Research

My current research is mainly in history of philosophy, ethics, and bioethics.

On the history side, my current projects are organized under the theme of American Ethics. There are numerous thinkers worthy of serious study in the pragmatist tradition, especially when we focus on contributions to moral philosophy. It is common for introductory courses or volumes on pragmatism to focus exclusively on three thinkers: Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914), William James (1842-1910), and John Dewey (1859-1952). But those who want to engage the possibilities of pragmatist ethics seriously will benefit from going beyond Peirce-James-Dewey treatments of the tradition, and including the thinkers with whom the ‘big three’ stand in constellation. This could include any of the following philosophers – some quite bright stars in the history of pragmatism already, some whose place in the firmament has not been so well appreciated: Josiah Royce (1855-1918), Jane Addams (1860-1935), George Herbert Mead (1863-1931), George Santayana (1863-1952), Ella Lyman Cabot (1866-1934), W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963), Clarence Irving Lewis (1883-1964), and Alain Locke (1885-1954). I give an overview of this terrain in “Pragmatism and the Moral Life”, forthcoming in the Routledge Companion to Pragmatism, edited by Scott Aikin and Robert Talisse.

On the bioethics side, my current projects are organized under the theme Solving for Stigma: Storytelling, Rationality, and Recovery in Mental Health Care. This is a project in the medical humanities, which is a naturally interdisciplinary nexus. My approach is rooted in philosophical research in bioethics, but also draws from current research in psychology and sociology. My usual philosophical lens, pragmatism, portrays the pursuit of knowledge as fundamentally group work. To do better, one has to know better – and knowing better requires knowing together. But working together in the context of mental health care has traditionally been fraught. The history of psychiatry has been morally monstrous. In contemporary life, the stigmatization of people navigating mental illness is rampant in ordinary social contexts as well as in the delivery of health care: “The stigma attached to mental illness and all that is related to it – patients who suffer from mental disorders, their families, psychiatric institutions, psychotropic medications – is the main obstacles to better health care and better quality of life of people who have the illness, of their families, of their communities and of health service staff that deals with psychiatric disorders” (Sartorious & Schulze 2005). Current projects concern the efficacy of typical stigma reduction strategies and the need to co-produce new strategies for the myriad contexts in which mental health care takes place.

In the interest of honouring blind review processes, I do not post details about work that is currently under review.