I am a political philosopher working at the intersection of contemporary political philosophy, philosophy and public policy, and philosophy of law. My research and publications are primarily concerned with privacy and democracy, although I have also published articles on sexual and racial equality, on intellectual property and the ethics of patenting human genes and am editing New Frontiers in the Philosophy of Intellectual Property for Cambridge University Press.
I became interested in privacy because of feminist criticisms of the public/private distinction. My doctoral thesis, at MIT, was an attempt to show how one might justify legal rights to privacy, philosophically, without justifying sexual inequality. Since then, I have published on privacy and sexual equality, privacy and democracy and on privacy and security, and have finished a short book, On Privacy, which is published as part of Routledge’s Thinking in Action series.
My research on privacy has shaped my work in democratic theory and my particular interest in the ethics of voting. Political philosophers and democratic theorists have paid relatively little attention to the ethics of voting. My research on the secret ballot, compulsory and judicial review, I hope, will alter that neglect. It shows how various are the considerations on which people may legitimately vote; the close connection between democratic rights to participate and to abstain; and the variety of devices, other than elections, which make democratic government possible.
I am now writing Contemporary Democratic Theory: A Critical Introduction for Oxford University Press. It argues that two aspects of democracy have been overlooked or underestimated in much recent democratic theory, although they are critical to understanding the ethics of voting, the varieties of democratic representation and accountability, and the proper division of powers between judiciary and legislature. These two features are: (1) that democratic citizens need no special virtues, knowledge, resources or powers in order to participate in government and to hold positions of special responsibility and public trust; and (2) that democratic politics is a competitive as well as a cooperative business. The book draws out the implications of these claims for the role of lay, as opposed to professional, judgement in democracies, and for the provision of collective goods such as security, healthcare and prosperity.
I am currently an Associate Professor of Normative Political Theory in the Department of Political Science and International Relations of the University of Geneva, Switzerland.