"What is Intimacy?" (forthcoming).  Journal of Philosophy.

Why is it typically more violating to grab someone’s thigh or to stroke their face than it is to grab their finger? Why is it worse to read someone’s dream journal without permission than it is to read their bird watching field notes? Intimacy, I argue, is key to understanding these cases, and to explaining many of our most stringent rights.

I present two ways of thinking about intimacy, Relationship-First Accounts and the Intimate Zones Account. I argue that only the Intimate Zones Account lets us cohesively understand intimacy’s importance, and the scope of our intimate rights. I characterize our intimate zones as meeting the Hiddenness and Importance Conditions, and show how a feature’s meeting these conditions makes it a locus of special vulnerability by which our persons can be fundamentally altered. This special vulnerability explains why we must respect the intimate boundaries of others. 

"Pleasures of the Flesh" (2023). Social Theory and Practice 49(1):79-103.

I give an argument for veganism by drawing parallels between a) bestiality and animal fighting, and b) animal product consumption. Attempts to draw principled distinctions between the practices fail. The wrong-making features of bestiality and animal fighting are also found in animal product consumption. These parallels give us insight into why popular objections to veganism, such as the Inefficacy Argument, are inadequate. Because it is often difficult to enact significant life changes, I hope that seeing the parallels between animal product consumption and acts we are already so strongly motivated to avoid can help us abstain from animal products.

"Intimacy, Illness, and Forced Gestation" (2022). Blog of the APA.

In this piece of public philosophy, I discuss how illness can force us into intimacy. Drawing on both my research and my personal experience, I argue that this forced intimate exposure is an important and overlooked harm of illness. In light of the fall of Roe v. Wade, I then turn towards parallels with forced gestation. I argue that forced gestation forces a pregnant person into at least three different kinds of intimacy. This forced intimacy makes forced gestation a grave wrong.

Works in Progress

Dissertation (On Intimacy: A Philosophical Account)

Ch. 1, "What is Intimacy" above, forthcoming in Journal of Philosophy

Ch. 2, "Intimate Boundaries, Shame, and Self-Shaping"

I argue that exposing our intimate features leaves us vulnerable to being shaped by shame, and to having our 'self turn against our self.' Because our intimate features meet the Hiddenness Condition, we typically have little experience with other people’s reactions to them, so those we do receive are disproportionately impactful. And when a feature is Important, which I define as revealing our conception of our self, criticism of the feature is not just incidental. It is not merely a problem with something we’ve done, or our minor feature, but with us. And a feature's reflection on our person is characteristic of shame. It is not only the nature of intimate features that explains why they make us so vulnerable to being shaped, but also the conditions under which they are exposed. I argue that Chosen Intimacy makes us additionally vulnerable because it typically requires we place trust in the judgement of those we're exposing ourselves to. On the other end of the spectrum, Unchosen Intimacy makes us additionally vulnerable because it takes away our control over our person. Because of this vulnerability, I argue we have additional duties towards those who are intimately exposed to us.

Ch. 3, "Intimate Labor"

In this chapter, I explore how the Intimate Zones Account can help us make sense of intimate labor. 'Intimate labor' has paradigmatically referred to sex and reproductive labor, but the Intimate Zones Account shows us that much other labor is intimate. Because disciplines such as therapy, nursing, teaching, and theatre and other arts often require that at least one party expose their Hidden and Important feature, we can see that they are all intimate as well.  Because of this, I argue we have obligations to treat them more consistently. I suggest a number of policy proposals, such as forbidding contracts from having enforceable clauses requiring intimate exposure. I examine and defend the counterintuitive results of these proposals for disciplines such as nursing and theatre. 

Other Projects

"Intimacy, Pregnancy, and Surrogacy"

I argue that pregnant people can have intimate relationships with the fetuses they carry, but do not always have them. Because we have strong rights against Unchosen Intimacy, forcing someone to continue a pregnancy is such a grave moral violation. It is not only that it is a violation of bodily autonomy, but that it is an intimate violation. Finally, I explore how a child or adult might reasonably view themselves as having had an intimate relationship with the person who carried them, and be made vulnerable by that Unchosen Intimacy. I argue that we have a prima facie duty to be open to an intimate relationship with the person a fetus we have carried has become. 

"Do I Really Have to Say 'Feed Two Birds with One Scone'?" (Under Review)

Many found PETA’s Anti-Animal Language campaign, with its comparison of Anti-Animal Language to racist, homophobic, and ableist language, both hysterical and deeply misguided. I argue that even though some Anti-Animal Language shouldn’t be used because of tangible harms it causes, there is a much stronger case against racist, homophobic, ableist, and sexist language. Prominent accounts of the badness of slurs, which I extend to the wider category of ‘Prejudicial Language’, cannot sufficiently explain this difference. 

To address this gap, I introduce my ‘Valuing Status Account.’ Because it is deeply important to most humans to have our moral status acknowledged, and required for our acting autonomously, using language that disrespects our status is wrong apart from downstream effects. This underlies the difference between dehumanization, and a novel concept I call ‘deanimalization.’ This gives insight into how ideology functions, and the differing constraints on activism done for animals and humans. This account helps fill in prominent accounts of the badness of slurs, and gets down to a more fundamental explanatory level. I also believe it can help us move away from focusing solely on slurs, and onto the broader category of Prejudicial Language, allowing us to recognize more subtly disrespectful language too.

"Having Your Porn and Equality Too" (Under Review)

Many feminists argue that pornography subordinates and silences women. I introduce a novel theoretical framework to show that alternative pornography can address these harms by changing what mainstream pornography communicates. The background presuppositions required to make sense of pornography are context-dependent. By exposing us to a wide variety of sexual acts, dynamics, and bodies, alternative pornography changes our context. When we understand the diversity of sexual desire, we can’t make sense of a scene in which a woman is submissive by presupposing anything about what women, as a class, like. We instead have to use presuppositions about what the depicted individual likes. 

While this is reminiscent of ‘More Speech’ approaches to addressing hate speech, it actually reveals weaknesses of the ‘More Speech’ approach. While ‘More Porn’ alters the content of mainstream pornography, ‘More Speech’ cannot alter the content of hate speech, but can only combat its causal harms.

"Moral Encroachment and Aesthetic Alienation" 

Merely considering potential moral problems with an artwork can encroach on our aesthetic experience of the work in question. Even if we decide a work retains its aesthetic value and is worthy of full aesthetic engagement, we can find ourselves experiencing a phenomenon I call ‘Aesthetic Alienation.’ We become not just alienated from the work, but from our own judgment, unable to be swept up in the aesthetic experience we believe would be fitting. I give accounts of four ways art can be ‘Problematic,’ and yet worthy of aesthetic engagement. Some of these ways, such as those involving inequities in which stories are told, are incredibly widespread. I argue that we are morally obligated to consider the moral failings of art to adequately attend to injustice and create a better world. However, we ought to acknowledge that risking widespread Aesthetic Alienation is a significant sacrifice.

"Why Viability Isn't Viable: Abortion and the Merely Possible"

Many think viability plays an important role in determining when abortion is permissible. The United States Supreme Court, in both Roe v Wade and in Planned Parenthood v Casey, has committed to this by explicitly stating that after the point of viability states may place restrictions on abortion in the interests of protecting fetal life. There are, however, unexplored problems with assigning moral importance to viability. While viability represents the potential for survival outside the womb, I argue that what is of moral importance is actual survival outside the room, actual independence. This better fits with the conclusions of arguments from bodily autonomy for the permissibility of abortion, and so accepting these arguments commits us to doing away with viability standards.

"Insecurity in Advertising"

Feminists have long been aware of advertising’s harmful effects on women. It is easier to sell a product that is seen not as merely optional, but as something one must have if one is to be feminine, to be beautiful, to even be acceptable. However, the reasons for its effectiveness are indicative of a serious moral problem. Not only is insecurity emotionally painful, it also undermines ability to act autonomously, and to claim what one is due. I examine three views about when it is wrong to cause insecurity with advertisements, which I call 'No Unjust Insecurity,' 'No Insecurity,' and 'No Inappropriate Insecurity.' I argue that the first view is too narrow, the second too wide, and that the last is right.