Research and Publications

After falling out of general favor for several centuries, ethical Aristotelianism is back. Some of its most prominent defenders today think that Aristotle’s basic ethical project reached its apex not in Aristotle’s hands or their own, but in the hands of some of Aristotle’s most illustrious historical followers, including his medieval followers. Terence Irwin, for example, thinks that “Aquinas offers the best statement of the Aristotelian approach to moral philosophy” (The Development of Ethics: Vol. 1, OUP, 2007, 4).

My work focuses on these illustrious medieval developers of ethical Aristotelianism. Through my research, I hope both to deepen our understanding of this tradition's impressive history and to draw lessons from that history regarding how best to think about and defend ethical Aristotelianism today.


Central Projects

Aquinas and the Ethics of Happiness.

With two years of generous support from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, I have been writing a monograph that attempts to show how Aquinas, modifying and developing Aristotle's ethics, joins happiness, moral rules, virtue, grace, and meaning into an interconnected whole. Happiness, understood fundamentally as a matter of engaging in and enjoying genuinely good activities, is the key to achieving this unity. Whether or not such a holistic view of ethics can ultimately be sustained, the result is a vision of what it is to live a good, meaningful, and happy human life, which brilliantly weaves together well-being, connection to others, and a morality of rules integrated with virtues. The book is under contract at Cambridge University Press.

John Buridan: Questions on the Ten Books of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics - Volume 1. A translation.

Under contract with Cambridge University Press, this translation of John Buridan's magisterial work in ethics will make accessible one of the most important and influential reflections on ethical Aristotelianism in philosophy's history. In the three books that comprise Volume 1, Buridan, one of the truly great thinkers of the Middle Ages, treats everything from happiness to virtue to interactions between the will and intellect. He does so from his characteristic nominalist perspective, indebted not only to Aristotle, but also to the Stoics upon whom Buridan freely draws. The result is a unique, magisterial development of a broadly Aristotelian ethic.

Publications

Aquinas and the Ethics of Happiness. Under contract with Cambridge University Press. (Chs. 2 and 5, Finalists for SMRP Founders' Awards.)

Buridan: Questions on the Ten Books of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics - Volume 1. A translation. Under contract with Cambridge University Press.

"Buridan on Happiness and the Good Life." In Interpreting Buridan: Critical Essays, Henrik Lagerlund and Spencer Johnston (eds.). Under contract with Cambridge University Press.

"The All-Happy God." Faith and Philosophy. Volume 36, Issue 4 (October 2019), pp. 423-441.

"Locke on individuation and kinds." Locke Studies 17 (February 2018), pp. 87-116.

"The Experience Machine Objection to Desire Satisfactionism." Co-authored with Dan Lowe. Journal of the American Philosophical Association. Volume 3, Issue 2 (Summer, 2017), pp. 247-263.

"Entirely necessary, but not a part: Aquinas on virtue and perfect happiness." Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales. Volume 84, Issue 1 (2017), pp. 75-105.

"Aquinas on the relationship between the vision and delight in perfect happiness." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 90, Issue 4 (Fall, 2016). (NB: Winner of the ACPQ Rising Scholar Award.)

Considerandum quid sit beatitudo: Aquinas on what happiness really is.” Res Philosophica. Vol. 93, Issue 1 (January 2016), pp. 161-184.

Divine properties, parts, and parity.” International Journal of Philosophy and Theology. Vol. 75, No. 5 (2014), pp. 388-405.

Book review in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Thomas Aquinas's Summa Contra Gentiles: A guide and commentary by Brian Davies. 2017.

Book review in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews with Robert Pasnau. Grand theories and everyday beliefs by Wallace Matson. 2012.