Public Philosophy

Trained through the Beyond the Ivory Tower writing workshops, I work with the Prindle Institute for Ethics to increase philosophical and ethical literacy through critical analysis of current events. My pieces, which are intended to be incorporated into high school and college classrooms, strive to reveal the moral complexities and challenges raised by the most pressing issues facing higher education and society.

Dishonest research violates one of the cardinal virtues of the academic vocation. Some readers might already be familiar with the traditional list of the cardinal virtues: Justice, Courage, Prudence, and Temperance. Honesty, of course, is nowhere on this list. So what do I mean when I call honesty a cardinal virtue? Professors typically have two primary tasks: the generation and transmission of knowledge. For both of these tasks, an emphasis on truth takes center stage. And this focus on truth means that honesty is particularly important for the academic vocation.

Research has shown that when healthcare providers have the time to show their patients compassion, medical outcomes not only improve, but unnecessary costs are reduced as well. At the same time, compassion also helps curtail physician burnout, as connecting with patients makes doctors happier and more fulfilled. But due to an emphasis on efficiency and increased medical surveillance, many doctors already say that they do not have enough time for compassion in their clinical routines. If compassion plays a significant role in providing quality healthcare, then that needs to change.

The Supreme Court has maintained that race-neutral admissions policies are preferable to race-conscious approaches, while nevertheless continuing to allow for race-conscious practices. How do we make sense of this? In this article, I use the ideas of ideal and nonideal justice to understand how the Court might maintain that it is not always best to implement the ideal policy.

Political issues are often very complex, calling for competency in history, economics, sociology, and political science, amongst other disciplines. Because we cannot be experts in all these fields, such complexities call for a large degree of intellectual humility, transforming the way that we approach and think about challenging political issues.

It is widely thought that moral education is not compatible with the mission of higher education. In this article, I point out that the issue is a bit more complicated. There are some virtues, like honesty, that play a key role in university life, making it possible that other moral virtues like justice and compassion might also be important for helping students succeed at their colleges and universities.

An important aspect of liberal democracies is their ability to accommodate reasonable pluralism. Many take this to mean that democracies should be completely hands-off when it comes to the moral formation of its citizens. In this article, I use Martha Nussbaum's capabilities approach to argue that there are certain virtues that are necessary for leading self-directed lives, giving even liberal democracies reason to encourage particular minimal virtues in their citizens.

Who is responsible for growing political polarization? To many, the answer is obvious: Irrational voters are to blame. This irrationality results in motivated, in-group reasoning that only serves to further deepen the political divide.  In this piece, I examine a perspective that holds that polarization results, not from irrationality, but from rational responses by voters to their limited epistemic resources.