Research

Most of my current work relates to the justification of representative democracy. Currently, I am working with Dimitri Landa on a book manuscript tentatively entitled Representative Democracy without Apology. It is a work of political theory that builds upon and engages with scholarship in different areas of social science, most notably political economy and allied fields.

Despite the not so distant invocations of the “end of history,” representative democracy is, today, under siege even from corners where one once might have expected strong sympathy and support. Indeed, confidence in representative democracy has, in recent years, been shaken by the economic and political performance of many such regimes. The main goal of our book is to explain why the definitive institutional features of representative democracy — the electoral selection of policymaking officials who are independent in the interim between elections — are attractive relative to salient alternatives (including direct democracy, lottery-based systems, and meritocratic alternatives). Our explanation turns on novel arguments that connect the distinctive institutional features of representative democracy to important epistemic and stability-based benefits. The central idea is to explain why representative democracy is a distinctively attractive institutional arrangement, rather than — as it is often perceived to be — a pale and unattractive stand-in for more robust and genuine forms of democratic government. This is important not just as a response to those who argue for the superiority of an alternative regime type, but also because our account of a well-functioning system of representative democracy provides a normative ideal against which proposed reforms can be evaluated.

Arguments connected to this project have appeared in The Journal of Political Philosophy and American Political Science Review. Links to those articles, as well as my older published work can be found below.

Book:

Immigration and the Constraints of Justice Cambridge University Press (2011).

Articles:

‘Is Random Selection a Cure for the Ills of Electoral Representation?’ (with Dimitri Landa) The Journal of Political Philosophy 29/1, 2021 (Ungated).

‘The Failure of Instrumental Arguments for a Human Right to Democracy’ The Journal of Political Philosophy 28/1, 2020.

‘Representative Democracy as Defensible Epistocracy’ (with Dimitri Landa) American Political Science Review 114/1, 2020 (Ungated).

‘Should Campaign Finance Reform Aim to Level the Playing Field?’ Politics, Philosophy & Economics 18/4, 2019 (Ungated).

‘The Anatomy of Debate about Campaign Finance’ The Journal of Politics 78/4, 2016.

‘Does the Egalitarian Rationale for Campaign Finance Reform Succeed?’ Philosophy & Public Affairs 44/1, 2016.

‘Should Civil Liberties have Strict Priority?’ Law & Philosophy 34/5, 2015.

‘Immigration, Jurisdiction, & History’ (with Michael Kates) Philosophy & Public Affairs 42/2, 2014.

‘Are There Good Procedural Objections to Judicial Review?’ (with Kathleen Doherty) The Journal of Politics 76/1, 2014.

‘Democratizing the Nonprofit Sector’ The Journal of Political Philosophy 21/3, 2013.

‘The Lockean Case for Religious Tolerance: The Social Contract and the Irrationality of Persecution’ Political Studies 57/4, 2009.

‘Social Trust & the Ethics of Immigration Policy’ The Journal of Political Philosophy 17/2, 2009.

‘Collective Ownership and the Morality of Immigration Restrictions’ A Response to Risse.  Ethics & International Affairs 22/3, 2008.

‘Political Coercion & the Scope of Distributive Justice’ Political Studies 56/2, 2008.

‘Obligations of Fair Play & Foreigners’ The Journal of Political Philosophy 14/2, 2006.

Book Chapter:

‘Philanthropy & the Democratic Ideal’ in Philanthropy in Democratic Societies eds. L. Bernholz, C. Cordelli, and R. Reich (University of Chicago Press, 2016), pp. 226-243.