"Pluralist Partially Comprehensive Doctrines, Moral Motivation, and the Problem of Stability" (PDF/JOURNAL) Res Publica, November 2017, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 409–429.
Recent scholarship has drawn attention to John Rawls’s concern with stability—a concern that, as Rawls himself notes, motivated Part III of A Theory of Justice and some of the more important changes of his political turn. For Rawls, the possibility of achieving “stability for the right reasons” depends on citizens possessing sufficient moral motivation. I argue, however, that the moral psychology Rawls develops to show how such motivation would be cultivated and sustained does not cohere with his specific descriptions of “pluralist (partially comprehensive)” doctrines. Considering Rawls’s claims that “most” citizens—both in contemporary liberal democracies and in the well-ordered society—possess such doctrines, this incompatibility threatens to undermine his stability arguments. Despite the enormous importance of pluralist doctrines and the potential difficulties they pose for Rawls’s project, remarkably little attention has been paid to them. By critically examining these difficulties, the article begins to address this oversight.
"What’s in a World? Du Bois and Heidegger on Politics, Aesthetics, and Foundings" (PDF) Contemporary Political Theory (forthcoming)
I advance three basic claims in this article. First, I argue that central to WEB Du Bois’s political theory is a conception of “world” remarkably similar to that put forward, years later, by Martin Heidegger. This point is more methodological than historical: I claim that approaching Du Bois’s work as a source (rather than a product) of concepts that resonate with subsequent thinkers allows us to better appreciate his novelty and vision, regardless of his actual influence. Second, I argue that reading Du Bois and Heidegger together helps us to refine the notions of world and world-founding present in each. Finally, I exploit these refined concepts to challenge Robert Gooding-Williams’s influential interpretation of Du Bois’s early work. Pace Gooding-Williams, I argue that Du Bois's aim was not black assimilation to an American world somehow shorn of its prejudicial bearings but, more radically, a complete re-founding of the American world.
"What's the Problem with Geo-engineering?" (PDF) Revise and resubmit with Social Theory and Practice
Before long, geo-engineering may offer the most cost-effective option for preventing further harm from climate change. Should this be the case, utilitarians and liberals will have difficulty explaining the sense of aversion and tragedy many feel about intentionally manipulating the climate. Appeals to precaution only partially explain these feelings. For a fuller picture, we need a thicker conception of the proper values and ends of political society than “neutralitarian” liberal or utilitarian theories offer. To this end, I examine how Buddhist and classical Greek notions of temperance, justice, and freedom bear on the question of geo-engineering. My intention is not to pronounce on whether geo-engineering is morally “right” or “wrong,” but to highlight reasons for thinking it ethically unattractive in a broader sense, thereby strengthening the case for exhausting conventional emissions-reductions options.
"Allocating the Burdens of Climate Action: Consumption-based Carbon Accounting and the Polluter-Pays Principle" (PDF/LINK) Transformative Climates and Accountable Governance, eds. Beth Edmondson and Stuart Gray, Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 157-194.
Action must be taken to combat climate change. Yet, how the costs of climate action should be allocated among states remains a question. One popular answer—the polluter-pays principle (PPP)—stipulates that those responsible for causing the problem should pay to address it. While intuitively plausible, in recent years, the PPP has been subject to withering criticism. In this paper, I develop a new version of the PPP. Unlike most accounts, which focus on historical production-based emissions, mine allocates climate burdens in proportion to each state’s annual consumption-based emissions. This change in carbon accounting results in a fairer and more environmentally effective principle. Yet, the revised PPP is incomplete in one key respect: it cannot allocate burdens in the (distant) future, when climate change endures but consumption emissions are low. I therefore supplement it with an ability-to-pay principle. The end-result is a pluralist, bi-phasic account of climate justice that covers all the major climate burdens while remaining sensitive to states’ differing contributions and capacities.
The Oxford Handbook of International Climate Change Law edited by Cinnamon Carlarne, Kevin R. Gray, and Richard Tarasofsky, Political Studies Review, Nov. 2017, Vol. 15, No. 4.
The Triumph of Emptiness by Mats Alvesson, Political Studies Review, February 2016, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 63-4.
Justification and Critique by Rainer Forst, Political Studies Review, November 2015, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 566-7.
Lectures on the History of Moral and Political Philosophy by GA Cohen, Political Studies Review, August 2015, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 397-8.
Dispossession: The Performative in the Political by Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou, Political Studies Review, February 2015, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 82-3.
Finding Oneself in the Other by GA Cohen, Political Studies Review, January 2014, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 92-3. (Excerpt featured on Princeton University Press book website)