Peer-Reviewed Publications

"Concepts in Context: Ontological Coherence in Political Science Research" (with Moritz S. Graefrath)
Philosophy of the Social Sciences, forthcoming.

Political methodologists have long sought to develop standards that can guide political scientists in the process of concept formation. Yet, the methodology literature has struggled to provide satisfactory solutions to the fundamental problem of conceptualization: for any given concept, there are a large number of attributes one could postulate as its defining characteristics, and it is unclear how to adjudicate between different possible definitions. We leverage the fact that the theory within which a concept appears places important restrictions on concept formation: conceptualizations entail ontological claims that need to be consistent with those of the theories in which they appear.

"Do You Believe in Deep Down? On Two Conceptions of Valuing" (with Lukas Beck)
Synthese, 202, 16.

In this paper, we explicate an underappreciated distinction between two conceptions of valuing. According to the first conception, which we call the surface-account, valuing something is exclusively a matter of having certain behavioral, cognitive, and emotional dispositions. In contrast, the second conception, which we call the layer-account, posits that valuing is constituted by the presence of certain representational mental states underlying those dispositions. In the first part of the paper, we introduce the distinction in proper detail and show that the accounts have different implications regarding the valuings of agents. In the second part, we situate the accounts within the extant philosophical literature. First, we relate them to the recent debate between so-called dispositionalists and representationalists about the nature of beliefs and point out that this debate can help anticipate some of the main dialectical fault lines to be expected between surface- and layer-theorists. Second, we examine the contemporary meta-ethical debate on conceptualizing valuing, indicate that scholars have largely ignored the distinction introduced here, and outline that this oversight has substantial theoretical costs: as we show, key arguments within the meta-ethical debate require thorough re-evaluation in light of the proposed distinction. The third part of the paper illustrates the theoretical leverage of the distinction for practical research by exploring its implications for behavioral welfare economics.

"Conceptualizing Interstate Cooperation" (with Moritz S. Graefrath)
International Theory, 15(1), 24-52.

There seems to exist a general consensus on how to conceptualize cooperation in the field of international relations (IR). We argue that this impression is deceptive. In practice, scholars working on the causes of international cooperation have come to implicitly employ various understandings of what cooperation is. Yet, an explicit debate about the discipline’s conceptual foundations never materialized, and whatever discussion occurred did so only latently and without much dialog across theoretical traditions. In this paper, we develop an updated conceptual framework by exploring the nature of these differing understandings and situating them within broader theoretical conversations about the role of cooperation in IR. Drawing on an array of studies in IR and philosophy, our framework distinguishes between three distinct types of cooperative state interactions – cooperation through tacit policy coordination (‘minimal’ cooperation), cooperation through explicit policy coordination (‘thin’ cooperation), and cooperation based on joint action (‘thick’ cooperation). The framework contributes to better theorization about cooperation in two main ways: it allows scholars across theoretical traditions to identify important sources of disagreement and previously unnoticed theoretical common ground; and the conceptual disaggregation it provides grants scholars crucial theoretical leverage by enabling type-specific causal theorization.

"Normative Models and Their Success" (with Lukas Beck)
Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 51(2), 123-150.

In this paper, we explore an under-investigated question concerning the class of formal models that aim at providing normative guidance. We call such models normative models. In particular, we examine the question of how normative models can successfully exert normative guidance. First, we highlight the absence of a discussion of this question – which is surprising given the extensive debate about the success conditions of descriptive models – and motivate its importance. Second, we introduce and discuss two potential accounts of the success conditions of normative models. Our tentative conclusion is that the second account is more promising, according to which normative models exert normative guidance insofar as they extend normative justification from cases in which we have firm normative verdicts to cases of normative uncertainty.

Working Papers