My primary research interests are at the intersection of normative ethics, moral psychology, philosophy of race, and feminist philosophy. I'm particularly interested in exploring dimensions of what Iris Murdoch called the inner moral life, as well as how living under oppression changes the moral evaluation of one's actions and moral attitudes. Below on the left I have an outline of my dissertation which is currently in progress. On the right side are some papers in progress.
Perceiving through the racial veil:
Beautiful Arrogance (under review)
In this paper I examine the attitude of arrogance in contexts of oppression, attempting to do three things. The first is to give an account of the moral psychology of arrogance, where arrogance is understood as believing oneself to be more important than others. The second is to utilize this account of arrogance to illuminate why people of historically oppressed groups are often called arrogant, even when they are not acting in a way that reflects the attitude of arrogance. Toward that end I present three possible explanations, two attend to the reasons why the viewers may believe these people are arrogant and one aims to understand the consequences of this practice, concluding that this practice reflects and reinforces the undervaluing of oppressed peoples. Third, I argue that in cases where oppressed people are arrogant it is not necessarily bad, but all things considered good due to its role in resisting oppression.
Gender Affirmation and Loving Attention (under review)
In this paper I examine the moral dimensions of gender affirmation. My contention is that a significant amount of gender affirmation's moral value lies in what Iris Murdoch called loving attention. I argue that loving attention is necessary for gender affirmation to have moral value because it is otherwise too fragile or insincere to have such value. Moral reasons to engage in acts that gender affirm will come from wanting to reflect this loving attention to trans folx as a way of challenging their marginalization. In the latter part of the paper, I will see how my arguments bear on recent work by Robin Dembroff and Daniel Wodak on the use of gender-neutral language. In their paper, “He/She/They/Ze” they argue that we have a duty to gender neutralize English, such that we use no gendered pronouns whatsoever. (This conclusion turns, in part, on their rejecting gender affirmation as a moral duty.) I hope to show that my arguments should make us skeptical of this conclusion, in favor of perhaps a more nuanced and pluralistic approach to the ethics of gendering.
Much has been said about the semantics and pragmatics of slurs. However, in many of these accounts there has been underwhelming explanations of an important part of slurs in our society: the fact that they are often reclaimed by their former targets. My contention is that to understand how slurs are reclaimed, one must first attend--not to the semantics of slurs--but how they oppress the marginalized. I provide an account of this where slurs reinforce what Sandra Bartky has called psychological oppression, which leads to a divided self or double-consciousness. I then go on to examine various aspects of how slurs have been reclaimed in the past to show that reclamation projects are aimed at undermining this oppressive effect by subverting the power of definition that privileged groups hold over words. It is through this subversion that one can reunify one's self, albeit partially.