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Social and Political Philosophy


Dan Frank   

"I have teaching interests in the history of political thought from Plato to the present. Outside of the usual syllabus of authors, I have published on the Platonic political philosophical background to medieval conceptions of prophecy and on Spinoza’s political philosophy."

Javier Gomez-Lavin   

"My work tackles the (in)adequacy of concepts in cognitive science, with an emphasis on those at the core of “central” cognition: reasoning, reflection, and imagination. I’ve argued that the psychological realizers of these processes—with an emphasis on working memory—can’t explain many of their desired features, and that less individualistically-oriented concepts will be required to make progress in cognitive science. Namely, new concepts rooted in our social, moral, and aesthetic worlds. This, in turn, requires that we better understand how we perceive and make sense of the social and normative bonds that innervate our lives. It’s that problem that motivates my longstanding collaborative and interdisciplinary research, the continuation of which lies at the heart of the Purdue Normativity and Cognitions (PuNCs) lab. 

This lab continues a strain of work that I've developed in experimental philosophy (which many practitioners affectionately shorten to "x-phi"), that uses the tools of empirical social psychology to test philosophically rich theories about the role that moral values play in personal identity (Gomez-Lavin & Prinz 2019), our experiences of art and its role in informing identity (Fingerhut, Gomez-Lavin, Winklemayer & Prinz 2021), our perceptions of togetherness (Gomez-Lavin & Rachar 2019, 2022, 2023), and our judgements about the role of social norms—like those tied to gender—in developing future AI systems (Read, Gomez-Lavin, Beltrama & Miracchi 2022).  Presently in the PuNCs Lab we're empirically cataloguing the norms that arise from different cases of working together with others and how this “normative fingerprint” might help us map various social relationships, with a specific focus on the norms that inform relationships of Solidarity. With the with the Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence (VRAI) lab, we are beginning work to uncover how these bonds might deform or extend as we enter into unprecedented collaborative and competitive relationships with artificial intelligence in both augmented and virtual reality. All in all, to make progress in cognitive science my bet is that we’ll need to move beyond our inherited cache of individualistically oriented concepts and make room for those that privilege our nature as socially embedded creatures." 

Leonard Harris   

Dan Kelly

"My work in social and political philosophy seeks to continue finding ways to integrate individual oriented approaches to social change with structuralist approaches. Recently I have been especially concerned to develop our understanding of social norms and norm psychology in ways that guide efforts at social improvement."

JP Messina 

"My work in social and political philosophy focuses on free speech and censorship, theories of authority and legitimacy, and questions about the grounds of distributive and retributive justice. On the first front, my book, Private Censorship (to be published this fall with Oxford University Press) addresses recent concerns about censorship by non-state actors and considers a number of regulatory proposals to address them. On the second, I continue to wrestle with Kant’s freedom-based theory of legitimacy and authority, with a special interest in thinking about whether and how it differs from contemporary freedom-based theories and whether it can deliver on its promise to justify institutions like private property. Regarding distributive justice, I am particularly interested in the relationship (if there is one) between free and responsible human agency and our public accountability practices. How do institutions respond appropriately to us as agents, under various descriptions?" 

Lynn Parrish   

Christopher Yeomans

"With co-author Justin Litaker, I am currently at work on a monograph tentatively entitled A Critical Theory of Economic Agency, which attempts to provide a normative theory of banks, markets and firms to replace our outmoded normative concepts for economic activity. Only by abandoning the concepts of property and contract that were formed in the early modern period in response to feudalism can we come to an accurate theory of our current economic agency and thus determine what is valuable about it and ought to be protected in it."