academic publications

“Transformations of Work and Democratic Decay.” European Journal of Political Theory, (August 2021).

Abstract: Democracies worldwide are under stress. Two distinct families of explanation can be identified by the relative emphasis they place on the cultural versus the economic. Protesting against this dichotomy, there are those who insist that economic and cultural grievances interact. A conceptual scheme which ties together the economic and the cultural through interaction, however, rests on a prior separation. In this article, a richer and more plausible account of the relationship between transformations of work and contemporary democratic decay is developed. This account is based on a social practice model of work, on which the economic and the cultural are entirely intertwined. The social practice of work is among other things a privileged site for the realisation of certain ‘goods of work’. These include self-respect, self-esteem, and self-realisation. It is by altering expectations about the realisation of the goods of work that transformations of work have contributed to an environment within which democracies are under stress.

working papers

Available upon request.

“Reasons to care: On the relationship between the maldistribution and devaluation of care and what to do about it”

Abstract: We are often told that we are soon approaching a crisis of care. According to conventional wisdom, the care-deficit is a result of a devaluation of care-work. On this view, we need better support for carers. I argue that an equally important part of the explanation is that care has historically been assigned to marginalised populations; women and racialised others. Its maldistribution must be understood as a consequence but also a cause of its undervaluation. Attempts at dealing with the undervaluation of care that do not address the ideological division of care labour could in fact reinforce its maldistribution, thereby undermining the attempt to raise its esteem. To organise the collective responsibility for care in a way which would both more fairly distribute its burdens and recognise the value of caretaking, we must disrupt its social coding. I propose that a civic caring service is uniquely suited to achieve this.

“A right to break the law? On the political function and moral grounds of civil disobedience”

Abstract: Do citizens of liberal democratic states have a moral right to engage in civil disobedience? Famously, Joseph Raz argued that they do not. I defend his argument against some recent challenges, but I show how it is tied to a particular model of civil disobedience, a model according to which its purpose is to protest and prevent particularly egregious violations of justice. A moral right to civil disobedience can be grounded on another model of civil disobedience, where the function of protest is to identify and counterbalance democratic deficits. Against the widespread tendency amongst theorists of civil disobedience to want to defend civil disobedience as the exercise of a moral right, however, I do not then argue for the adoption of the democratic model. Whilst I acknowledge the reasons behind wanting a rights-based defence and concede that different kinds of civil disobedience might have to be defended on different grounds, I sound a note of caution. The meta-theoretical relation between moral grounds and political function uncovered in this article works both ways, and it should make theorists more mindful of the self-understanding to which a rightsbased moral defence of civil disobedience commits protesters.

Dialectical Myth of the Fall

Abstract: This article reinterprets the Dialectic of Enlightenment as a retelling of the Christian myth of the Fall. Through its account of the aporia which Horkheimer and Adorno maintains stands at its core, the work rearticulates the doctrine of original sin. The human condition is presented as tragic, and the source of this tragedy is inscribed into the very structure of human subjectivity. Whilst the Dialectic of Enlightenment refuses to abandon hope, emancipation is reconceptualised on the model of redemption; a kind of fulfilment of human nature which would at the same time be an escape from it. Horkheimer and Adorno dispense, however, with the any transcendent source of grace. Instead, the activity of philosophy itself takes on redemptive quality.