I am interested in examining the political and ethical implications of information acquisition and management from a philosophical perspective, and my academic research occurs at the intersection of epistemology and political philosophy. Large questions addressed by my work include: In what ways can political misinformation harm or wrong? What knowledge or beliefs must persons have for laws to be legitimately imposed on them? How does the increasing complexity of the information available to us change what moral and political behaviors we can reasonably expect of each other? 

I am currently writing a dissertation that examines the implications of our pervasive dependence on testimony to form opinions about our political and social situation for public justification. Public justification is the idea that political and social action ought to be performed only in ways that are justifiable to everyone. In the first half of the dissertation, I argue that the conception of 'justification' most relevant to public justification has a strongly externalist aspect on account of our pervasive dependence on testimony. This means that whether or not an act of political of social authority is justifiable to a person depends at least in part on factors about which we cannot reasonably expect that person to become aware.

 

In the second half of the dissertation, I consider two consequences of endorsing a conception of public justification that is partly externalist. The first is that persons can, under carefully defined circumstances, be the appropriate recipients of social sanctions such as blame for performing actions that they could not have been reasonably expected to recognize as wrong from their perspective. The second is that it is an expectable consequence or coordinating on complex political projects that some persons will come to view authoritative political and social actions as acceptable even though the reasons they depend on in doing so are unintelligible from their perspective. I argue that this is compatible with the public justification of those actions so long as all the persons essentially involved in justifying them are committed to a shared justificatory project and are disposed to moderate their communications in light of this commitment.  

Some further topics I hope my interests will lead me to think about are the importance of the normative structure of inquiry for politics, whether making decisions under conditions of information overload threatens autonomy, the social consequences of skepticism, and the epistemic difficulties associated with defining and organizing large political projects, among others.