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Research

My research is in political philosophy, mostly on issues in environmental, social, and global justice, such as climate change, migration, and urban politics. Much of my work so far has focused on the issue of climate displacement. You can listen to me talking about this research here. I'm currently working on a new project on urban justice. You can find information about my published and forthcoming works below.

Research: Experience
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Research: About Me

Books

Climate Displacement (link)

Oxford University Press (2023)

The impacts of climate change are reshaping patterns of displacement around the world. Extreme weather events destroy homes, environmental degradation undercuts the viability of livelihoods, sea-level rise and coastal erosion force communities to relocate, and risks to food and resource security magnify the sources of political instability. Climate displacement—the displacement of people driven at least in part by the impacts of climate change—is a pressing moral challenge that is incumbent upon us to address.


This book develops a political theory of climate displacement. Most existing work on climate displacement has tended to take an idealised “climate refugee” as its object of analysis. But this approach does not take seriously the complexity and heterogeneity of climate displacement. Instead, this book takes the empirical dynamics of climate displacement as its starting point. It examines the problems raised by the interaction of climate change and displacement in five practical contexts: community relocation, territorial sovereignty, labour migration, refugee movement, and internal displacement. In each context, climate change raises distinct problems and questions, which this book explores on their own terms. At the same time, this book treats climate displacement as a unified phenomenon by examining the overarching questions of responsibility that it raises. The result is an empirically grounded political theory of climate displacement that both maps the conceptual terrain of climate displacement and charts a course for meeting the moral challenge that climate displacement raises.

The Political Philosophy of Internal Displacement (co-edited with David Owen) (link)

Forthcoming with Oxford University Press (2024)

The situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has been a matter of international concern (and legal debate) since at least the late 1990s and early 2000s, and its salience has only risen in the context of extreme weather events produced by intensifying climate change. Yet political philosophy has barely touched on this issue, despite its close connection to, and potential significance as a site of reflection on, lively and expansive debates on migration, refugees, territorial rights, state sovereignty and climate change. The aim of this volume is to highlight the salience of the phenomenon of internal displacement to these wider debates and to set the philosophical agenda for articulating a political ethics of internal displacement.

Internal displacement is a pressing practical issue that political philosophers are well-situated to investigate, and that internal displacement is a site of inquiry that prompts us to refine and revise the philosophical tools that we traditionally bring to bear in our analysis. Internal displacement relates to existing debates in political philosophy on topics such as migration, territorial rights, and climate change, but it also requires us to depart from the established frameworks that we have for analysing these topics. It is, as such, a site of reflection to which political philosophers can contribute, but also one from which they can learn and develop. In this volume, we bring together those working at the forefront of these debates, in order to develop a distinctive research agenda on the political philosophy of internal displacement.

With contributions from Eilidh Beaton, Michael Blake, Megan Bradley, Rebecca Buxton, Jamie Draper, Matthew Lister, David Miller, Cara Nine, Paulina Ochoa Espejo, David Owen, Laura Santi Amantini, Anna Stilz, and Allison Wolf.

Research: Experience

Journal Articles

Climate Change and Displacement: Towards a Pluralist Approach
European Journal of Political Theory 23, no. 1 (2024) (published version - open access)

This paper sets out a research agenda for a political theory of climate displacement, by critically examining one prominent proposal—the idea of a normative status for ‘climate refugees’—and by proposing an alternative. Drawing on empirical work on climate displacement, I show that the concept of the climate refugee obscures the complexity and heterogeneity of climate displacement. I argue that, because of this complexity and heterogeneity, approaches to climate displacement that put the concept of the climate refugee at their centre will fail to treat like cases alike and relevantly different cases differently. In response to these failings, I outline an alternative—the pluralist theory of climate displacement—which confronts the specific challenges that climate displacement poses in different practical and institutional contexts, whilst also treating climate displacement as a unified phenomenon at the second-order level of burden-sharing.

Gentrification and Integration

Journal of Political Philosophy (2023) (published version - open access) [online first]

Advocates of racial justice disagree about the role that residential integration should play in remedying racial injustice. This paper explores how racialised contexts of gentrification relate to and can shed light on this question. I take as my focal point the debate between Elizabeth Anderson and Tommie Shelby and examine three arguments for residential integration that Anderson makes: the opportunity argument, the epistemic-democratic argument, and the relational-democratic argument. I argue that racialised contexts of gentrification reveal some important limits to each argument for integration. But the upshot of my argument is not that we should abandon integration: my argument leaves open space for a modified defence of integration. Ultimately, however, I suggest that such a modified defence of integration faces some important challenges of its own. The paper also responds to some recent arguments which suggest that gentrification’s benefits can be harnessed, and its burdens can be limited, for the project of integration.

Justice and Internal Displacement
Political Studies 71, no. 2 (2023) (published version - open access)

This paper develops a normative theory of the status of ‘internally displaced persons’ (IDPs). Political theorists working on forced migration have paid little attention to IDPs, but IDPs bear a distinctive normative status that implies a set of rights that its bearer can claim and correlate duties that others owe. This paper develops a practice-based account of justice in internal displacement, which aims to answer the questions of who counts as an IDP and what is owed to IDPs (and by whom). Section I addresses the question of who counts as an IDP by offering an interpretation of the conditions of non-alienage and involuntariness. Section II articulates an account of what is owed to IDPs that draws on and refines the idea of ‘occupancy rights.’ Section III sets out an account of the role of the international community in supplementing the protection of IDPs by their own states.

Refugees, Membership, and State System Legitimacy
Ethics & Global Politics 15, no. 4 (2022) (co-authored with Rebecca Buxton) (published version) (pre-print)

In the literature on refugeehood in political theory, there has been a recent turn towards what have been called “state system legitimacy” views. This paper seeks to develop the state system legitimacy view of refugeehood by subjecting the most developed version of it—the account developed by David Owen—to critical scrutiny. We diagnose an ambiguity in Owen’s theory of refugeehood, in the concept of political membership, and unpack the implications of this ambiguity for state system legitimacy views. First, we reconstruct the key aspects of Owen’s account of refugeehood and show how it represents an advance over competing theories. Then we discuss the methodological underpinnings of Owen’s account, showing the constraints and opportunities faced by state system legitimacy views. Next, we raise some problems for the conceptual distinctions that Owen develops between different types of refugee protection: asylum, sanctuary, and refuge. Finally, we distinguish two interpretations of political membership in the institution of refugeehood and chart out some possible ways forward for state system legitimacy views.

Gentrification and Everyday Democracy
European Journal of Political Theory (2022) (published version - open access) [online first]

This paper diagnoses a novel problem with gentrification: that it can hinder valuable forms of everyday democratic communication. In order to make this argument, I develop a democratic interpretation of Iris Marion Young’s “ideal of city life,” according to which social differentiation is valuable because of the epistemic role that it plays in the production and circulation of diverse social perspectives. I then leverage that ideal to examine two kinds of spatial and demographic changes associated with gentrification: community disintegration in enclaves and homogenisation in public spaces. I argue that community disintegration in enclaves can make the production of social perspectives within disadvantaged communities more difficult. I then argue that homogenisation in public spaces can undermine the role of such spaces as sites of democratic performance for the wider circulation of social perspectives in the public sphere. Finally, I reflect on the reach of my argument for broader judgement about the permissibility of policies that foster or permit gentrification.

Labor Migration and Climate Change Adaptation
American Political Science Review 116, no. 3 (2022) (published version) (pre-print)

Social scientific evidence suggests that labour migration can increase resilience to climate change. For that reason, some have recently advocated using labour migration policy as a tool of climate adaptation. This paper engages with the normative question of whether, and under what conditions, states may permissibly use labour migration policy as a tool of climate adaptation. I argue that states
may use labour migration policy as a tool of climate adaptation, and may even have a duty to do so, subject to two moral constraints. First, states must also provide acceptable alternative options for adaptation, so that the vulnerable are not forced to sacrifice their morally important interests in being able to remain where they are. Second, states may not impose restrictive terms on labour migrants in order to make accepting greater numbers less costly for themselves, because doing so unfairly shifts
the costs of adaptation onto the most vulnerable.

Domination and Misframing in the Refugee Regime
Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 25, no. 7 (2022) (published version) (pre-print)

The current practices of refugee protection largely leave the burdens of the refugee regime to lie where they fall. Those states which are geographically proximate to refugee-producing regions, already amongst the least advantaged, bear the bulk of these burdens. In this paper, I critically assess two proposals which seek to address this maldistribution: a market in asylum services and a principle of comparative advantage. I argue that from the standpoint of justice, these proposals share two objectionable features. First, they enable relations of domination between states, because they ignore the background relations of inequality upon which they depend for their effectiveness. Second, they institute an injustice of ‘misframing,’ in that they preclude consideration of refugees’ legitimate claims to be hosted (or not to be hosted) in a particular state. The failings of these approaches are illuminating and, I argue, provide us with some theoretical desiderata for a positive account of justice in the distribution of responsibilities to refugees.

Responsibility and Climate-induced Displacement
Global Justice: Theory, Practice, Rhetoric 11, no. 2 (2019) (published version - open access)

Winner of the 2018 Jonathan Trejo-Mathys Essay Prize​.

This paper addresses the phenomenon of climate-induced displacement. I argue that there is scope for an account of asylum as compensation owed to those displaced by the impacts of climate change which needs only to appeal to minimal normative commitments about the requirements of global justice. I demonstrate the possibility of such an approach through an examination of the work of David Miller. Miller is taken as an exemplar of a broadly ‘international libertarian’ approach to global justice, and his work is a useful vehicle for this project because he has an established view about both responsibility for climate change and about the state’s right to exclude would-be immigrants. In the course of the argument, I set out the relevant aspects of Miller’s views, reconstruct an account of responsibility for the harms faced by climate migrants which is consistent with Miller’s views, and demonstrate why such an account yields an obligation to provide asylum as a form of compensation to ‘climate migrants.’

The Ethics of Climate-induced Community Displacement and Resettlement
Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 9, no. 3 (2018) (co-authored with Catriona McKinnon) (published version)

Climate‐induced resettlement programs are happening right now in places around the world where populations face high risks from climatic impacts. Burgeoning literatures are considering the ethical implications of climate change more broadly, and the ethics of migration, but the nexus between the two issues has not been given enough attention by moral and political theorists, especially with respect to climate‐induced community resettlement. Here, we sketch the key nodes in a debate we think should take place, which will be made even more urgent in the coming decades as climate change impacts on communities least resilient to it.

Research: Experience

Other Publications

Anthropocene

International Encyclopaedia of Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette, Blackwell (2022) (published version) (pre-print)

Review of Michael Blake, Justice, Migration, and Mercy
Res Publica 27, no. 2 (2021) (published version) (pre-print)

Research: Experience
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