"The Heart of a Machine: Technological Threats to Liberty"
This project explores the paradoxical relationship between individual liberty and new automated technologies. My research seeks to answer the question: in what ways is automated technology itself a potential threat to liberty? I turn to the thought of Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, and John Stuart Mill as thinkers within the liberal tradition that collectively suggest that when technology harms the faculties by which people make reasoned judgments and consequent choices, it becomes a threat to liberty as concerning as any other form of tyranny or despotism.
Like much of my research, this project attempts to bring ancient political theory to bear on a contemporary problem: the problem of suicide. Plato’s treatment of suicide as a political issue provides potential grounds for understanding and addressing the rise in suicides today. Plato’s arguments against suicide in his Phaedo, as well as the legislative prohibition of and punishment for suicide in his Laws, provide insight into resources to address suicide outside of the current medical and scientific framework. This project is co-authored with Richard Avramenko.
"The Folk Society and the Good Life: Robert Redfield’s Humane Anthropology"
This project began after my deep dive into Kurt Vonnegut’s politics revealed a profound influence from University of Chicago Committee on Social Thought cofounder Robert Redfield. Redfield was a practicing and traveling anthropologist who, late in his career, argued for a unity between the social sciences and the humanities and an approach to life that focused on the beauties of human community and artistic and scientific achievement, with a moderated skepticism towards the failings of scientific and technological modernity. This project could stand alone as a narrow intellectual biography or form a critical component on a larger book-length project on the political and technological thought of Kurt Vonnegut.