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I am a moral, legal, and political philosopher and a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Southern California. I also have research interests in metaethics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of religion.


My current research focuses on the question how we should respond to harm and the threat of harm. This is the subject of my dissertation (chaired by Jonathan Quong and Mark Schroeder), which addresses such questions as: 

  • When and why may we harm someone to defend ourselves or others?

  • When should we (not) protect people from harm who don’t want our protection?

  • When and why may the state impose harm as punishment?

  • When does someone owe compensation for past harms? 

  • Who should we save from harm when we can only save some?



  • The Demands of Necessity (Ethics, forthcoming) --- It is widely believed that there is both a "proportionality" and "necessity" constraint on self-defense. You shouldn't kill someone in self-defense who is only trying to pinch you on the arm; that would be disproportionate. But even when an attacker poses a lethal threat, you shouldn't kill them in self-defense if you can just as well stop their attack with less-than-lethal force; killing them would then be unnecessary. This paper develops an explanation, precisification, and unification of the proportionality and necessity constraints. Unjust attackers would be required to bear a certain amount of cost to avert their own attack were they able. This in turn determines what others may do to them: an attacker can only be made to bear as much cost to avert their attack as they would be required to take upon themselves. The proportionality and necessity constraints, I argue, both express this fundamental principle, only at different levels of generality.

  • Refusing Protection (Philosophy & Public Affairs, forthcoming) --- You're under attack. I offer my protection. You refuse it. It seems that such refusal can sometimes make it wrong for me to protect you. Why? This paper defends an unorthodox answer to this question, and explores the implications for the ethics of humanitarian interventions. By refusing my protection --- I argue --- you remove me from the class of people with respect to whom your attacker is liable, thereby making it so that your attacker is not liable to suffer defensive harm at my hands.

under review

  • Fixing Aggregation --- Who should we save when we can only save some? Many theorists want to have their cake and eat it too: they want to claim that some, but only some less serious harms can trade off against more serious harms. They want to claim, for example, that there is no number of people we could save from a papercut that would justify letting one person die, but that there is some number of people we could save from losing one leg that would justify letting one person lose both his legs. Standard attempts to deliver this result appeal to differences in degree of harm. I argue that this approach is untenable, and that we'd do better to appeal to difference in kind.

  • The Price of Duty --- A fire fighter causes extensive damage to your property in order to prevent the spread of a nearby forest fire. It is widely believed that state officials should not have to personally pay compensation for such damages caused in the line of duty. This paper explains why state officials enjoy this immunity from compensatory duty, and unpacks the limits of this immunity.

  • Finding the Missing Moorean Infelicity (Discussion Note) --- It's plainly infelicitous to say, "It's raining, but I don't believe it's raining." Some metaethicists have argued that if Metaethical Expressivism is true, then we should get a similar infelicity when we conjoin moral statements with the denial of being in some non-cognitive state (for example: "Murder is wrong but I don't disapprove of murder"). But this isn't plainly infelicitous. Enter Nils Franzen, who has argued that the non-cognitive state Expressivism needs is the state picked out by the 'finds that...' locution. This note argues that Franzen's argument does not succeed.

under construction
  • "Mistaken Defense and Liability" --- In the real world, defensive harm is often employed under conditions of limited or false information. There are "false positives": I think you're trying to kill me, but you're really not (perhaps I've been misled by false testimony, or you're bluffing, or your gun happens to be jammed). There are also "false negatives": I think you're merely reaching for your handkerchief when you're really reaching for a knife. I argue that no extant theory of defensive morality can accommodate a certain set of cases involving various false positives and false negatives --- before developing a theory that can.

  • "Fitting Punishment" --- It is often said that "the punishment should fit the crime". Should it? No, I argue. Instead, the punishment should fit the obligations the offender incurs by way of his crime. This paper defends and develops this alternative conception of "fitting punishment".

  • "The Justifier Pays Principle" --- Do we ever owe compensation for harms we neither caused nor are responsible for? Many theorists have thought that we do, on the grounds that a person may owe compensation for some harm simply by benefitting from that harm. I agree that beneficiaries sometimes owe compensation. But this isn't because they receive benefit. Rather, it is typically because it is their interests that justify that harm. We should reject the so-called "Beneficiary Pays Principle" and endorse what I call the "Justifier Pays Principle".

  • "When Border Defense is Indefensible" (co-authored with Thomas Crisp) --- Nations control their borders but such means as fences, detention, deportation, and threats of violence. Many of these practices impose harm: would-be migrants are harmed in an alleged effort to protect the interests of the "authorized" residents of receiving nations. Such treatment calls out for justification. The most plausible justifications (we claim) are those that draw parallels with cases of ordinary self-defense. Applying our best theories of the moral limits of defensive harm to the case of immigration, we develop a sorting between immigration restrictions that wrong would-be migrants and those that don't.

  • "Liability for Autonomous Vehicles" (co-authored with Frank Hong) --- Sometimes it is obvious who should cover the costs of damages caused by autonomous vehicles. If the crash is the result of negligence on the part of the manufacturer, she should pay. And if the crash is the result of negligence on the part of the user, he should pay. But what if the crash is not the product of negligence on anyone's part -- should the costs fall on the manufacturer or the user? Neither, we argue. Assuming that road safety is improved by the proliferation of autonomous vehicles, we argue that the associated non-negligent costs should be shared by the entire pool of road users. This is because distributive justice requires that people share the costs of cooperative projects they are required to participate in, and road users are required to participate in the project of road safety.



as primary instructor
  • The Philosophy of Markets, Money, and Property (Summer 2022, USC). 

This course is a tour through various conceptual and ethical issues concerning markets, money, and property. The course explores such questions as: What is money and how should we handle it? What are cryptocurrencies and what are their benefits and risks? What markets systems are morally best? What parts of an economy should be left to private individuals, and what should be left to public policy? What economic obligations do nations have to one another and to the citizens of other nations? What is ownership, and what sorts of ownership regimes are best? [Syllabus]​

  • Ethics in the 21st Century (Summer 2019, USC, w. Andrew Stewart)

This course explores some of the most prominent ethical issues of the 21st century (so far). For example: corporate responsibility, democracy, voting rights, political polarization, punishment, reparations, war, immigration, privacy, abortion, artificial intelligence, environmental conservation, and our duties towards future generations. [Syllabus] [Handout sampler some companion slides]

as discussion instructor/teaching assistant

       [Discussion section handout sampler + some companion slides]

  • Philosophy of Law (Spring 2021, USC, w. Scott Soames)​

Subjects covered: nature of law, legal legitimacy, the nature of rights, legal interpretation, and philosophical issues in American Constitutional and Administrative law. 

  • Ethical Theory & Practice (Fall 2020, USC, w. Robin Jeshion)​

Subjects covered: normative ethical theories, animal ethics, pandemic ethics, justice, mass incarceration, reparations, misogyny, affirmative action, free speech/hate speech/cancel culture, "faith in humanity". 

  • Philosophy of Law (Spring 2020, USC, w. Scott Soames)​

As in 2021 section (above).

  • Moral Issues in the Legal Domain (Spring 2019, USC, w. John Hawthorne)

Subjects covered: nature of law, rights, consequentialism, punishment, insanity defense, self-defense, rules of evidence, product liability, privacy, free speech, death penalty, right to bear arms, citizenship, civil disobedience, drug laws.

  • Freedom, Equality, and Justice (Fall 2018, USC, w. Jonathan Quong)​​​

Subjects covered: nature of legitimate authority and political obligation, justice, Rawls, libertarianism, freedom and taxes/money/property, socialism, crime and punishment, justice and gender/the family, religion and politics, global justice, immigration, justice and past generation, justice and future generations. 

  • Epistemology (Spring 2017, Northern Illinois, w. Geoff Pynn)

Subjects covered: skepticism, rationalism, empiricism, analysis of knoweldge, internalism v. externalism, testimony, evidentialism, pragmatism, perception, inference, experts, gossip, rumor, conspiracy theories, epistemology and the media. 

  • Introduction to Philosophy (Fall 2016, Northern Illinois, w. Mylan Engel)

Subjects covered: logic, epistemology, normative ethics, applied ethics, freedom and determinism, philosophy of religion. 

  • Contemporary Moral Issues (Spring 2016, Northern Illinois, w. Nicoleta Apostol)

Subjects covered: normative ethical theories, relativism, metaethical theories, drug legalization, gun control, judicial review, freedom of speech, euthanasia, marriage, affirmative action, in-vitro fertilization, cloning, animal ethics. 

  • Logic (Fall 2015, Northern Illinois, w. John Beaudoin)

Subjects covered: deductive arguments, non-deductive arguments, possible worlds, forms of proof, fallacies, probability, causal reasoning, appeals to the best explanation, propositional logic, categorical logic. 


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