"A Dynamic Collapse Concept for Climate Change" (with Daniel Steel, Giulia Belotti, and Kian Mintz-Woo) [PDF/JOURNAL]
Environmental Values, 2024

Despite growing interest in risks of societal collapse due to anthropogenic climate change, there exists no consensus about how collapse should be understood. In this article, we critically examine existing definitions and argue that none adequately address the challenges for conceptualizing collapse that climate change presents. We therefore propose an alternative conception, which regards collapse as a reduction of collective capacity resulting in a pervasive and difficult-to-reverse loss of basic functionality. Our conception is dynamic in that it focuses on the interrelations of constituent subsystems. It also distinguishes collapse from transformations needed to address climate change and provides insight into the relationship between collapse and sustainability.

"Political legitimacy, authoritarianism, and climate change" [JOURNAL]
American Political Science Review, 2022, Vol. 116, No. 3, pp. 998-1011

Is authoritarian power ever legitimate? The contemporary political theory literature-which largely conceptualizes legitimacy in terms of democracy or basic rights-would seem to suggest not. I argue, however, that there exists another, overlooked aspect of legitimacy, concerning a government's ability to ensure safety and security. While, under normal conditions, maintaining democracy and rights is typically compatible with guaranteeing safety, in emergency situations, conflicts between these two aspects of legitimacy can and often do arise. A salient example of this is the COVID-19 pandemic, during which severe limitations on free movement and association have become legitimate techniques of government. Climate change poses an even graver threat to public safety. Consequently, I argue, legitimacy may require a similarly authoritarian approach. While unsettling, this suggests the political importance of climate action. For if we wish to avoid legitimating authoritarian power, we must act to prevent crises from arising that can only be resolved by such means.

"Material Scarcity & Scalar Justice" (with Matthew Adams) [JOURNAL]
Philosophical Studies, 2021, Vol. 178, No.7, pp. 2237-2256.

We defend a scalar theory of the relationship between material scarcity and justice. As scarcity increases beyond a specified threshold, we argue that deontological egalitarian constraints should be gradually relaxed and consequentialist considerations should increasingly determine distributions. We construct this theory by taking a bottom-up approach that is guided by principles of medical triage. Armed with this theory, we consider the range of conditions under which justice (of any form) applies. We argue that there are compelling reasons for thinking that justice applies under a far broader range of conditions than is standardly supposed, including those that could sensibly be labelled as conditions of extreme rather than moderate scarcity.

"Ranking the Regimes in Aristotle's Politics: The Four Principles Approach" [JOURNAL]
The Review of Politics, Winter 2021, Vol. 83, No.1, pp. 1-20.

There is a long-standing debate over which constitution Aristotle regards as best in Politics. I attempt to clarify his view by reconstructing four principles he uses to assess constitutions, in both ideal and more ordinary circumstances: (i) the supremacy-of-virtue principle, (ii) the more-virtuous-citizens-are-better-than-fewer principle, (iii) the equality principle, and (iv) the stability principle. I apply these principles to defend a rank-ordering of constitutions, which situates the ideal aristocracy of Books VII and VIII at the top, and tyranny, along with unmixed forms of democracy and oligarchy, at the bottom.

​​"​What's the Problem with Geo-engineering?" [JOURNAL]
Social Theory and Practice, July 2019, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 471-499.

Many feel a sense of aversion and tragedy about proposals for engineering the climate. Precautionary concerns only partly explain these feelings. For a fuller understanding, we need a thicker conception of the values and ends of political society than “neutralitarian” political theories offer. To this end, I examine how Buddhist and 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 unattractive in a broader sense, thereby strengthening the case for exhausting conventional emissions-reductions options.

"What’s in a World? Du Bois and Heidegger on Politics, Aesthetics, and Foundings" [PDF/JOURNAL]
Contemporary Political Theory, June 2019, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 180-201.

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.

"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.