I am Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, where I was department chair for six and a half years. Before coming the University in the spring of 2002, I taught at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. My very first tenure-track job was at the University of Ottawa, and I have held visiting positions at UNC Chapel Hill, the University of Texas at Austin (Government), two campuses of the University of California, the Université de Montréal, and several other universities. And I was affiliated for many years with the research group CREA, situated at the École Polytechnique in Paris. My doctorate was awarded by the University of Toronto in 1977. I was born in Washington DC and grew up in Paris and Brussels.
My main interests lie in moral, political, and legal philosophy and the theory of practical rationality. In moral theory I have written a number of papers about contractarian moral theory, and much of my interest here concerns our reasons to be just. I also have interests in practical or applied ethics, in particular questions about moral standing (or moral status). In political theory a lot of my work has focused on the state, which I think of as a distinctively modern form of political organization. At present I am especially interested in what might be called the cement of societies, to borrow the title of one of Jon Elster’s books, what is it that holds societies together. My current book project is tentatively entitled Social Order, Liberty, and Prosperity: Political Philosophy for our Time. I argue that securing social order is a more serious problem that many think, and that liberty and prosperity cannot be secured in the absence of a number of institutions, most importantly the rule of law. In addition, a “common culture” may also be needed. Nationality is one such common culture, and I wonder to what extent societies can hold together without a common national culture.