I am a postdoc in philosophy at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in the research group Global Challenges in Economic and Environmental Ethics at the Integrated Research Institute IRI THESys.  I received my PhD from the London School of Economics under the supervision of Christian List and Richard Bradley for a thesis that investigates how moral responsibility relates to causation.

Most of my work concerns agency:  How does our concept of agency fit not only with our scientific theories but also with our moral practices of responsibility and guilt? How should we make big decisions involving questions of who we should become? Furthermore, are there agents above or beyond human agents, such as computers with so-called strong artificial intelligence, or collective agents like corporations and states? Apart from these topics in the intersection of moral philosophy, philosophy of mind, and metaphysics, I am interested in questions of global justice and the philosophy of economics.




Research

Research Articles

The Paraphrase Argument against Collective Actions

Australasian Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)

Abstract: This paper is about the status of collective actions. According to one view, collective actions metaphysically reduce to individual actions because sentences about collective actions are merely a shorthand for sentences about individual actions. I reconstruct an argument for this view and show via counterexamples that it is not sound. The argument relies on a paraphrase procedure to unpack alleged shorthand sentences about collective actions into sentences about individual actions. I argue that the best paraphrase procedure that has been put forward so far fails to produce adequate results.

Paper: online version.

 

Epistemic landscapes, optimal search and the division of cognitive labor

With Jason Alexander and Chris Thompson. Philosophy of Science 82(3), July 2015.

Abstract: This paper examines two questions about scientists’ search for knowledge. First, which search strategies generate discoveries effectively? Second, is it advantageous to diversify search strategies? We argue pace Weisberg and Muldoon (2009) that, on the first question, a search strategy that deliberately seeks novel research approaches need not be optimal. On the second question, we argue they have not shown epistemic reasons exist for the division of cognitive labor, identifying the errors that led to their conclusions.  Furthermore, we generalize the epistemic landscape model, showing that one should be skeptical about the benefits of social learning in epistemically complex environments.

Paper: penultimate draft, online version.

Additional material: The model used for this article is written using NetLogo. The source code of our model is available here. It involves a swarm strategy, which draws on the model by Couzin et al. (2005) and the Boids model. You can find a simple simulation that I wrote to study the behaviour of this model here.

 

Book Reviews

From Individual to Collective Intentionality: New Essays, edited by Sara Rachel Chant, Frank Hindriks, and Gerhard Preyer. Oxford University Press

Economics and Philosophy 31(3), November 2015.

Abstract: First, I summarize select contributions focussing mostly on social ontology. Second, I point to some flaws in particular arguments, and illustrate the potential of seeking synergies with related debates in the philosophy of mind. Third, I put forward the hypothesis that some disagreements between participants in the debate are merely verbal.

Paper: penultimate draft, online version.

 

Dissertation “Agency as Difference-making”

Abstract: We are responsible for some things but not for others. In this thesis, I investigate what it takes for an entity to be responsible for something. This question has two components: agents and actions. I argue for a permissive view about agents. Entities such as groups or artificially intelligent systems may be agents in the sense required for responsibility. With respect to actions, I argue for a causal view. The relation in virtue of which agents are responsible for actions is a causal one. I claim that responsibility requires causation and I develop a causal account of agency. This account is particularly apt for addressing the relationship between agency and moral responsibility and sheds light on the causal foundations of moral responsibility.




Teaching

  • Hard Choices and Transformative Experience
    Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Summer 2016
  • Equality
    University of Bayreuth, Summer 2015
  • Business Ethics
    London School of Economics, Lent Term 2014
  • Agency, Responsibility and Artificial Intelligence
    University of Bayreuth, Winter 2014
  • Ethics of Exchange, Allocation and Efficiency
    University of Bayreuth, Summer 2013
  • Philosophy of the Social Sciences
    London School of Economics, 2012-13
  • Policy Evaluation and Cost-Benefit-Analysis
    University of Bayreuth, Winter 2012
  • Reason, Knowledge and Values
    London School of Economics, 2011-12

At LSE I taught as a teaching assistant; all other courses were taught as primary instructor.