My primary research is in the philosophy of law, and specifically on the informal promulgation of the law, or unwritten law. The thesis combines a close examination of historical texts with a novel analysis of the concept of unwritten law, resulting in a unique contribution to general jurisprudence.
I completed my doctorate from the University of Waterloo under the supervision of Dr. Brian Orend in December of 2016. Committee members: Drs. Heather Douglas, Mathieu Doucet, Dennis Klimchuk, and John McLevey. If you like, you can read the full dissertation here.
As part of my doctorate I earned a diploma in cognitive science, a diploma in teaching university level courses, and a departmental teaching award. I also hold an Honors Bachelor degree in philosophy (with sociology) from Western University and a Masters degree in philosophy from York University (in Toronto).
 “Secret law revisited,” Ratio Juris, forthcoming.
 “Making minds like ours,” The Philosopher’s Magazine, 2014.
 “Analysis of the ACP/CPA 2017 Equity Climate Study.” [on-line resource] Canadian Philosophical Association, Equity Committee — Survey Working Group, 2019.
As far as I understand it, philosophy tackles the most general questions about the nature ourselves and our world, in order to increase our understanding and diminish our confusion about it. Understood in this way, philosophy is the way that civilizations go about knowledge integration and generation. To ‘do philosophy’ is to engage in generalist inquiry of an especially focused kind. To paraphrase a former mentor from Western, the logician John Bell: intellectual depth and breadth are complementary, not opposites.
Once we are set on doing philosophy, we should demand the use of rigorous methodology: be it analytical, experimental, or historical/scholastic. But given the ephemeral nature of our subject matter, no single method is robust enough to eclipse the others. All have something to contribute, depending on the demands of the research question we are pursuing; but research is strengthened when methods are combined. In this respect, I am an advocate of a suitably restrained methodological consilience in professional philosophy.
I am a constrained pluralist, in the sense that I believe there are multiple ways of being a legitimate philosopher. I think there are four major kinds: the ‘introspective/autonomous’ type, the ‘programmatic’ type, the ‘critical/skeptic’ type, and the ‘syncretistic’ type. These distinct philosophical profiles can be mutually antagonistic, and our inquiries would be more productive if the profession displayed a measure of tolerance for diversity in intellectual character (while insisting on the vital importance of methodological restraint).
I believe that these principles — of generalist inquiry, of consilience, and of pluralism — are patently obvious descriptions of philosophy. And yet, I am also convinced that these principles are also entirely impossible to realize within the academy in isolation. This is not a sinister collusion or conspiracy against philosophers, but an understandable result of various pressures, which are themselves entirely reasonable. Philosophy implies a sort of inquiry that is essentially “too big for its britches”, a civilization-wide project in making sense of things, so it would be surprising if it could ever fit within the confines of any four walls.
INTELLECTUAL PROGRAMME (2019)
The investigation into tacit normativity is a large-scale project, running from philosophy of mind, through philosophy of language and social epistemology, finally culminating in the philosophy of law. The basic idea is that we have standards of correctness that govern and measure conduct, and which do so without the need for explicit articulation.
The first branch of this research programme is in unwritten law. The main work can be found in my dissertation thesis, The Depiction of Unwritten Law (2016), linked above. In it, I postulated that unwritten laws are informally promulgated rules held on threat of formal sanction by an appropriate political authority. I also provided a taxonomy of potential unwritten laws: implicit constitutions, moral/political rules of change, operationalizations, and secret laws. I argued that, under certain conditions, the correct informal venues could be identified as a function of what the appropriate picture of law tells us about the epistemic risk in legal contexts and what it means to be in intellectual (or discursive) good faith. The result is a novel, modest, and systematic approach to thinking about an interesting and important subject. Presently, I would like to refine and extend that work into the examination of constitutional morality in light of particular cases.
The second branch concerns unwritten rules as such. A successful account of unwritten rules will have to tackle some extremely difficult questions in philosophy: about inference, its relation to rules, meaning, and metaphysics. Four theses, in particular, have occupied my attention in the course of the study into unwritten rules: skepticism towards the need for ontological commitments in accounts of normativity, enthusiasm towards a diachronic constraint on theories of truth, enthusiasm for cognitive and social presuppositions behind an account of inference, and the role of trust in social scientific explanations. I will continue to explore those areas in future research in order to show how they interface with the theory of unwritten law.