I have just finished a British Academy junior research fellow in Philosophy at the University of Oxford, and a non-stipendiary junior research fellow at Corpus Christi College (2015-18). My DPhil was competed in Oxford in 2015. Before that, I studied both my BA and MPhil in philosophy at King’s College London.
My Philosophical Preoccupations
Organisation in mind and life; mental conflict; the philosophy of psychoanalysis; social roles; agency and practical rationality; emotions; the philosophy of sex and love, authenticity, irony, and sincerity; ideals; the philosophy of sociology; normative ethics and political philosophy; the Madhyamaka.
My current research extends both my MPhil and DPhil projects by focusing on how people manage so-called ‘negative’ emotions and emotional experiences, like jealousy or ambivalence. I contest the underlying idea that complex, unclear, and compartmentalised configurations of mental or practical life must be ‘integrated’ in all cases. I am pursuing these ideas in a series of article drafts, on (1) practices of blame, and ceasing to blame, to understand how and why people attempt to dispel intolerable feelings; (2) non-monogamous lifestyles to examine the ways emotions like jealousy might be transformed, with implications for our understanding of intimacy; (3) occupancy of multiple roles, as a case-study for the management of conflicting demands; and, (4) general strategies for managing practical and emotional conflicts.
DPhil Thesis: Integration, Ambivalence, and Mental Conflict
In my DPhil thesis I contested various versions of an ideal of an integrated mind free of conflicts and ambivalence. Disintegration is taken to impair agency and threaten well-being, but I argue that these connections are not direct. Moreover, the pursuit of unity can itself generate ethically problematic forms of insensitivity. My argument moves on from the negative critique of contemporary advocates of integration as an ideal to the positive attempt to re-think what a valuable form of integration could involve. My own account of integration is inspired by psychoanalysis, and casts this valued aspect of mental life as a capacity rather than an end state. I question whether this capacity is a virtue, but conclude it plays an auxiliary role underpinning the practice of virtue, but perhaps also certain kinds of viciousness.
MPhil Thesis: Role Relatedness: Thought, Feeling, and Ethical Demands
In my MPhil thesis I examine how we relate subjectively to social roles. I contest the view that active endorsement of a role is always significant by exposing the role-norms which structure how we are expected to think and feel about a role. I develop an ethical account of how role-occupancy shapes human subjectivity, and draw upon sociological research into roles. My ethical view, resting on a richer grasp of the ways role-occupancy shapes subjective life, and vice versa, allows me to explain ethically distorted relations to roles, and offer an ideal of good relations to the parts of the roles we have.
Work in Progress
My current article drafts focus on 'letting go' of blame; compersion; emotion and narrative (focusing on grief); emotions and the organisation of mind; value pluralism and the idea of a planned life; forgiveness under oppression; and social roles and subjectivity.
I am also contributing to an ongoing AHRC funded project entitled Roles Ethics which focuses on the relationships between social roles and ethical theory.
I have written on issues in higher education for the Independent and the Times Higher Education, and have reviewed books for a variety of publications including the Times Literary Supplement.