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Research Interests

My primary research interests lie in social philosophy. I'm interested in the ways we conceptualize and categorize relationships, and what kinds of obligations (if any) specific types of relationships impose on those who participate in them. I'm also interested in how new forms of social life, like internet communities, push the boundaries of how we understand relationships.

You can read more about my current projects below.

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"Philosophy & Friendship," invited talk in the University of Kentucky "Philosophy and Modern Life" speaker series, January 2023.

Works in Progress

Drafts of all works in progress are available upon request.

"Creating Communities: Towards a Robust Account of Thick Trust"

This paper examines the nature of thick trust, to determine its role in facilitating community relationships. Section I contends that there are two distinct accounts of thick trust in the existing social theory literature, and distinguishes the two. Section II argues that thick trust facilitates community relationships by bridging a gap between an internal sense of kinship and external social engagement. Section III articulates two necessary conditions for the development of community-constituting thick trust.

"Harm and Obligation in Parasocial Relationships"

This paper builds an account of the moral dimensions of parasocial relationships. I argue that these relationships can harm in both directions, when one party treats the other merely as a source of gain to which they are entitled. Insofar as parasocial relationships can harm in this way, those who participate in them have an obligation to avoid doing so. However, this obligation is merely general. Even if interpersonal relationships generate unique moral obligations, those obligations do not extend to parasocial relationships. Parasocial relationships are distinct from the interpersonal because the latter are mediated by the artist’s persona. Therefore, the illusory “intimacy” in such relationships cannot ground unique moral responsibilities.

"The Role of Authority Structures in Building Classroom Community"

This paper considers the role that authority structures play in facilitating the development of classroom communities. Work in critical pedagogy has argued that traditional authority roles in the student/teacher relationship ought to be subverted, on the grounds that these roles fail to empower students as epistemic subjects. However, I suggest that subverting these roles may undermine the development of inclusive educational communities. Research in social theory has shown that communities are built upon group commonalities, such as shared histories and values; however, these commonalities may not initially exist in the contemporary classroom. This can have negative implications for students in the minority, both socially and epistemically. I suggest that instructors can leverage their positions of authority to establish group values for their classrooms, and extend epistemic authority to students who otherwise may not be granted it. This allows for the growth of an educational community in which all students are empowered and respected.

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