My research is on using philosophy of history to contribute to progressive political theory. Our views of the past and of our nature often combine to influence how we live together. Politics is not just about present problems, but what the future might hold. Paradoxically, we often frame this by looking to the past in various ways – some more legitimate than others. Accordingly, I specialize in several philosophical sub-fields that engage these arguments: philosophy of history, phenomenology and its heirs, and the Hegelian tradition of critical theory.
I currently have two separate projects under this heading: a monograph on normative principles and historicity, and a critical theory of education.
1. Normativity and historicity
Phenomenology has been exploring historicity since Heidegger and Husserl in the 1920’s and 30’s. The great French philosophers of the 50’s and 60’s also took up this task. The problem was of articulating a fully historical subject, originarily social, and responsive to its world. How does this deep level of existence relate to the fundamental normative principles that help shape our living together? My work here takes up the problem of articulating the phenomenological study of historicity with the normative insights of contemporary critical theory.
- Derrida and Althusser on Historicity
- Alternatives to Heidegger’s account of historicity
- Merleau-Ponty and Derrida on institution, tradition, expression
- Axel Honneth’s historical methods
2. The politics of education
Education is a concrete case of our historical and normative being. Schools are central to political reproduction, though today they are little examined in contemporary political philosophy. Schools are simultaneously about who we have been as a society, and what we might be in the future. In a number of peer reviewed articles, I am retrieving the insights of classical political theory concerning education (Aristotle and Plato, Hegel, Marx, Dewey). I also aim to construct a dialogue with Honneth and Rancière on the nature of schools. One particular norm emerges as essential: equality across the educational sphere. This is a pressing contemporary policy issue in light of current segregation and gender inequalities. I offer a critique of contemporary liberal political theories, and support for a strong public education system as a central democratic institution.
- A reassessment of liberal theory of public education (Mill, Hayek, Rawls, Nussbaum)
- Interpretation of current trends in OECD and UNESCO international benchmarking
- Conceptual analysis of existing federal legislation for education
- Developing a conceptual account of intelligence, engagement, and social-co-operation in learning
- Incorporating recognition theory into a description of public education