Political Theory

I specialize in the political philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr. and in the proper place for fear, anger, shame, and other strong emotions in our politics.

DISSERTATION

My dissertation is titled, “How Political Action Shapes the Actor: The Political Theory of Martin Luther King Jr.”

Philosophers and political theorists tend to encounter King as an advocate for nonviolence or civil disobedience. Or we encounter him as a case study for one of two things: 1) empirical arguments about whether (and when) violence is effective, or 2) normative arguments about whether (and when) violence is ethically permissible. 

However, when King addresses violence or civil disobedience, his answers imply a different set of questions. King does not start by asking, “does violence work?” Or, “under what conditions is violence allowable?” He asks “what does it do to you when you hate someone enough to hurt him?” More broadly, King asks of any act: “how will this act form or deform you as a person?” I believe these questions, and others like them, are ripe for recovery both in normative theory and in the practical politics of our moment. 

Resume/CV

PUBLICATIONS

Books

Only Small Things Are Good or The Open Letter (Santa Fe, NM: Pagescape Press, 2018)

Teaching Reason to Sing (in progress)

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Paper on how Noah Webster was influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (under review after invited resubmission), draft available on request

Book Reviews

On Mystery, Ineffability, Silence and Musical Symbolism, by Laurence Wuidar Augustinian Studies, November 2022

The Cambridge Companion to Augustine’s Confessions, Ed. Tarmo Toom, Augustinian Studies, October 2021 

The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data by Michael P. Lynch, First Things, July 2016

Republic of Spin by David Greenberg, First Things, February 2016

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age by Sherry Turkle, First Things, November, 2015