My primary research is in social and political philosophy, philosophy of law, and critical philosophy of race, especially issues related to wrongful benefiting, political responsibility for group-based injustice (structural and particular), the moral and political psychology of privilege, and how best to capture and render salient the normative significance of the past. My approach to these topics combines theoretical and practical dimensions and is thoroughly inter-disciplinary, frequently drawing on work in the social and behavioral sciences. I'm also interested in feminist philosophy, metaethics, the philosophy of science, and in pragmatism and the American philosophical tradition more broadly. 

Around 2016, in the early stages of my PhD, I became interested in whiteness as a key impediment to the achievement of reparative racial justice, and wrote a few short papers on the normative connection between unfair racial benefiting and reparative obligation. One of these essays, entitled "Fair Play, White Privilege, and Black Reparations" received the American Philosophical Association’s 2017 Jean Hampton Prize, awarded every two years to an early career scholar at the Pacific Division meeting. This recognition encouraged me to pursue the issue in my dissertation. While my views have developed quite a bit in the intervening years, the basic spirit of that early argument still animates much of my work

For more detailed information about my current research, including my forthcoming book entitled Whiteness, Fair Play, and Reparation: Toward a Political Inroad (under contract with Palgrave Macmillan), please see the abstracts in the column to the right.

Book Review

"Review of Reconsidering Reparations by Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò" Philosophy Today (Forthcoming, 2025)

Public Philosophy

Reparations for Historic Injustice.” 

1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. May 2019.

Why do reparations arguments fail?” 

Blog of the American Philosophical Association. May 2022.

The Philosophy and Politics of Race and Reparations.

Interview on Dialexicon Podcast. (55 mins). July 2022. 

"Philosophy, let it be repeated, cannot "solve" the problem of the relation of the ideal and the real. That is the standing problem of life." 

John Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy

Peer Reviewed Journal Article

"Fair Play Externalism and the Obligation to Relinquish" Journal of the American Philosophical Association. 2024 (Open Access) 

ABSTRACT: This essay defends a new account of wrongful benefiting based on the principle of fair play. In particular, I argue that certain structurally-conferred group-based benefits or privileges can ground obligations on the part of innocent beneficiaries to relinquish specific gains for purposes of redistribution regardless of whether their receipt is sourced in wrongdoing or involves the imposition of harm upon relevant others. I call this approach to fair play reasoning externalist insofar as it turns on a novel conception of free-riding that eschews necessary appeal to beneficiaries’ mental states or volition. After presenting an empirical example to help illustrate the sort of benefiting at issue and distinguishing my account from arguments rooted in the notion of structural injustice, I defend it via what I call the extension argument, respond to two salient objections, and close by suggesting its potential political utility in the American context specifically. 

Chapter in Edited Volume

“Putting Whiteness First? Why Reparations Discourse Needs a Critique of White Advantage” in Into the Fire: The Intersection of Race and Communication, L. Harper (Ed.), Vernon Press (Forthcoming, 2024)

ABSTRACT: Apart from being one of the most controversial ideas in the contemporary American context, Black reparations, as a political proposal, faces a number of unique socio-argumentative challenges. In many discursive contexts, simply uttering the phrase is enough to send reasonable conversations flying off the rails. This is particularly true for American whites, whose enduring opposition to reparations and other forms of race-conscious policy is well-known, and whose difficulty talking openly about race and racial injustice is well-documented in the social sciences and beyond. What do these facts mean for how reparations advocates should approach reparations discourse? Should direct reparative justice arguments be withdrawn, or reformulated somehow? This essay considers prominent examples of each approach and argues that both fail to properly consider the potential political value of more active engagement with the white moral imagination on the issue of reparations. Against this backdrop, I suggest a tactical re-orientation of at least some reparations discourse around the notion of structural white advantage. Drawing on recent empirical work on how whites manage a privileged social identity, I show how we might strive to incrementally sensitize oppositional whites to the reality of structural white advantage in a way that enables them to retain a grip on their personal and collective esteem by taking up the task of dismantling the various systems that afford those advantages. The idea is to chart a realistic psychological route by which advantaged whites can come to see themselves as non-voluntary beneficiaries of long-standing racialized structures in ways that help minimize the risk of inflaming familiar kinds of defensiveness and reactivity while simultaneously laying the groundwork for more stable and effective public engagement with the issue of reparative justice in the longer term.

Book Manuscript

Whiteness, Fair Play, and Reparation: Toward A Political Inroad 

Under Contract with Palgrave MacMillan (2025)

ABSTRACT: This book addresses what I call the political problem of Black reparations in the United States. Unlike the moral problem, which concerns whether or not reparations is justified, the political problem begins from a commitment to the moral necessity of reparations, and goes on to ask: given that some form of racial reparations is warranted, what kinds of steps might be required to help move the country toward taking up that project? Granting that there are many kinds of challenges to the movement for reparations (economic, legal, organizational, etc.), this book takes up a distinctive socio-argumentative approach which focuses on some of the most conspicuous forms of social, psychological, and ideological resistance to the very idea of reparations exhibited by white Americans specifically. I argue that, for many white Americans, advancing the political conversation around reparations requires a new kind of discursive tactic, namely: the introduction of auxiliary forms of reasoning designed specifically to facilitate recognition of more traditional reparations arguments (i.e., those demanding moral and material redress in relation to discrete historic racial wrongs). Accordingly, the two tasks of this book are: 1) to motivate this new discursive tactic; and 2) to develop one such auxiliary argument in the form of a novel deployment of the principle of fair play.

My approach to fair play reasoning involves a host of theoretical innovations developed in response to this particular socio-argumentative predicament, most centrally: a novel conception of free-riding which is able to ground a class of blameless corrective obligations on the part of whites to respond to certain kinds of socio-structural advantages. Another key plank of my proposal is the empirical claim that the lens of fair play is well-suited to helping mitigate the various socio-argumentative challenges mentioned above. I defend this claim by drawing upon various strands of the empirical literature on white racial identity in connection with attitudes toward race-sensitive social policy, and related sociological analyses of the white moral imagination. The result is a new kind of fairness-based argument for reparations which aims to provide socially and morally threatened whites with a clear and psychologically viable route toward appreciating their own personal enmeshment within structures of racial hierarchy, and helps sensitize them to the force of more familiar reparations arguments (e.g., grounded in American national culpability) in the longer term. 

Articles in Preparation

“White Privilege and Extrinsic Reparation”

“Fair Play and Systemic Wrongs in Iris Young”

"On the Tactical Deployment of Idealized Cases"

"On Appeals to Sportsmanship in Racial Justice Argument"