Research

Publications

2022. What Is Meaningful Work? Social Theory and Practice (Online First). Preprint version here

This paper argues that two orthodox views of meaningful work—the subjective view and the autonomy view—are deficient. In their place is proposed the contributive view of meaningful work, which is constituted by work that is both complex and involves persons in its contributive aspect. These conditions are necessary due to the way work is inherently tied up with the idea of social contribution and the interdependencies between persons. This gives such features of the contributive view a distinct basis from those found in existent accounts of meaningful work.

2021. The End of the Right to the City: A Radical-Cooperative View, w/ Martin Horak. Urban Affairs Review (Online First). Open access.

Is the Right to the City (RTTC) still a useful framework for a transformative urban politics? Given recent scholarly criticism of its real-world applications and appropriations, in this paper, we argue that the transformative promise in the RTTC lies beyond its role as a framework for oppositional struggle, and in its normative ends. Building upon Henri Lefebvre’s original writing on the subject, we develop a “radical-cooperative” conception of the RTTC. Such a view, which is grounded in the lived experiences of the current city, envisions an urban society in which inhabitants can pursue their material and social needs through self-governed cooperation across social difference. Growing and diversifying spaces and sectors of urban life that are decoupled from global capitalism are, we argue, necessary to create space for this inclusionary politics. While grassroots action is essential to this process, so is multi-scalar support from the state.

Under Review

“Meaningful Work, Nonperfectionism, and Reciprocity” (available upon request)

Any liberal argument for incorporating meaningful work within a theory of justice inherits a burden of proof to show why it does not fall to the objection that privileging the work process valorizes particular ideas about the good and thereby unfairly privileges some persons over others. Existing liberal defences of meaningful work, which rely on the formative effects of work in contemporary economies, have a limited scope of appeal and do not provide a convincing reply to the objection. The paper offers an alternative reply by arguing that meaningful work, understood as a person-engaging social contribution, is intimately connected through reciprocity to the fundamental political idea of society as a system of cooperation between free and equal participating members. This makes the opportunity to engage in meaningful work a social basis of self-respect.

“Are Saviour Siblings Special?” [w/ Elizabeth Finneron-Burns] (available upon request)

In this paper we examine three categories of reasons that have been given against the creation of saviour siblings and argue that all can be defeated. We then outline the conditions under which the practice is morally permissible and argue that these conditions are no different from those under which it is ever morally permissible to procreate. Our surprising conclusion is that saviour siblings do not present a special case in procreative ethics, and that it is permissible to create them whenever it is permissible to create any other child.

“Refraining with Confidence: Political Liberalism’s Skeptical Problem and the Burden of Total Experience” (available upon request)

According to political liberalism, a just and stable society is compatible with deep disagreements, provided that citizens refrain from attempting to base constitutional essentials on disputed comprehensive beliefs.  Critics of political liberalism maintain that this refraining condition requires citizens to entertain skepticism about their own basic beliefs, thus endorsing, inconsistently, an epistemic position that is itself disputed. Some discussions of the epistemology of disagreement may tend to reinforce such a critique. But skepticism can be avoided if we take account of the role of total life-experience in belief formation.  That it makes beliefs incommunicable is enough to sustain political liberalism’s refraining condition, without rendering beliefs unjustifiable.

Works in Progress

“Economic Power as an Externality”

Dissertation

My dissertation is on the normative value of meaningful work. I take a novel approach to this topic by using the political liberalism framework to analyze what place, if any, meaningful work should have within a theory of justice. While many political theorists and philosophers are skeptical about the capacity of a nonperfectionist theory to take meaningful work seriously, I show it to be a fruitful method which provides substantive answers on what meaningful work is, why it has normative weight, how its promotion can be weighed against other requirements of justice, and the implications of its promotion on the organization of work and the economy.