Current research projects: overview
My research interests span a broad range of topics. My main philosophical contributions to date are in political philosophy and in social and political epistemology. I have also written on topics in the philosophy of economics (I first studied economics) and on justice in health (see my list of publications). More recently, I have started to work on issues in moral philosophy, especially meta-ethics. Here I describe my ongoing and most recent research projects.
Political philosophy: democracy and political legitimacy
I have written extensively on political legitimacy. I am interested in the question of what, if anything, justifies democracy. I have published a book on Democratic Legitimacy and I am the author of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on “Political Legitimacy”.
My new book on The Grounds of Political Legitimacy (OUP 2023) explores the normative foundations of conceptions of political legitimacy. I started this project when I held a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship in 2010/11 on "The Normativity of Legitimacy".
Political philosophy: the digital public sphere
I have been involved in an AHRC-funded collaborative research project on Norms for the New Public Sphere (2019 - 2022), working with Rowan Cruft (Stirling), Jonathan Heawood (Public Interest News Foundation), and others. The project explored the norms that can underpin the regulation of social media platforms in relation to their increasingly important role in political debate.
In a spin-off from this project, we have started to explore a co-creational model for the news media that combines a commitment to truth with a commitment to public participation.
Political epistemology: procedural epistemic norms and values
In my work on democratic theory, I explored epistemic proceduralism – the idea that the epistemic value of democracy depends on procedural values such as willingness to subject your views to scrutiny and uptake of other points of view, not (just) on an ability to track the right decision.
More recently, I explored the procedural epistemic value of deliberation. I’ve also written on procedural (and substantive) epistemic norms of political deliberation in my book on The Grounds of Political Legitimacy.
Social epistemology: moral, political, and epistemic self-trust and trust in others
Through my work on political epistemology I became interested in the epistemology of disagreements. Much of the early literature on this topic has focused on how you should rationally respond to a disagreement with an epistemic peer. A more general question is how much should you trust your own epistemic or moral faculties and how much should you trust other people's judgment?
I’ve started exploring this question in relation to epistemic self-trust and trust in others, but it is also relevant in contexts of moral and political disagreements. In The Grounds of Political Legitimacy, I've written on the question of whether we can ever be required to politically defer to others.
Normative theory: reasons and fittingness
My main current research project focuses on a set of issues in moral philosophy, especially meta-ethics, and normative theory.
One strand of this research explores the limitations of “reasons-first” normative theories and the relation between normative reasons and fittingness. This research explores questions such as the following. Are reasons fundamental normative facts? Is there a tension between the normativity of reasons and the normativity of fittingness?
Moral philosophy: moral affordances
Another strand of this research in moral philosophy focuses on moral affordances, which I interpret as opportunities for fitting action.
This project draws on the psychological literature on affordances. Affordances are commonly interpreted as opportunities for action. I draw on this body of research to gain new insights into moral perception and moral action.
Past research projects: overview
Health equity: what makes social inequalities in health unjust?
Normative uncertainty: does normative uncertainty affect what counts as acting for good reasons?