Currently, my main research project focuses on freedom of expression. Traditionally, freedom of expression has been identified with freedom of speech: roughly, intentional communication of cognitive attitudes. However, many significant forms of self-expression do not necessarily constitute speech in that sense. These include behaviors which manifest, or make intelligible, a person’s practical identities, such as gender, religious, sexual, or cultural identities. Broadly, my aim is to develop a novel account and defense of free expression which foregrounds these kinds of self-expression without collapsing freedom of expression into a general liberty right. More specifically, I defend freedom of self-expression on the grounds that expressive freedom is a necessary condition or constituent of interpersonal relationships we have reason to value in themselves. In particular, these include relationships of authenticity and recognition. One implication of my view is that many forms of self-expression, ranging from gender policing to hairstyle discrimination, qualify for heightened protection from collective interference in virtue of being expressive even when they don’t constitute speech in the traditional sense.
More generally, relational equality is a unifying theme in my work. For example, within bioethics, I’ve written about the difference between the medical and social models of disability, and how this intersects in interesting ways with recent philosophical work on the distinction between distributive and relational conceptions of equality. My next project in bioethics focuses on the state’s justice obligations with respect to its citizens’ mental health. The project’s main case study is mental health disparities between LGBTQ people and the general population. Similarly, in philosophy and political economy, I’ve written about the substantive distributive implications of the abstract ideal that persons should relate as equals. For example, I’ve defended a conception of poverty as a social relation analogous in certain important respects to gender. I’ve also analyzed the wrongfulness of gentrification-induced displacement in terms of a nexus of domination. More information about these papers can be found here.
Most of my philosophical work has taken the form of analytical writing. But sometimes I’ve tried to do philosophy in other ways. While in graduate school, I collaborated with Yale School of Drama students on two original, philosophically-themed productions performed at the Yale Cabaret: Creation 2011 and Dilemma! (2013). More recently, I wrote a short story on the ethical dimensions of folk-psychological eliminativism, “Boxed,” which appeared in Philosophy and Literature (2019).