After much work on equality and the ethics of welfare rights, I'm focusing on the following research projects. They both focus on Liberalim's potential to provide satisfactory responses to questions of today. For example, Can liberalism adequately address issues of gender inequality in societies that have made valuable inroads into women's rights? Can Liberalism provide an adequate account of civic virtue that strenghthens democracy by solidifying a duty to vote?
On the Tension Between Voluntary Gendered Preferences and Sex Equality: What Can Liberalism Say?
Many egalitarian and feminist thinkers are puzzled by the fact that much of the gender division of labor in democratic societies is the product of volunatry choices by women that perpetuate patterns of unequal distributions of wealth and power between the sexes. Liberalism, they argue, is incapable to dealing with this conundrum. This is so because liberalism's presumption of neutrality entails that the state shall not encourage nor inhibit any worldviews, provided individuals don't harm the rights of others. My work develops a reasoned argument against the perceived standoff between feminism’s commitment to correcting gender inequality, on the one hand, and liberalism’s commitment to respecting free choice, on the other. I suggest that liberalism is well-equipped to consider (some types) of choices by women as morally problematic (this is different from the question of whether liberal-oriented institutions are legitimized in over-riding gendered preferences and choices).
This project naturally explores the myriad of policy and institutional initiatives argued to alleviate the problem of gendered preferences that perpetuate inequalities. Policies that fairly accomodate work and family together with policies aimed at ensuring equality at the workplace and in politics are key. Thus, my interest in the ethical foundations of the welfare state naturally converges with my interest in issues of gender.
My interest in gendered preferences is also reflected in my work on women and political violence (see publications).
The Ethics of Voting: A Non-Republican Case for the Duty to Vote
Discussions on the ethics of voting generally divide the normative landscape into two distinct conceptions of citizenship: The Republican/Participative model presupposes an ideal of civic virtue that requires active political engagement-- of which voting is key. The Liberal model of citizenship presupposes a less demanding ideal of civic virtue, which leaves the individual free to decide whether to contribute to the common good politically or simply by respecting the law and being a productive member of society.
In this project, I provide a justification of the moral duty to vote without basing my arguments on classic, republican conceptions of democracy. I argue that voting is an ethical obligation from a liberal (minimalist) conception of citizenship. However, I deviate from the accepted liberal view on voting. Prevalent liberal approaches often reject the moral obligatoriness of voting, they only see voting as a right and a freedom. The duty to vote, I claim, follows from a “Trustee-conception” of democracy whereby citizens are not required to perpetually contribute politically to the common good, except in particular limited moments. A detailed explanation of what type of elections are involved in the duty to vote is ipso facto examined. A corresponding conception of civic virtue is also explored. The trustee-justification of a duty to vote sustains that failing to cast an informed and rational ballot entails neglecting to benefit society by renewing (or withholding) trust in those coalitions most adept (or inept) at working for the common good
My interest in democratic theory is reflected in my published work on deliberative democracy and comminicative rights, as well as in my courses on democratic and political theory. (See publications and courses)