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Research Interests

The one philosophical question that drives me is "How should we try to bring about the best possible future?". Connected with this general question are several more specific research questions from both practical and theoretical philosophy.

Practical Philosophy

  1. "What kind of target state should our actions be directed at?"

    More specifically:

    How far-future can/should the target state be?
    How different from the current situation can/should the target state be?
    How comprehensive should the target state be?
    How attainable should the target state be?

    Associated research topics: ideal vs. non-ideal theory, long-termism, utopianism, ...?...

  2. "How should we try to achieve the target state?"

    More specifically:

    Should we go for many small steps or few big steps?
    How risk-averse should the steps be?
    In how far does the end justify the means?

    Associated research topics: rational choice theory/game theory, collective action and responsibility, precautionary principle, philosophy of public policy, ...?...

Theoretical Philosophy

The general question "How should we try to bring about the best possible future?" is at its core a question of practical philosophy.  I believe, however, that it should be answered in a way that could actually lead to collective action. And this, I suspect, requires that it is answered in the course of some form of public debate. (This public debate should preferably be 'informed' by the philosophical considerations concerning the above practical questions.)

How can we achieve a 'good' consensus in such a debate? This is a general epistemological question and can be split up into the following more specific ones.

  1. "What are (necessary and/or sufficient) conditions for consensus in a debate?"

    More specifically:

    Under which conditions does rationality force us to agree?
    What structural conditions foster or hinder rational consensus formation?
    How should participants react to disagreement?

    Associated research topics: uniqueness thesis, communicative rationality, peer disagreement, public reason, ...?...

  2. "What makes (the results of) a debate epistemically valuable?"

    More specifically:

    Is consensus formation an indicator of (more) proximity to truth?
    Is consensus formation epistemically valuable in itself?
    Can disagreement enhance (the epistemic standing of ) our beliefs?
    Are debates in general truth-conducive?

    Associated research topics: epistemic normativity / epistemic values, accuracy, ...?...

Obviously, the list of questions on this page is tentative. As research proceeds, some questions will be changed or dropped, and new ones will be included. If you have any thoughts on this (speculative or not), please drop me a quick informal email!