PROGRAM IN PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, AND ECONOMICS
I am the Founding Director of the Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) at Virginia Tech. The program integrates research, teaching, and outreach to develop comprehensive solutions to complex interdisciplinary decision-making problems, solutions that are not only economically sound, but also socially, ethically, and politically informed. The program offers an innovative research and learning environment that allows faculty and students to work collaboratively on problems of tomorrow’s world. In addition to its interdisciplinary, research-driven undergraduate degree programs in PPE that train students to become leaders in the 21st century, the program organizes many events and activities that foster dialogue among faculty, students, and the public. Past and present guest speakers include Kyoto Prize Winner Martha C. Nussbaum, Nobel Prize Winner Amartya Sen, New York Times bestselling author Dan Ariely, and Nobel Prize Winner Esther Duflo.
I received my Ph.D. in Philosophy from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I am a moral and political philosopher with broad philosophical interests. My undergraduate studies in Germany focused on continental philosophy. At the LSE, my focus shifted to analytic philosophy, in particular the philosophy of the social sciences. My current research interests lie in central areas of moral and political philosophy, with a focus on the social contract tradition and some of its key figures, such as Hobbes, Hume, Kant, and Rawls. I have research and teaching expertise in the history of moral and political philosophy (especially the Enlightenment period), rational choice theory, public reason theory, distributive justice, the welfare state, political economy, and interdisciplinary topics in philosophy, politics, and economics. Some of my recent work focuses on questions of moral agency in diverse societies that face conflicting first-order moral directives. I suggest multilevel social contract theory as a moral and political theory that can address the complexities of such a fragmented social world while maximally respecting the autonomy of agents. I am author of Minimal Morality: A Multilevel Social Contract Theory (Oxford University Press) and Contractarianism (Cambridge University Press).
VISITING POSITIONS, FELLOWSHIPS, AWARDS, AND GRANTS
During my academic career, I held Visiting Professorships in philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and its joint Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics with Duke University, as well as the University of Graz. In addition, I was a Faculty Fellow at the Parr Center for Ethics at UNC-Chapel Hill, a Research Fellow at the Center for Ethics and Public Affairs at the Murphy Institute at Tulane University, and I served as John Stuart Mill Visiting Chair of Social Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hamburg. I received internal grants from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Provost’s Office, and (together with three colleagues) from the Policy Strategic Growth Area at Virginia Tech. I was awarded scholarships and received research support through the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
ADMINISTRATIVE ROLES AND SERVICE
I am currently serving or have served in the following administrative capacities at Virginia Tech (selected): Design Team Member of the Policy Strategic Growth Area (University); Faculty Senate (University); Executive Council of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (College); Chair of the Administrative Review Committee of the Director of the ASPECT Program (College); Chair of the Administrative Review Committee of the HOD of Philosophy (College); Promotion and Tenure Committee (College); Promotion and Tenure Committee (Philosophy, Political Science); Personnel Committee (Philosophy); Assessment and Evaluation (Philosophy); Graduate Admissions Committee (Philosophy); Graduate Admissions Committee (ASPECT); Curriculum Committee (Philosophy); Curriculum Committee (ASPECT); Teaching and Honorifics Committee (Philosophy); Publications and Events Committee (ASPECT); Program Outreach and Development Committee (ASPECT); Outstanding Dissertation Award Committee (ASPECT); and Chair or Committee Member of almost twenty faculty, staff, and administrative searches in Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, PPE, ASPECT, and the College.
In addition to my academic career, I have worked in Strategic Management Consulting and Political Consulting (for example, for Batten & Company), as a research assistant at the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, as a professional furniture maker (with degree), in a Nature Friends House, and in a One World Shop.