My dissertation, “Hegel on Internal and External Freedom: A Reading of the Philosophy of Right,” examines the theory of freedom underpinning Hegel’s social and political philosophy, with a focus on Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1821). My account relies on a distinction between “internal” and “external” freedom. An “external” conception of freedom constitutively references an agent’s relations to other agents or to social and political institutions, whereas an “internal” conception freedom views freedom as an “inward-looking” or personal achievement. In the dissertation, I show that focusing on the internal-external distinction illuminates the distinctiveness of Hegel’s conclusions, in relation to both historical and contemporary accounts of freedom and autonomy. In particular, I show how Hegel’s theory of freedom challenges a standard view, of which Kant offers a representative articulation, according to which we can adequately characterize internal freedom independently from external freedom, and vice versa. Ultimately, according to Hegel’s full theory of freedom, the internal and external dimensions of freedom are constitutively interconnected. Along the way, I show how focusing on the internal-external distinction helps clarify Hegel’s arguments at each of the major twists and turn of the Philosophy of Right, shedding light on Hegel’s defense of property rights, his critique of Kant’s moral philosophy, and his account of the contribution that social roles—for example, the roles of family member and citizen—make to individual freedom.
The Transition to Self-Consciousness in the Phenomenology of Spirit
Review of Metaphysics 76 (2):267-303.| Published version | Penultimate draft
I provide an interpretation of Hegel’s argument that the attempt to arrive at a scientific understanding of the world in terms of forces and laws necessitates an investigation of self-conscious subjectivity (this argument is referred to in the secondary literature as the “transition to self-consciousness”). I argue that we can make sense of this transition by attending to Hegel’s account of the metaphysics of the object: that is, Hegel’s conception of the structure of the ultimate object of knowledge. Doing so reveals that Hegel advances the view that the object must be self-determining in order to be knowable, and furthermore defends the view that self-consciousness itself exhibits a self-determining structure. In addition to making sense of the transition itself, this line of argumentation opens up possibilities for understanding Hegel’s subsequent focus on practical activity and the topic of freedom in the “Self-Consciousness” chapter.
Purposiveness, the Idea of God, and the Transition from Nature to Freedom in the Critique of Judgment
Proceedings of the 13th International Kant Congress ‘The Court of Reason’ (Oslo, 6-9 August 2019). Ed. Camilla Serck-Hanssen and Beatrix Himmelmann. Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2021. | Published version | Penultimate draft
I develop an interpretation of Kant’s understanding of how theoretical inquiry helps us to view a deterministic natural world as amenable to our purposes as free moral agents. I argue that a neglected part of Kant’s account turns on his argument that the theoretical attempt to uncover new laws of nature require us to assume, for the sake of inquiry, the existence of God as the author of the world.
In a longer version of this paper, I extend this account to offer an interpretation of Kant’s account of how the teleological judging of organisms contributes to the transition from nature to freedom. See a draft here.
Papers in progress
- “The ‘Spiritual Animal Kingdom’ and the Struggle for Recognition” (draft available)
- “External and Internal Freedom”
- “Hegelian Social Identification and Political Power”