A. RESEARCH INTERESTS
I am a moral and political philosopher with broad interests. My undergraduate studies in Germany focused on continental philosophy, in particular Kant and German Idealism. I received my Ph.D. in Philosophy from the London School of Economics (LSE). At the LSE, my focus shifted to analytic philosophy, in particular moral and political philosophy and social scientific methods. At the LSE, I also obtained a M.Sc. in Philosophy of the Social Sciences, studied in the B.Sc. in Philosophy and Economics, and enjoyed the university’s renowned public lecture series.
Currently, I am Professor of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Virginia Tech. My 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 philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE).
I have developed a novel multilevel social contract theory that, I argue, is conceptually coherent, empirically sound, and practically relevant for diverse societies. The theory addresses the complexities of fragmented societies while maximally respecting the autonomy of agents. I am the author of Minimal Morality: A Multilevel Social Contract Theory (Oxford University Press) and Contractarianism (Cambridge University Press). With John Thrasher, I am the editor of Strategic Justice, Conventions, and Game Theory (Springer) and New Approaches to Social Contract Theory: Liberty, Equality, Diversity, and the Open Society (Oxford University Press).
B. AFFILIATE FACULTY POSITIONS
Affiliate Faculty Member, +Policy Network, Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment, 2023-present.
Affiliate Faculty Member, ASPECT Ph.D. Program (an interdisciplinary doctoral program in the humanities and social sciences), 2020-present.
Affiliate Professor, Department of Economics, 2017-present.
C. 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 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). As principal investigator and/or faculty lead, I received external funding from various different funding agencies.
D. NON-ACADEMIC CAREER
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 a three-year professional degree), in a Nature Friends House, and in a One World Shop.