials should rely on their religious convictions in publicly deliberating about and deciding political issues. With his institutional translation proviso, a proposed alternative to Rawls' idea of public reason, Habermas hopes to dodge familiar (and often overstated) criticisms that liberal requirements of citizenship are unfair or disproportionately burdens…Read more