I studied at Brown University, Tibet University, and University of Michigan. My research focuses on questions in virtue ethics, moral psychology, and Buddhist philosophy.
Please see my CV or my PhilPeople profile for more detailed information.
For many of us, no matter what we do, no matter how well we try to distract ourselves, there is always a buzz of anxiety in the background of our minds. We can never truly connect with others or focus on the task at hand. Life’s worries, big and small, fill us with dread. Buddhist thought and practice offer tools to dispel the buzz, and to engage with life in an authentic and meaningful way, by showing us how to see the world more clearly. If we only see the world through the prism of ourselves, we see it incorrectly—we miss the point. This short and friendly primer presents a guide to the good life that anyone can follow, laying out the basic philosophical ideas behind Buddhism’s teachings and offering practical techniques and practices.
What does it mean to be a morally good person? It can be tempting to think that it is simply a matter of performing certain actions and avoiding others. And yet, there is much more to moral character than our outward actions. We expect a good person to not only behave in certain ways, but also to experience the world in certain ways within. Pleasure, emotion, and attention are important parts of our moral character despite being involuntary inner states. Inner Virtue defends a theory of why and how such states are relevant to moral character: These states say something about what kind of person one is by manifesting our deepest cares and concerns.
Oxford University Press (2020)
Oxford University Press (2018)
The Dissenter Interview (2021)
A longer video interview with Ricardo Lopes where I discuss Buddhism and philosophy.
A podcast from the Perennial Leader Project where I discuss some of the themes from Seeing Clearly.
Foreword Face Off (2020)
I talk with Matt Sutherland about some of the ideas from Seeing Clearly.
Larry Meiller Show Interview (2020)
A radio show interview on Wisconsin Public Radio about Buddhism and my book Seeing Clearly.
UnMute Podcast Interview (2020)
3:16 Magazine Interview (2016)
I discuss Buddhist ethics, some of my research, and recommend five philosophy books.
Encyclopedia & Other Articles
Modesty means more, not less (Aeon, 2019)
A short article where I describe what I think modesty is and why it's important.
Modesty and Humility (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2018)
An overview of some of the main philosophical debates surrounding modesty and humility.
A brief introduction to some of the major issues in Tibetan philosophy.
An explanations of the metaethical views of Bimal Krishna Matilal (1935-1991) and their roots in classical Indian philosophy.
An account of when and why anger is morally virtuous or vicious. I argue that anger is made morally virtuous or vicious by its underlying cares or concerns.
An introduction and translation of a short ethical treatise written in Tibet in the late 18th century. The Khache Phalu is a text of ethical advice that draws on both Buddhist and Islamic thought. It discusses the context, major themes, and secondary literature (and includes the full Tibetan text).
Following of Aristotle, many have thought that we cultivate virtues by doing the actions associated them. Drawing on techniques from Tibetan Buddhism, I discuss methods of moral development involving imagination and visualization rather than overt action.
I argue that there are ways of acting in solidarity with others that are not public and do not aim at producing social change. I call this 'private solidarity' and defend an account of how it can be morally virtuous and what role it can have in moral development.
I defend a Buddhist-inspired account of how patience can count as a moral virtue, arguing that virtuous patience involves having a perspective on the place of our own desires and values among others and a sense of their relative importance.
I argue that neither ignorance nor accuracy about the good qualities related to oneself is necessary for modesty. I then defend an attention-based account, claiming that what is necessary for modesty is to direct one’s attention in certain ways.
I offer some objections to the 8th century Buddhist philosopher Śāntideva’s argument that anger towards those that harm us is never justified and argue that the text is best read as practical advice rather than as making philosophical claims about rational coherence.
I argue that self-ascribed anti-expertise, taking our own beliefs to be false, is not always irrational.