Political Theory, Methodology
303 Hamilton Hall
About: I grew up in a small town in western Wisconsin and earned my BA in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2013. I started in the Ph.D. program at Carolina in 2014, where I study political theory and methodology. I completed my MA in 2016, defending a master’s thesis with two main contentions: against most political theorists, I maintain that government paternalism (roughly, the government interfering with an individual’s liberty for that individual’s own good) is sometimes justifiable; and against the few defenders of paternalism I argue that government paternalism cannot be convincingly justified on the bases of liberty or reason. My developing dissertation will provide a theory of political justification that explains why so many of us seem to approve of paternalism in our daily lives and differentiates between justifiable and unjustifiable instances of paternalism.
My work on paternalism is just one of my topics of interest, which are roughly held together by my commitment to taking seriously the beliefs and circumstances of real people in the real world, rather than building theories from foundations in the preferences and beliefs of idealized hypothetical agents. My research generally disrespects traditional disciplinary boundaries. I’m very broadly curious, with past and present projects covering a wide variety of topics in fields as diverse as religious studies, philosophy, economics, American politics, and political theory. My teaching experience is similarly diverse, including one-on-one and small-group tutoring in technical writing, creative writing, economics, classical and modern philosophy, statistics and calculus at the University of Wisconsin and American politics and political theory at the University of North Carolina.