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I am a philosopher who teaches at Johns Hopkins University. I work on German Idealism, social and political philosophy, practical reason, philosophy and literature, and the history of 19th century thought.



My research is centered on the German philosophical tradition that began with Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. I am inspired by this movement’s concern with the concept of freedom and the systematic unity of reason, especially in the work of J.G. Fichte and G.W.F. Hegel. I have published a study of Hegel's theory of practical reason, Hegel's Conscience, which shows how Hegel anticipated issues in contemporary metaethics. Nearly all my work engages closely with historical texts and with problems being discussed by philosophers today. I believe we read the historical texts better with contemporary tools, and also that these texts have much to teach us about our current approaches.

I have been working out the implications for practical philosophy of the new conception of rationality pioneered by Hegel. This inferentialist conception, which has been developed by Wilfrid Sellars and worked out recently by Robert Brandom, gives us a way to be rationalists without sacrificing the rich texture of experience. My second book, Hegel's Value: Justice as the Living Good, is a close study of Hegel’s political philosophy based on a new inferentialist interpretation of his theory of value. I am currently working on a study of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit that focuses on the unity of theoretical and practical reason.


One of my long-term projects is to reassess nineteenth century American thought as a dialogue with the German philosophical tradition. A first step in this project is a forthcoming article on the women philosophers of American transcendentalism, focusing on the contributions of Mary Moody Emerson, Elizabeth Peabody, and Margaret Fuller. I am also editing a volume on Moby-Dick for the Oxford Studies in Philosophy and Literature series. I believe that Melville and Emily Dickinson are two of America’s great philosophers, and I am interested in exploring how their forms of expression intersect with more traditional philosophical claim-making.


I teach introductory undergraduate courses, including Philosophic Classics and Foundations of Modern Political Philosophy, a wide range of intermediate courses, and graduate seminars on German philosophy.

I am currently advising a number of advanced graduate students and am open to new students who are passionate about philosophy.

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