My PhD Dissertation, Roles and the Filtering of Reasons, explores the morality of roles. I argue that occupants of professional roles are obligated or permitted to act on a narrower range of normative reasons. Professional integrity involves scope of the role’s filters, excluding some reasons while remaining responsive to others. I received the 2023 Best Dissertation Award from the Society for Business Ethics. You can read a synopsis here, the first chapter here, or the full thesis here.

Since defending my thesis, I have completed, or am near completing, the following projects. Manuscripts are available on request.

"Balancing, Shielding, Filtering: Three Models of Role Morality." I distinguish between three ways of understanding the moral significance of roles, defending the third. I focus on three cases: a nuclear safety regulator, a criminal attorney, and a corporate lobbyist. I show that the filtering model offers the best analysis of these cases, and in the process propose accounts of role obligation, professional integrity, and moral discretion.

"Campaign Promises and Legislative Ethics." I defend political campaign promises against the view that they are inconsistent with the responsibilities of legislative ethics. I argue that important democratic values are furthered when politicians make conscientious promises to citizens, even where this constrains their future legislative decisions. I also argue that the process of political compromise is itself a kind of joint promise, one that can supply a higher-order justification for breaking a campaign promise. 

"Do Bullshit Jobs Have Role Obligations?" Yes, I argue. When the rules and hierarchies of a job are legitimate, and when employees have little autonomy to interpret the requirements of their role, these employees can (distressingly) be obligated to devote their days to pointless (or "bullshit") tasks.

Review of Chiara Cordelli, The Privatized State (Princeton University Press, 2020). In Constellations. I discuss the Kantian theory of political legitimacy developed by Cordelli in her critique of the privatization of public services.

I will next be working on the following projects:

"The Dual Mindsets Model of Labour Relations." The ethics of labor relations is complicated by its combination of cooperative and competitive moral mindsets. A well-structured workplace ought to contain the competitive mindset to suitable channels and motivate compliance with cooperative norms (legal, moral, or negotiated). This leads to a novel argument for unionization, for managers non-cooperative impulses often need to be contained.

"How Demanding is Legitimacy?" Some political philosophers treat legitimacy as demanding concept, requiring a high level of democratic participation or a high standard of legislative deliberation. I argue that legitimacy is a more minimal notion, not to be confused with more demanding ideals. To make legitimacy too demanding is to radically undercut the moral bindingness of our social institutions, conflating those that are merely imperfect with those that are wholly flawed.

"Believing Another World Is Possible." Radical political theorists often ask us to believe that "Another World Is Possible" while offering scant details about what this alternative society would be like and how it would be achieved. I argue that this leap of faith is best understood in terms of Kant's idea of a practical postulate: a rational license to believe on the basis of ethics, rather than on the basis of evidence.

Earlier in my career, Gillian Brock and I co-authored "Abusive Tax Avoidance and Responsibilities of Tax Professionals," which won the Amartya Sen Award for essays on illicit financial flows. You can read this here

Photo: Iceland's Laugavegur Trail, 2021