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Current Research: Caring among Equals 

My current project explores how the fact of our need to receive and provide care shapes the way in which we should conceive an egalitarian society. My first objective is to propose an account of care suitable for a political theory of care which does not exclusively focus on dependency care but broaden the scope of care without losing sight of its distinctiveness. Second, I reflect on the relationship between care, justice and equality. I explore how a focus on care invites us to abandon the distributive paradigm in favour of an approach centred on relationship and on how state institutions, social structures and norms can support relationship of care. I propose a novel understanding of justice and relational equality informed by our nature as needy and caring beings and, in doing so, I investigate whether adopting this perspective requires us to abandon the liberal Rawlsian tenets of much existing theorising on justice and relational equality, especially when it comes to the political conception of the person. Third, I explore some of the dilemmas that relational egalitarians face when reflecting on care, also in light of the fact that existing care arrangements, and especially the allocation of care-giving responsibilities, cause and reinforce some of the most pervasive gender, race, and class inequalities. I address questions around domination in relationships of care and the role that inequalities of esteem, recognition and status have in determining our caring arrangements, and their justice. Finally, I will explore some of the implications of this view by reflecting on which kinds of caring relationship and practices should be in place in a society of equals and what should be the role of the state in supporing such practices. The main output of this project will be a monograph provisionally titled "Caring among Equals".

Previous Research: Moral Equality and Vulnerability

While at the University of Hamburg, I mainly worked on the concept of vulnerability and its role in the justification of moral equality. The approach to the grounds of moral equality I developed rejects the commonly held assumption of the higher worth of human being grounded in the possession of intrinsic capacities to act autonomously. Instead, I proposed a relational justification of moral equality centered on our vulnerability and the value of relationships of love, care and mutual recognition. My research on the concept of vulnerability addressed three main questions: that of how to define vulnerability, the question of whether vulnerability is necessarily bad and the problem of whether vulnerability is a helpful normative concept. I have also co-authored pieces on the relationship between vulnerability and human rights and the role of moral equality in environmental ethics. Relatedly, together with Christine Straehle, I am also editing a collection on relational equality and vulnerability under contract at Cambridge University Press.

PhD Project: Relational Equality and Punishment

In my doctoral thesis, I started reflecting on the nature of equality by defending a relational understanding of equality. I explored some implications that the commitment to equality, understood as a property of social relations, has on our understanding of the relationship between those who commit criminal offences and the state as well as other members of the political community. This project allowed me to combine my interests in egalitarianism and in the philosophy of criminal punishment and to reflect on some of the ways in which the criminal justice system stigmatises and excludes those who are punished, including the removal of voting rights and the expression of blame by the state. Looking at the social meaning of the actions of the state, I also explored how these forms of exclusion intersect with existing inequalities, especially race and class inequalities. Moreover, I had the chance to explore two under-researched themes in the social egalitarian literature: the relevance for the realisation of social equality of the distribution of social esteem, and of the attitudes expressed by the state through its policies and laws. From my PhD thesis, I published three articles, one on criminal blame, one on penal disenfranchisement and one on inequalities of esteem.

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