Welcome. I will be a lecturer in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University this Fall (2017). I received my doctorate in politics from the University of Virginia in May 2017. I research contemporary political theory, with a focus on freedom, social norms, and inequality.
My book project, titled The Sociality of Freedom, argues that the ideal of the free society is incomplete without an understanding of the role of social norms in that ideal. By social norms, I mean the informal rules individuals use to evaluate and sanction the behavior of other members in their society.
I argue understanding the relation between freedom and social norms requires a grasp of how social norms confer authority upon members of society. That is, social norms grant each member of society the normative power to hold each other member accountable according to shared standards. This social authority is distinct from that of law, which is granted only to the agents of the state. The decentralized authority of social norms provides a glimpse into both the promise and the peril of such norms to our freedom. This is what I mean by the sociality of freedom – Our political freedom depends on the set of social norms at work within our society, and not just our political and legal institutions. Attempts to improve freedom neglecting the sociality of freedom will be met either with frustration, at best, or self-defeat, at worst.