Research

My research challenges the dominant views of security and terrorism by inverting the moral question: how should states respond to terrorism? Rather than address the morality of terrorism, I argue that, because states have a greater capacity for violence than non-state actors, they have a greater responsibility to seek nonviolent resolutions to political problems. Below you will find a list of my publications and presentations. I made the abstracts available for all the publications and some of the presentations, but if you want a full copy please feel free to contact me.

Publications

  1. “Naked Soldiers, Naked Terrorists and the Justifiability of Drone Warfare,” Social Theory and Practice 45 (1): (2019). Abstract: A hallmark of the war on terror is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, to kill terrorists abroad. By terrorists I mean individuals with affiliations in groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS, al-Shabaab, etc. Drones have allowed for the war on terror to be fought without battlefields that imperil a country’s soldiers. In this essay, I argue that the justification for targeted killing is based on the same logic as the justification for killing the Naked Soldier in traditional wars.Since many drone strikes are personal strikes—the targeted killing of known individuals—this seems like a more justifiable attack than one against anonymous soldiers who may well be conscripts. Yet, I propose there are three problems to this analogy that makes killing the Naked Terrorist—one unaware of the danger he is in—worse than killing the Naked Soldier: First, there is the epistemological problem regarding knowing with some certainty that the targets of the drone strikes are indeed terrorists. Second, terrorists do not seem to pose as great a danger as traditional armies undermining the necessity claim.Lastly, drones may not be as precise as the US claims they are.  
  2. “Is It Still Nationalism? A Critique of Ronald Sundstrom’s ‘Sheltering Xenophobia,’” Critical Philosophy of Race (forthcoming). Abstract: The recent nationalist movements in liberal democratic states such as the US, the UK, France and Germany have been related to xenophobia. The rise of Trumpism brands Muslims and Mexicans as outsiders,while there is a rise of anti-refugee sentiments in Europe during the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. The question is how are nationalism and xenophobia related. According to Ronald Sundstrom, nationalism shelters xenophobia by creating obstacles that prevent immigrants and refugees from attaining a sense of civic belonging. He uses the metaphor of sheltering to suggest that xenophobia becomes a byproduct of nationalism in the right conditions. I think this is a misunderstanding of the relationship between nationalism and xenophobia. In this essay, I analyze Sundstrom’s and DavidKim’s definition of xenophobia and Sundstrom’s own argument for how nationalism shelters xenophobia. I then argue that nationalism is inseparable from xenophobia because certain core beliefs already presuppose some form of civic ostracism. These core beliefs are sovereignty and partiality. I think that despite the various noble causes behind nationalism—cultural preservation,survival, and liberation—its roots are grounded in the expulsion of foreign Others and preference for fellow nationals. Any attempts to reform nationalism must reckon with these two core beliefs. An ideology that abandons those beliefs would no longer be nationalism. In other words, there is no nationalism without xenophobia.
  3.  “InDefense of Mercy,” Journal of MilitaryEthics (forthcoming). Abstract: Though it is legally permissible to kill combatants in war,unless they are rendered hors de combat,the existence of Naked Soldiers raises an important moral question: should combatants kill vulnerable enemy combatants or show mercy towards them? Most philosophers who address this question argue that it is morally permissible to kill the Naked Soldier given the extended notion of self-defense during war. They ground their arguments in a form of collectivism. In this essay, I use Larry May’s argument. He offers an approach that extends the principle of discrimination that would also apply to combatants. Instead of assuming all combatants are de facto dangerous,this approach would allow for nuance in targeting the enemy and showing mercy when enemy combatants clearly pose no danger, in other words, when they are Naked Soldiers. I defend this view against two criticisms: Noam Zohar’s view of armies as complex collectives and Stephen Deakin’s view that a policy that spares Naked Soldiers would be open to abuse. I argue that it is not only morally suspect to kill Naked Soldiers, but also it is within the spirit of both international laws governing war and the just war tradition to offer mercy whenever possible.
  4. “Excuses, Justifications, and the Just War Tradition: Are There Good Reasons to Kill the Naked Soldier?” Journal of Global Ethics 13 (1): 58-69 (2017). Abstract: In war there is a phenomenon known as the Naked Soldier problem. A combatant discovers a vulnerable enemy combatant who is unable to defend himself and almost certainly unaware of the combatant’s presence. This enemy combatant is not presently engaged in fighting and not threatening the lives of others. While killing the Naked Soldier is legally permissible, the question I address in this essay is whether or not there can be a moral justification for doing so. I think such a moral justification is lacking, and there are only excuses for killing the Naked Soldier. In this essay, I distinguish between a justification and an excuse and then I examine four traditional reasons given for the acceptability of killing in war to see if any of them are (a) justifications and (b) justifications for killing the NakedSoldier.

Conference Presentations

  1. “The Exceptional Presidency of Donald Trump”  at The American Philosophical Association, Eastern (New York, January 7-10 2019).
  2. “Chiraq and the Conflation of Urban Violence with Resistance to Foreign Occupiers” at Philosophy of the City (La Universidad de Salle, Bogotá,Colombia, October 11-13 2018). Abstract: In this essay I argue that the conflation of urban violence with the violent resistance US forces face to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan serve as a double reveal. On the one hand, they reveal the sorts of prejudices people have regarding black and brown perpetrators of violence. When majority black and brown neighborhoods in Chicago or Ferguson, Missouri are thought to be literal war zones, then the conclusion some draw is that the people who live in these neighborhoods are uncontrollably violent. This feeds into the belief that urban violence is a cultural problem, stemming from weak family structures. This sort of view is supported by prevalent myths of black-on-black violence and the absentee black father. A similar myth explains why so many Muslims engage in terrorism: they are simply unaccustomed to democracy and its values, or that their values are backwards and medieval. On the other hand, this conflation reveals something true about these cities and war zones: that they experience what amounts to occupied forces, the residents are treated as constant threats, and the causes of the violence in these neighborhoods and countries often go ignored as if they were irrelevant. While these conflations are indeed stigmatizing, there is value in understanding the failure of the state when it comes to the violence in these cities and the failure of the international community when it comes to violence in these nation-states.
  3. “Nationalist Myth and Liberal Guise: The Forced Unveiling of Muslim Women” at The 8thInternational Symposium on Justice: Globalization, Multiculturalism, and Human Rights (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil, September 10-14 2018). Abstract: Over the past decade in European countries, and now Quebec there have been laws passed to ban full-face coverings. A similar ban has been debated in Australia. In France, there is the added controversy of the ban on wearing hijabs in public schools which is now over a decade and a half old. What is odd about these laws is that they are enacted in liberal democratic republics, which ought to prioritize individual liberty. Yet these laws are specifically targeted at Muslim women who wear the burqa or the niqab, or in the case of the French law that affects public school students, the hijab. Why would liberal democratic republics seek to limit the religious expression of their citizens? In this presentation I examine three possible justifications for laws that ban the veil: the liberation of women,the importance of the face in democratic life, and preservation of European values. I argue that each of these justifications is flawed and that the first and third hide a more pernicious nationalism steeped in a legacy of colonialism.
  4. “Prerequisites for a Perpetual Peace in the Age of the War on Terror” at Utopia Now: Global Ethics& Politics from a Kantian Point of View (St. John’s University, May 25-28 2018).
  5. “Naked Soldiers, Naked Terrorists, and the Justifiability of Drone Warfare”at The Felician Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs Eleventh Annual (Felician College, October 14 2017).
  6. “Is It Still Nationalism? A Critique of Ronald Sundstrom’s ‘Sheltering Xenophobia’” at The American Philosophical Association, Pacific (Seattle,April 12-15 2017).
  7. “Rhetoric and the War on Terror” at The Long Island Philosophical Society (St.John’s University, April 1 2017).
  8. “Targeted Killings and Terrorists: What’s Wrong with Killing the Naked Soldier” at The Long Island Philosophical Society (St.John’s University, April 18 2015).
  9. “Does the City Make Us Just? Socrates’ Uncomfortable Relationship with the City” at Philosophy of the City (Brooklyn College, December 5-7 2013).
  10. “Different Causal Frameworks for Plato and Aristotle” at The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy (Fordham University, October 12 2013).
  11. “The Moral Implications of Cosmic and Human Bodies in the Timaeus” at The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy (Fordham University, October 15-17 2010).
  12. “From Writing and Speaking to Reading and Listening: Socrates’ Search for Truth and Self-Knowledge in the Phaedrus” at The 3rdAnnual West Coast Plato Workshop (University of California San Diego, May 22-23 2010).
  13. “Where is Justice in the Myth of Er?” at The Society of Ancient Greek Philosophy (Fordham, October 24-26 2008).
  14. “Leibniz’ Monadic Ethics” at Felician College 2nd Annual Ethics Conference (Felician College, May 3 2008).
  15. “The Normative Implications of Circular Motion in Plato’s Timaeus” at The New Jersey City University Symposium on Greek Philosophy (New Jersey City University, April 26 2008).
  16. “The Fall of Athens and the Misconception of the Political in Plato’s Laches” at The StonyBrook Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference (StonyBrook Manhattan, February 17 2007).