FullSizeRender 2My name is Ben Nelson (publishing name BLS Nelson), and I work in the philosophy of law. My research work is on unwritten law: what it is, how it works, and why it matters. I have additional specializations in the philosophy of the social sciences and social and political philosophy. I am a newly minted PhD (convocated in June 2017). If you are so inclined, you can check out my C.V. here.

As an instructor, I focus on nurturing intellectual autonomy. I hope to empower students with the tools involved in critical scrutiny in order to be the authors of their own destinies.

I am also a sketch artist in my spare time. You can see some of my commissions by clicking here.

Research topics and current projects

My academic work is in an area of philosophy overlapping the philosophy of the social sciences, philosophy of law. I am interested in the concept of tacit normativity (or “unwritten rules”, broadly understood). The aim is to produce work that is useful in social and political theory, without being motivated only by narrowly critical interests.

I am currently working on two major projects:

  1. Philosophy of law / jurisprudence and the social sciences (“unwritten law”)
    • The role of governing legal/moral/political pictures in helping people determine appropriate deference rules
    • The differential risks of error associated with kinds of rules and kinds of subjects in the context of public evaluation
    • Pragmatics of language: the constitutive features of discourses
    • Secret law, privacy, and the national security state
    • Implicit constitutions and judicial review
  2. The social cognition and epistemology of implicit rules
    • Exemplar: presuppositional imperatives
    • The interpretive conception of rule-following, and how it relates to inference as such
    • The contents of intrinsically opaque mental states (e.g., rational intuitions)
    • The interplay between rules of assertion and judgment

Those, anyway, are the projects that are at the forefront of my mind. Though the efforts are in distinct domains of inquiry, I pursue each in order to provide probative support for the other. A bit more information and context can be found on my research page.