I want to understand what it would take to provide a non-arbitrary normative foundation for ordinary moral thought and discourse, a foundation that allows us to avoid slipping into the nihilistic thought that (morally speaking) nothing matters, and the relativistic thought that (morally speaking) anything goes. Most of my research is motivated by a concern to assess whether and how we can avoid these troubling thoughts. I describe some of the projects I am working on below.
My first ongoing project lies in 'feminist metaethics.' A number of philosophers have discussed metaethical issues from a feminist standpoint, but the area remains neglected within mainstream metaethics. The aim of my project is to bring feminist insights (concerning claims about objectivity and rationality, for example) to bear on mainstream debates about moral realism. My aim is to show that, contrary to suggestions made by some feminist philosophers, feminist moral views both support, and are supported by, a metaphysically robust form of moral realism. I am focused on developing and defending a distinctive realist ontology and epistemology, drawing and building on feminist philosophical insights. This project will result in several papers and, I hope, a monograph.
Temperament and Morality
My second ongoing project concerns the role of temperament in moral and epistemic life. I am interested in the extent to which ethical, metaethical, and political conflicts are shaped by differences in temperament, and how we might be able to address such conflicts by getting a better grasp of temperament’s role. I am currently developing an account of temperament informed both by William James’ writings, and by insights from empirical psychology. In work-in-progress I clarify the notion of temperament as a way of evaluating epistemic agents, characterising it as a neglected area of virtue epistemology.