Books | Books in Preparation | Public Writings | Articles | Grants & Awards | Articles Under Review | Articles in Preparation | Encyclopedia Entries | Editing | Book Reviews
My writings fall under a few categories. As a scholar, I write academic works such as books, journal articles, edited book chapters, encyclopedia entries, and book reviews. As a citizen and advocate, I write guest columns in newspapers, letters to the editors of various newspapers and magazines. I am developing a few projects that build on my scholarly work, but that I am writing for general audiences. So far, my goal has been to solidify my philosophical tools and ideas. In current and future projects, I communicate the value of philosophical study for practical, real-world problems of ethics, leadership, and policy.
My academic research and writing focus on several overlapping areas of interest. The first two are ethics and political philosophy. I am most concerned about how to live well and to organize a society that will be just and flourishing. In that endeavor, though, crucial matters arise about how to know what to do, which is a question that fits in the field of epistemology. Therefore, I write about epistemology, the study of the nature knowledge, the origins of concepts, and the strategies we can use to best promote intelligent social action. Finally, I approach these subjects with a favorite tradition, American pragmatism. Another area of specialty for me, then, is pragmatic philosophy, especially John Dewey's.
My research is sometimes focused on the probing questions that arise in abstract philosophical debates. At the same time, I see a continuity between apparently abstract philosophical beliefs and practical applications of them. So while I may write on matters of metaethical debate, I also enjoy writing about practical concerns, such as one recent project on government expansions in internet access or another on the ethics of fundraising. In one way, then, I am an epistemologist who attends to the practical, moral, and political consequences of theories of concept formation and knowledge. Given my attention to application, I am in another sense an applied ethicist and pragmatist, with a number of projects treating matters of public policy. The following is a list of some of my work that has been published and other projects that are in progress.
NEWS: In 2014, my work was nominated for the University of Mississippi's Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award.
Click on the title or the image on right for more information about each book.
NEWS: Democracy and Leadership was nominated for two book awards in 2014: 1) the 2014 Outstanding Leadership Book Award issued by the University of San Diego's School of Leadership and Educational Sciences; and 2) the American Philosophical Association's 2014 Sanders Book Prize.
Democracy and Leadership: On Pragmatism and Virtue presents a theory of leadership drawing on insights from Plato’s Republic, while abandoning his authoritarianism in favor of John Dewey’s democratic thought. The book continues the democratic turn for the study of leadership beyond the incorporation of democratic values into old-fashioned views about leading. The completed democratic turn leaves behind the traditional focus on a class of special people. Instead, leadership is understood as a process of judicious yet courageous guidance, infused with democratic values and open to all people. Click here for a 30% discount offer with a discount code from the publisher.
NEWS: Morality, Leadership, and Public Policy was nominated for the American Philosophical Association's 2014 Joseph B. Gittler Award.
In Morality, Leadership, and Public Policy, I argue for an experimentalist approach to moral theory in addressing practical problems in public policy. The experimentalist approach begins moral inquiry by examining public problems and then makes use of the tools of philosophy and intelligent inquiry to alleviate them.
In Rawls, Dewey, and Constructivism, Eric Weber examines and critiques John Rawls' epistemology and the unresolved tension - inherited from Kant - between Representationalism and Constructivism in Rawls' work. Weber argues that, despite Rawls' claims to be a constructivist, his unexplored Kantian influences cause several problems. In particular, Weber criticises Rawls' failure to explain the origins of conceptions of justice, his understanding of "persons" and his revival of Social Contract Theory. Drawing on the work of John Dewey to resolve these problems, the book argues for a rigorously constructivist approach to the concept of justice and explores the practical implications of such an approach for education.
My next book after Democracy and Leadership will be titled A Culture of Justice. I will post more information about this book here in the near future. The quick explanation will likely speak most to scholars: It is a fusion of the insights of John Dewey and Richard Rorty with challenges and contributions that John Rawls encountered and offered regarding the extent to which culture can inhibit or enable the pursuit of justice. I argue that institutions are empowered or frustrated by culture, but institutions can also help reshape cultures for the better. The book will address the challenges in the way of Rawls's theory of justice with help from the Pragmatists' ideas about shaping culture democratically and with democratic values. More on this soon.
America's Public Philosopher: John Dewey,
This work will be an edited collection of John Dewey's public writings, which I will organize thematically. The goal is to showcase some of the best efforts of America's greatest public philosopher, in order to illustrate the nature and impact of public philosophical engagement. The work can serve as an example for philosophers today to follow. It also includes many pieces which speak to problems that we continue to face today. I offer an introduction to the collection, in which I define, defend, and promote public philosophy. More on this soon.
With a Foreword by the Honorable Governor William F. Winter, after whom the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation was named.
One Mississippi is a short book which applies a philosophically informed theory of democratic leadership to Mississippi’s challenges. The book begins with an examination of Mississippi’s apparent Catch-22, which I argue can be overcome. The worry is that we cannot fix the economy without fixing education, yet we cannot address education without addressing the challenges of poverty.
First, in chapter 1, the problem of poverty is reconsidered, since the traditional approach to addressing poverty has for so long been unsuccessful. Next, in chapter 2, the challenges of educational failure are explored to reveal the extent to which there appears to be a caste system of schooling in Mississippi, in which certain groups of people are educated in schools that are underfunded and failing. The ideals of democracy reject hierarchical citizenship, and thus are tested in Mississippi. In chapter 3, theories of good leadership in general and of democratic leadership in particular are introduced to offer a framework for addressing Mississippi’s challenges with the guidance of democratic values.
The book draws on insights from classical and contemporary philosophical outlooks on leadership, which highlight four key social virtues: wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice. Within this framework, Mississippi’s problems of poverty and educational frustration are approached in a novel way that is applicable in and beyond the rural South. In chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7, each of the virtues of democratic leadership is emphasized with application to particular problems and areas of public policy.
The book concludes with some overarching lessons to draw and values to advance in addressing Mississippi’s problems and opportunities for progress. Finally, 7 editorial essays are included in the appendix as examples of engagement in public inquiry for the sake of democratic leadership.
Culture Bound: Overcoming Self-Fulfilling Prophecies of Failure in Education,
Mississippi and other poor regions in the United States suffer from mutually aggravating problems of poverty and educational failure. The situation looks like a Catch-22, since to improve one problem requires resolving the other. At bottom, I argue that the most pernicious problem for poor people in Mississippi and elsewhere is the internalization of expectations of failure. This problem is the subject of my book, Culture Bound: Overcoming Self-fulfilling Prophecies of Failure in Education. I argue that we must fight culture with culture. We must overturn the powerful, detrimental influences that push kids to drop out of school, which they do because they see no future in it for themselves. The kinds of problems and solutions I see for Mississippi, furthermore, are applicable to countless communities beyond the state and the nation. Mississippi is one of the toughest cases, the ultimate test for big ideas about overcoming seemingly intractable problems. As such, I believe that this project will appeal to people wherever poverty discourages educational attainment. (To read The Clarion Ledger article that explains part of this project, click here.)
The Meaning of Moderation: On the Virtue of Centrism in Politics,
In the last few years, people have rushed back to the works of Ayn Rand to refresh their ideological points of view. People have a great need to understand political positions and to find ideological allies. There are many books about hard line views, therefore, such as from libertarians, solid liberals, and ardent conservatives. There are very few books that address the middle, however. I think most people are in the middle, yet they are treated as indecisive, needing to "get off the fence." I disagree. I believe that the best things to do are almost always a matter of finding the mean between divergent values. In this context, I am writing a book called The Meaning of Moderation: On the Virtue of Centrism in Politics.
The book proceeds in three parts. Part I begins with two chapters diagnosing the problem today of having voices represent hard line views almost exclusively. I show how people like Bill O'Reilly, Keith Olbermann, and Glenn Beck stoke the fires of ideological difference. My next chapter focuses on politicians, whom we hope would be more sensible, addressing figures like Jimmy Carter, Newt Gingrich, Bernie Sanders, and Ron Paul. At times, each exemplifies extreme views.
Part II covers the foundations and challenges of moderation. The first of these chapters addresses the sense in which people like grand principles. John Stuart Mill will be my example of a practical philosopher who did this. Mill was the father of a number of important political views that conflict with one another. Mill was a moderate, however, a person who could appreciate the value of competing ideals. He was also elected to public office for a term, something uncommon among professional philosophers. The next chapter deals with the fact that we like sensationalism. We are entertained by firefights over culture wars. Philosopher Georg Hegel shows us how even when we are surrounded by fighting and incivility, we can rest assured that synthesis will be the outcome of the clash of opposing views. This explains why the United States will certainly lean politically, but will always be a center-right or center-left nation - i.e., if we're doing the right thing. Finally, even if we enjoy the bustle of competing political banners, we nevertheless can see the value of moderation in our private lives and relationships. In the next chapter of Part II, therefore, I present Aristotle's timeless contribution to thinking about friendship, which he took to be the central political virtue. Even if we disagree passionately about what to do, we are still citizens of the same country with many common causes. Aristotle's philosophy taught us about the Golden Mean, the guiding lesson of The Meaning of Moderation: that virtue, in life as in politics, is the mean between extremes of behavior.
Part III applies the lessons of moderation in six chapters, covering live and controversial political topics, before a brief conclusion. The first three topics covered are religion versus secularism, patriotism versus criticism of America, and the evil vs. divinity of business and industry. The next three topics deal with social programs vs. personal responsibility, terrorism and torture, and international interference vs. laissez-faire approaches. The book addresses each of these topics with the idea of appreciating the criticisms that conflicting ideologies level, while offering sensible, moderate reactions. Finally, the book closes with acknowledgement that costs accompany all decisions. Moderation teaches us to appreciate the worth of competing values and the immense costs of holding one point of view to the exclusion of all others.
I have worked on this project on and off for several years. I'm in no rush to finish it, but would enjoy doing so someday. It is a simple gathering of the greatest insights that have made a profound difference for the better in my life. Philosophy is full of invaluable life lessons, even if some or many philosophers are not happy people. Many others are, and I believe that those who follow some of philosophy's greatest insights for living well are far more likely to be happy.
While many of my writings are intended for academic audiences, some of my book projects and a number of other writings are intended for wider audiences. In short, there is overlap between my writings and my public engagement efforts. Since some of my articles primarily target public audiences and are fewer in number, I have for now put a list of them on my public engagement page - Click here to see that list of public writings. I have also started a blog in the last year on which I write about current events or ideas that intrigue me when inspiration comes and time allows. You can visit my blog by clicking here.
“On Pragmatism and International Relations: Empiricism, Stoic Optimism, and Collaborative Culture,”
Chapter 1 in Philosophical Pragmatism and International Relations: Essays for a Bold New World, edited by Shane Ralston,
Lanham, MD: Lexington Books (a division of Rowman and Littlefield Publishers), 2013, 25-49.
"James’s Critiques of the Freudian Unconscious – 25 Years Earlier," William James Studies, Volume
9, Issue 1, December 2012, 94-119.
"What Experimentalism Means in Ethics,” the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Volume 25, Number 1, 2011, p. 98 - 115.
“Deweyan Experimentalism and Leadership,” in Dewey's Enduring Impact: Essays on America's Philosopher, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2011, p. 293 - 301 and 385 (notes).
With Dr. David Rutherford, “Ethics and Environmental Policy,” to be included in Handbook of Climate Change Mitigation, Chapter 9, 40 pages, Springer, forthcoming 2011.
“The Third Enlightenment as American: A Reply to Kondylis,” Skepsis, Volume 21, Issue 2, 2011, p. 97 - 107.
“On Applying Ethics: Who's Afraid of Plato's Cave?” Contemporary Pragmatism, Volume 7, Number 2, December 2010, p. 91 - 103.
“A Historical Mandate for Expanding Broadband Internet Infrastructure,” Review of Policy Research, Volume 27,Issue 5, September 2010, p. 681 - 689.
“Civil Religion,” with Richard Couto, Chapter 57 in Political and Civic Leadership, edited by Richard Couto,Washington, D.C.: Sage Press, 2010, p. 505 – 512.
“Democratic Political Leadership,” Chapter 13 in Political and Civic Leadership, edited by Richard Couto, Washington, D.C.: Sage Press, 2010, p. 105 – 110.
“James, Dewey, and Democracy,” William James Studies, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2009, p. 90 – 110.
“Social Contract Theory, Old and New,” Review Journal of Political Philosophy, Volume 7, issue 2, p. 1 – 23, 2009.
“The Responsibilities and Dangers of Pragmatism,” Philosophy in the Contemporary World, Volume 16, Issue 1, April 2009, p. 122 – 129, published with response, “What Can Philosophers Contribute?” on p. 130 – 134 by John Lachs.
“Religion, Public Reason, and Humanism: Paul Kurtz on Fallibilism and Ethics,” Contemporary Pragmatism, Volume 5, Number 2, December 2008, p. 131 – 147.
“Learning from Others: What South Korean Technology Policy Can Teach Mississippi,” Review of Policy Research, Volume 25, Issue 6, Special issue on science andtechnology, December, 2008, p. 608 – 613.
“Dewey and Rawls on Education,” Human Studies, Volume 31, Issue 4, December, 2008, p. 361 – 382.
“Lessons for Leadership from Keping and Dewey,” Skepsis, Volume XIX, Issues 1 & 2, 2008, p. 100 – 111.
“Proper Names and Persons: Peirce’s Semiotic Consideration of Proper Names,” Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, Volume 44, Issue 2, Spring, 2008, p. 346 – 362.
“Clearing the Path to Human Rights.” Humanity at the Turning Point, Sonja Servomaa, ed., Renvall Publications Series no 23, Helsinki, Finland: Renvall Institute, University of Helsinki, 2006.
The following are grants and awards that in some cases apply exclusively to my research, in others concern my service efforts, and in others regard teaching, research, and service. A number of these are grants that I wrote and applied for, so I list them here under the category of this "Writings" page.
In December of 2012, the American Philosophical Association awarded the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA) a grant that I wrote, with $1,000 of support for our 2013 events.
In October of 2012, the Mississippi Humanities Council awarded the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA) a grant that I wrote for $2,500 of support for a 2013 event.
In May of 2012, I was honored to be selected for the Frist Student Service Award at the University of Mississippi, for "going the extra mile in unwavering dedication to students." More information on this is posted on my "Teaching" page.
In January of 2012, I was awarded a grant from the University of Mississippi's College of Liberal Arts to support my research for the upcoming summer, when I will complete my manuscript for the book, A Culture of Justice.
In July of 2011, I was awarded a grant to support my research from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, along with support from the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Public Policy Leadership, totalling $3,500.
In May of 2011, I was honored to receive the Cora Lee Graham Award for the Outstanding Teaching of Freshmen. For more information on this, visit my "Teaching" page, in the "Honors" section, which you'll find by clicking here.
Departmental Summer Research Award, Public Policy Leadership, University of Mississippi, summer 2011.
Faculty Travel Support Award, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, University of Mississippi, $500 for travel to the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy's Summer Institute, in Eugene, OR, July 2011.
American Philosophical Association Grant to support the Society of Philosophers in America's (SOPHIA) “Democracy and Civic Participation: Two Symposia on Philosophy and Public Engagement,” awarded $4,000 for events in 2011.
Mississippi Humanities Council grant to support a Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA) symposium titled “Disability, Civic Responsibility, and Community Friendship,” awarded $5,000 in fall of 2010 for the event in 2011.
Faculty Travel Support Award, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, University of Mississippi, $1,500 for travel to the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy's Summer Institute, in Eugene, OR, July 26-31, 2010.
Departmental Summer Research Award, Public Policy Leadership, University of Mississippi, summer 2010.
Honored with Distinguished Membership in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars for “outstanding contributions to the classroom, the campus, and the community,” July 2009.
American Philosophical Association Grant for 3 projects for the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA), $2,400 with $3,700 match, 2009.
Departmental Summer Research Award, Public Policy Leadership, University of Mississippi, summer 2009.
Mississippi Humanities Council Grant for SOPHIA symposium on “Ethics at the End of Life,” with Jo Ann O’Quin, $1,994 with $2,700 match, January 2009.
Mississippi Humanities Council Grant for the Mississippi Philosophical Association’s Medical Ethics Conference, $2,920 with $5,900 match, November, 2008.
Visiting Research Fellow, Center for Inquiry Transnational, Amherst, NY, July 2008.
Departmental Summer Research Award, Public Policy Leadership, University of Mississippi, summer 2008.
College of Liberal Arts Summer Research Grant, The University of Mississippi, $8,400 for summer 2008.
Invited to the Greek Life luncheon in recognition for “Outstanding service to Ole Miss,” spring 2008.
Faculty Travel Support Award, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, University of Mississippi, $1,500 for travel to “Transforming Regional Economies,” in Baltimore, MD, October 2007.
Andrew P. Smith Writing Award, Southern Illinois University, 2005.
S. Morris Eames Philosophy Graduate Student Award, "Awarded to an outstanding graduate student in philosophy,"Southern Illinois University, 2004 – 2005.
N.E.H. Young Scholars Summer Research Grant Award, summer 1996.
I have a number of works in progress. I will update this section soon.
"Doubt, Self-Doubt, and Self-Respect: On Psychology, Culture, and Justice.”
I have many papers in preparation for submission to journals and for adaptation into book chapters. For a long list of papers I have presented, have a look at my curriculum vitae, on which I offer a list under the section called “Presentations.” The following papers are a handful of projects that are fairly far along in the process of development, though some of them have been on the back burner for quite some time...
“A Culture of Justice: on Rawls, Dewey, and Rorty,” finishing.
“The Role of the Philosopher in Public Policy,” finishing.
“Fiscal Responsibility and the ‘Use it or lose it’ Rationale for Spending,” revising.
“Stoicism’s Value and Some Challenges,” to be sent to the Journal of Philosophy.
“John Dewey,” in Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Communication, Volume 1, pages 216 - 218, Sage Press, 2010.
“Deductive Logic,” in Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Communication, Volume 1, pages 206 - 207, Sage Press, 2010.
“Inductive Logic,” in Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Communication, Sage Press, 2010.
“Education: American Philosophers on,” in American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia, edited by John Lachs and Robert Talisse, 206 – 209, New York, Routledge, 2008.
“Intelligence,” in American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia, edited by John Lachs and Robert Talisse, 403 – 405, New York, Routledge, 2008.
“Temperament,” in American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia, edited by John Lachs and Robert Talisse, 754 – 756, New York, Routledge, 2008.
Revised Robert Hahn’s, Conduct and Constraints, 8th ed., Pearson, 2008, from 7th Ed., see p. xiii. This is Hahn's textbook for his Ethics courses, which he teaches at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, in Carbondale, IL.
Clanton, J. Caleb. Religion and Democratic Citizenship: Inquiry and Conviction in the American Public Square in Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, Volume 45, Issue 3, 2010, p. 449 – 452.
Frank, Jill. A Democracy of Distinction. In the Review of Metaphysics, LX, No. 2, Issue 238, p. 396 – 397, December 2006.
Kellogg, Frederic R. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Legal Theory, and Judicial Restraint. In The Pluralist, Volume 7, Issue 3, 2012, p. 136 – 139.
Lachs, John. A Community of Individuals. In Teaching Philosophy, 29:1, p. 72 – 74, March 2006.
Putnam, Hilary. Ethics without Ontology. In The Journal of Value Inquiry, Vol. 41, No. 2 – 4, p. 359 – 361, December, 2007.
Tong, Rosemary, A. Donchin, and S. Dodds, editors. Linking Visions: Feminist Bioethics, Human Rights, and the Developing World. In Teaching Philosophy, 29:4, p. 367 – 369, December 2006.