•  111
    Divine and Mortal Loves
    Religious Studies. forthcoming.
    “If the concept of God has any validity or any use,” James Baldwin writes in The Fire Next Time, “it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.” This essay is a meditation on Baldwin’s claim. I begin by presenting Baldwin’s account of a grave danger that characterizes our social lives – a source of profound estrangement from ourselves and from one another. I draw on the work of the theologian Howard Thurman in order to explain…Read more
  •  62
    Sources of Shame, Images of Home
    In Melissa Schwartzberg & Eric Beerbohm (eds.), Reconciliation and Repair: NOMOS LXV, New York University Press. forthcoming.
    In “Reconciliation as Non-Alienation: The Politics of Being at Home in the World,” Catherine Lu develops a novel account of reconciliation. Put briefly, she claims that reconciliation aims to address agents’ alienation from the unjust social institutions and practices that structure their lives; it aims, in other words, to enable these agents to be at home in their social worlds. In these comments, I present two kinds of challenges that Lu’s account faces. Both challenges have their source in fo…Read more
  •  454
    Living with Absurdity: A Nobleman’s Guide
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    In A Confession, a memoir of his philosophical midlife crisis, Tolstoy recounts falling into despair after coming to believe that his life, and for that matter all human life, is meaningless and absurd. Although Tolstoy’s account of the origin and phenomenology of his crisis is widely regarded as illuminating, his response to the crisis – namely, embracing a religious tradition that he had previously dismissed as “irrational,” “incomprehensible,” and “mingled with falsehood” – seems unpromising,…Read more
  •  1117
    Three Varieties of Faith
    Philosophical Topics 46 (1): 173-199. 2018.
    Secular moral philosophy has devoted little attention to the nature and significance of faith. Perhaps this is unsurprising. The significance of faith is typically thought to depend on the truth of theism, and so it may seem that a careful study of faith has little to offer non-religious philosophy. But I argue that, whether or not theism holds, certain kinds of faith are centrally important virtues, that is, character traits that are morally admirable or admirable from some broader perspective …Read more
  •  827
    A Better World
    Philosophical Studies 168 (3): 629-644. 2014.
    A number of moral philosophers have endorsed instances of the following curious argument: it would be better if a certain moral theory were true; therefore, we have reason to believe that the theory is true. In other words, the mere truth of the theory—quite apart from the results of our believing it or acting in accord with it—would make for a better world than the truth of its rivals, and this fact provides evidence of the theory’s truth. This form of argument may seem to be an obvious non-sta…Read more
  •  4738
    Faith in Humanity
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (3): 664-687. 2013.
    History and literature provide striking examples of people who are morally admirable, in part, because of their profound faith in people’s decency. But moral philosophers have largely ignored this trait, and I suspect that many philosophers would view such faith with suspicion, dismissing it as a form of naïvete or as some other objectionable form of irrationality. I argue that such suspicion is misplaced, and that having a certain kind of faith in people’s decency, which I call faith in humanit…Read more
  •  1508
    Grief and Recovery
    In Anna Gotlib (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Sadness, Rowman & Littlefield International. 2017.
    Imagine that someone recovers relatively quickly, say, within two or three months, from grief over the death of her spouse, whom she loved and who loved her; and suppose that, after some brief interval, she remarries. Does the fact that she feels better and moves on relatively quickly somehow diminish the quality of her earlier relationship? Does it constitute a failure to do well by the person who died? Our aim is to respond to two arguments that give affirmative answers to these questions. The…Read more
  •  284
  •  1001
    Civic Trust
    Philosophers' Imprint 17. 2017.
    It is a commonplace that there are limits to the ways we can permissibly treat people, even in the service of good ends. For example, we may not steal someone’s wallet, even if we plan to donate the contents to famine relief, or break a promise to help a colleague move, even if we encounter someone else on the way whose need is somewhat more urgent. In other words, we should observe certain constraints against mistreating people, where a constraint is a moral principle that we should not violate…Read more