My research addresses the ethics of authority. I focus on three kinds of questions that are connected to this topic:
Public Health and Bioethics: I argue that many policies that aim to promote public health violate people's rights and are counterproductive. In my work, I address policies such as pharmaceutical regulations, marketing restrictions for drugs, seatbelt mandates, the prohibition of sex work, and laws that restrict women’s obstetric autonomy. Relatedly, I have also written about disability rights, compulsory vaccination, human enhancement, the Affordable Care Act, and bodily service markets. My recent work on this topic addresses the regulation of pregnancy and birth, and the ethics of treatment for chronic pain.
Social Norms and Egalitarianism: I have an ongoing interest in laws and social norms that aim to promote social equality or economic justice. For example, I wrote a book about sex work that makes a social egalitarian case for permitting all forms of sex work. In another recent book, I write about the ethics of informal sanctions, such as blame and ostracization, through an analysis of linguistic normativity. I am currently interested in theological justifications for social equality. I'm also writing a series of essays about the gendered division of labor and motherhood culture.
Justifications for Enforceable Rights: I argue that very few rights are enforceable. For example, I am skeptical that rights to assistance are enforceable in principle. However, I also argue that people are currently entitled to cash assistance as compensation for the injustices associated with the enforcement of property rights. On my view, a basic income program is consistent with respecting rights of economic freedom. Throughout my career, I published articles defending freedom of contract, the moral permissibility of sweatshops, and self-ownership theory. My interest in the justification for rights motivates my interest in metaphilosophical questions about conceptual engineering, public reason, vagueness, and the appropriate standards for normative arguments that address matters of political justice. My recent work on this topic addresses ethics and public policy questions related to property rights, economic freedom, and freedom of expression.