My CV is here.


“Modification of the Reactive Attitudes,” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (or here)
In “Freedom and Resentment” P. F. Strawson argues that reactive attitudes like resentment and indignation cannot be eliminated altogether, because doing so would involve exiting interpersonal relationships altogether. I describe an alternative to resentment: a form of moral sadness about wrongdoing that, I argue, preserves our participation in interpersonal relationships. Substituting this moral sadness for resentment and indignation would amount to a deep and far-reaching change in the way we relate to each other—while keeping in place the interpersonal relationships, which, Strawson rightfully believes, cannot be eliminated.

Current research

“Annulment” –updated 3/2018
Seen on a New Haven Sidewalk

The suggestion that criminal punishment can annul wrongdoing is often the subject of philosophical ridicule. It seems plainly impossible to act, now, to have an impact on some wrongful action that has already occurred. I disagree. In this paper I argue that annulment is a logical and metaphysical possibility. In the course of that argument, I develop a schematic account of the features of the past that can be annulled. The key is contextual dependence: features of a past event that depend on the event’s later context can be affected at a later time, by altering that later context. Building on this account and Jean Hampton's feminist account of punishment, I identify a limited but genuine sense in which wrongdoing can be annulled by punishment.

“Beyond Excuse and Exemption” –updated 11/2014 (a work in progress; comments especially welcome)
I argue that the standard Strawsonian analysis of resentment-undermining considerations into “excuses” (which show that an agent acted with better attitudes than we might otherwise think) and “exemptions” (which exempt someone from engaged, demanding interpersonal relationships altogether) is too limited. I identify two additional ways in which resentment and related reactive attitudes can be undermined. With this expansion in place, the Strawsonian framework is able to account for a range of otherwise problematic cases. But this expansion also makes room for the truth of determinism to once again threaten to undermine our moral responsibility practices.


My dissertation examines the ethics of response to wrongdoing. It is available here.

The first four chapters examine anger or hatred directed at a wrongdoer. Some philosophers defend such responses by pointing to the important roles they play in social life. For instance: in his famous paper “Freedom and Resentment,” P. F. Strawson points out the strong connection between participating in an ordinary interpersonal relationship with a person, demanding goodwill of her, and experiencing resentment if she should violate that demand. Resentment plays a vital role in our interpersonal relationships.

I argue that Strawson’s defense—along with others which involve similar appeals to the important roles filled by angry, hateful, or resentful attitudes—is significantly weaker than it at first appears, because these important social roles can equally well be filled by nonantagonistic responses. A sharpened form of sadness can, for instance, play the very same role as resentment in our engaged relationships.

I then turn to criminal punishment, and the retributivist thought that punishment annuls or cancels out criminal wrongdoing. In the final chapter I argue that we can annul past wrongdoing through criminal punishment, no matter how strange (or downright incoherent) talk of altering the past may initially appear.

Free Will and Fire Engines
Free Will and Fire Engines