In my research, I attempt to make themes from Kant’s philosophy fruitful for a variety of debates and issues in contemporary political philosophy. Currently, I am engaged in two more specific projects.
The Politics of Place
The first project builds on insights from my PhD thesis (available here), in which I provided a novel reading of Kant’s cosmopolitanism as fundamentally “place-related”. Starting from the insight that humans need to be somewhere in order to act, I showed how Kant develops a distinct domain of political normativity that can neither be reduced to rights that we have in virtue of our humanity in the abstract, nor particular rights of citizenship. Instead, it emanates from a basic reflection on the nature of human coexistence under conditions of limited space constituted by the earth’s spherical surface. Currently, I investigate the relevance of these “place-related” considerations for a number of debates in contemporary political philosophy at the nexus of citizenship, migration and territory. The systematic puzzle in this context is in how far the spatial nature of human agency and political association co-determine what we owe to each other, both within the state context and beyond. One of the specific questions that interest me is which (if any) rights and obligations individuals residing on the territory of a political community other than their own should be thought to have merely by virtue of their continued physical presence – for instance rights to stay, to participate democratically or even to acquire citizenship.
The Politics of Hope
My second research project seeks to develop a framework for thinking systematically about the role of hope in political life and political philosophy. So far, political philosophers have usually shied away from theorizing hope systematically: they take it to express a doe-eyed approach to the world that, by sustaining our interest in the future primarily as spectators rather than agents, condones complacency or at least detracts from what is to be done ‘here and now’. The aim of my project is to resist this tendency by showing that hope is a foundational kind of state that plays an important role in our practical engagement with the world and constitutes an integral part of political agency in particular. In order to make this argument, the project brings Kant's account of hope (as a distinctly first-personal conviction that we can make a difference through our efforts) into conversation with with ongoing debates about hope in analytical philosophy and an emerging literature on the role of hope in politics in particular. My aim is to build a systematic framework that is sensitive to the unavoidability of hope in politics as much as its dangers.