The central focus of my work is the notion of agency and its moral significance. My research—at the intersection of political philosophy, normative ethics and social ontology—explores the ways in which agency and its free exercise can impose moral demands on us as individuals and as collectives. I argue, and this is the thread that can be found holding together most of my research interests, that the value we ascribe to our own agency, as human agents, explains a great deal of what we owe to other agents, be they individuals or collectives.
2021. “The Wrongs of Inegalitarian Relations.” In Autonomy and Equality. Relational Approaches, edited by Kristin Voigt and Natalie Stoljar. Routledge.
2021. "Understanding the Right to Health in the Context of Collective Rights to Self-Determination." Bioethics 35(8):725-733.
The obligations set by the individual right to health are likely to conflict, at least if states are its addressee, with the obligations set by the collective rights to self‐determination that certain sub‐state communities have (or should be recognized). In this paper, I argue that conceiving of the right to health and of collective rights to self‐determination as both aiming at the promotion of individual agency might help us alleviate this particular problem. To do so, I first explain how we can conceive of the right to health and of collective rights to self‐determination as protecting crucial aspects of individuals' agency. It is because both health and the capacity to participate in particular collectives are important ways in which our agency is enabled. I then argue that this conception of the purpose of those rights offers a principle to guide our practical deliberation when the protection of health and the protection of collective self‐determination seem to conflict. Finally, I specify how I think this principle might guide us when it comes to understanding the obligations that the right to health sets for the state towards members of selfdetermining sub‐state communities, both in terms of the provision of healthcare goods and services and the provision of the underlying determinants of health.
2018. “L’histoire des idées politiques comme méthode critique: une approche wittgensteinienne.” In Les Méthodes en philosophie politique, edited by Magali Bessone, 43-61. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes.
Les philosophes politiques contemporains font très souvent usage de l’histoire des idées politiques pour supporter leurs propres recherches. Il ne va cependant pas de soi que l’histoire ait quoi que ce soit à offrir à la philosophie politique contemporaine. Pourquoi, en effet, devrait-on penser que l’histoire des idées politique peut être utile pour développer des outils normatifs pertinents pour le monde contemporain? Dans ce chapitre, je suggère que le travail historique est un outil précieux pour penser ou repenser les questions et problèmes traités par la philosophie politique contemporaine. Si c’est le cas, c’est, d’abord, parce que la philosophie politique est un entreprise critique et, ensuite, parce que l’histoire des idées politiques est une méthode critique dont la philosophie contemporaine peut et devrait se nourrir. Je soutiens de plus que si l’histoire des idées peut jouer ce rôle, c’est parce qu’elle est une forme de pratique de la méthode wittgensteinienne de l’enquête comparative et de la représentation synoptique.
Short encyclopedia-like piece on Léon Bourgeois' Solidarité written for CÉGEP (college) philosophy students.
Work In Progress
“Interference, Domination and Non-Autonomy: The Wrongs of Frustrated Agency”
While philosophers (and other people in the political sphere) disagree about what should be or how we should understand the central guiding value of our political institutions, a concern for agency and its free exercise is what can actually explain the appeal and force of the proposed values. In other words, I contend that the seemingly fundamental and intractable conflict between such political values as freedom as non-interference, freedom as non-domination and autonomy is not, after all, so intractable. If those goods differ, it is because they identify different mechanisms through which agency can be wrongfully curtailed and different ways through which these mechanisms can be counteracted. But their objective seems to be the same: bolster and promote free agency. The promotion of these different values, though, may entail trade-offs. Indeed, it could be the case that reducing domination requires that one interferes. This does not mean, however, that non-interference and non-domination are to be opposed to one another. It just means that we should find a way to balance those goods so that people’s agency is as free as possible. Or, at least, this what just institutions should aim at.
“Can Groups be Owed Anything?”
The central argument of this paper proceeds in three steps. First, I argue that certain groups can qualify as agents because they meet the criteria set by the standard conception of agency. Then, I contend that because certain groups are agents, they can endure constraints to their agency, such as interference and domination. Finally, I conclude that if one of one’s goal is to enable people’s agency, which is something that seems quite valuable, then it seems that we do, at least in a pro tanto manner, owe something to groups: we owe them to protect their agency by reducing the extent to which interfered with or dominated. What that implies more precisely will depend on the context. It could be the case, for instance, that protecting certain groups' agency would require the recognition of collective rights, just like the protection of individuals' agency seem to require individual rights.
“Methodology, Not Ontology: A Qualified Defense of Methodological Holism”
In this paper, I do two things. First, I argue that most justifications of both methodological individualism and methodological holism do not actually rely on arguments about method or explanation. On the contrary, the most prominent advocates of both the individualist and the holist perspectives often derive their methodological conclusions from ontological assumptions. But this seems to confound two distinct issues. The disagreement between methodological individualism and methodological holism is (supposed to be) about what constitutes a good or genuine explanation of social phenomena, not about the nature of reality. So, proponents of both approaches should be able to justify their methodological perspective by arguments about explanation, and not ontology, if they want to substantiate their claims about the superiority of their method. Second, I argue that methodological individualism can only fail in this respect and that holism fares better only if we consider that it actually entails some sort of explanatory pluralism.
“Can Groups Be Self-Deceived?” (with Martina Orlandi)
The idea that a group can be self-deceived is intuitive. Philosophers have distinguished between summative self-deception across a collective, and non-summative self-deception of a collective entity – such as a corporation or political party. Perhaps precisely because of the intuitive aspect of group self-deception, no extant theory has provided a sharp diagnosis of what it involves. Rather, theories have explored its consequences, taking for granted the genuineness of the phenomenon, thus without approaching the crucial question of “can groups actually be self-deceived?”. In this paper, we provide a more systematic account that explains both what group self-deception is, and how it occurs. We do so by setting up the desiderata that a good account of group self-deception should meet: an epistemic desideratum, i.e. how groups can hold beliefs, and a phenomenological desideratum, i.e. the experiential tension characteristically associated with self-deception. We argue that a functionalist account of collective mental states can satisfy the epistemic desideratum, but faces a challenge with respect to the phenomenological desideratum. It seems that the experiential tension characteristic of individual self-deception cannot be adequately mapped onto the group case because of the inherently subjective nature of phenomenological experiences. Yet, we suggest a way in which the tension could manifest in a functionally identical way through qualms and suspicions within the group.