Research

My research concerns living a meaningful life, specifically what we can do to live lives that are meaningful for us, and how we can do those things. I am particularly focused on what forms of socially embedded technology can help or hinder our making our lives meaningful. Related to this, I am developing a general picture of manipulative design as a form of systemic manipulation. In the near future, I plan to take an in-depth look at technologies such as cognitive-behavioral techniques and psychedelic-assisted therapy to develop a picture of how technology might positively support living meaningful lives.

Below is a brief list of my writing on these and other topics. For more information, download my CV here.

Published or Forthcoming

This paper accounts for gamification as a species of nudging in which game-like rules enable certain patterns of playful, heuristic reasoning and acting. Design choices like these are manipulative when, and because, the activity they induce serves the designers' hidden purposes.

(Manuscript available, please email.)

This paper connects personal meaning to the pattern of activity over time in which we learn how to better care for things and people in our lives. It argues that this process of becoming more fulfilled through what we do is a genuinely subjective source of meaning in life, and that two popular arguments in the literature against such subjectivist theories fail. It also shows that the view on offer is broadly intuitive.

[preprint]

This paper offers an account of Nietzsche's remarks on cruelty in light of his drive-based picture of human psychology. After offering a conceptual analysis of cruel acts, it argues for a psychologically pluralistic understanding of "the will to power" to make sense of Nietzsche's high regard for cruelty, especially self-directed cruelty, in individual greatness.

[PhilPapers] [JSTOR]


I also have a couple of papers under review tackling issues in the nature and ethics of nudging, and the role of narratives in living a meaningful life, respectively. Currently, I am developing two papers on manipulative design that address underexplored distinctions between, respectively, manipulation and certain forms of strategic deception (such as morally permissible non-disclosure), and manipulation and exploitation of psychological factors (such as of addictions). Further out, I plan to offer a philosophically cogent account of integration in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.