I am a senior lecturer in philosophy in the School of Philosophical, Anthropological, and Film Studies at the University of St. Andrews. Information about my teaching and other activities can be found on my staff website.
I am generally interested in the philosophy of the human sciences, particularly those that address practical and theoretical reasoning. This interest has led me to the thought of Benedict de Spinoza – an early pioneer of philosophical anthropology and moral psychology, in my view. I also work in the philosophy, often the critique, of economics and political economy. And I have a growing interest in the influence of classical Chinese philosophy on early modern Western thought.
I am completing a book manuscript, which aims to introduce and develop Spinoza’s theory of beatitude. This is the culmination of Spinoza’s theory of desire, since it describes the condition of ultimate satisfaction. Although Spinoza saw beatitude as the ultimate goal towards which his philosophy reached, there are few interpretative works devoted primarily to this theme. Spinoza’s theory of beatitude is, in my view, the keystone that holds together diverse parts of his philosophy – in particular his metaphysics, his social theory, and his philosophical anthropology. These are often studied separately; my introduction to beatitude aims at helping readers understand Spinoza’s philosophy as a unified whole. His theory is also of continuing relevance, since it pursues a spiritual goal as the antidote to various social dysfunctions without belonging entirely to any specific religious tradition. I also agree with Feng Youlan that Spinoza’s theory of beatitude has striking parallels with the Daoist philosophy found in the Zhuangzi and its commentaries.
My first book, Spinoza and Dutch Cartesianism, proposed a new interpretation of Spinoza, situating him in the context of debates within the Dutch Cartesian tradition, over the status of philosophy and its relation to theology.
I have also published a book examining the concept of debt from the perspective of language, history, and political economy.
I am a founder and co-director of the Future of Work and Income Research Network at the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs. This is an interdisciplinary network of scholars and researchers, inside and outside the academy, whose work addresses the biggest questions concerning the future of work – what it might be, and what it could be.
I am on the Executive Committee of the Aristotelian Society and the Management Committee of the British Society for the History of Philosophy. And I am a Research Scholar at the Global Institute for Sustainable Policy.
I appeared on the BBC Green Thinking podcast, discussing climate change and the future of work with Professor Des Fitzgerald and Dr Jane Parry.
I participated in a webinar with Rebuilding Macroeconomics on the question of whether private debt forgiveness should be part of the coronavirus exit strategy.
I appeared on the BBC World Service programme, In the Balance, to discuss the Green New Deal, with George Selgin and Ellen Brown.
I gave a public lecture on the ethics of debt and finance at the Lit & Phil Library in Newcastle, hosted by Bigg Books.
I am doing a series of interviews on philosophy of economics with Conatus News – the material is available here.