Chapters, Essays, and Invited Pieces


Kiobel, Bauman, and the Presumption Against the Extraterritorial Application of the Alien Tort Statute

Journal of International Human Rights 13, no. 1 (April 2015): 50–81.
Abstract: The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. greatly curtailed the sorts of claims that can be brought under the Alien Tort Statute. Contrary to some predictions, however, it did not dictate an effective end to international human rights litigation under the ATS or require that the defendant be a United States national. The Court (may have) suggested that some tort claims arising under the law of nations might displace the presumption against the ATS’s extraterritorial applicability, so long as those claims “touch and concern the territory of the United States” with “sufficient force.” The possibility of such claims was important enough that Justice Kennedy’s emphasized it in his concurring opinion. The Court left specifying the test for when a claim’s nexus with the territory of the United States did have “sufficient force” for another day. In the following term, however, it placed a further restriction upon litigation against foreign entities—human rights claims or otherwise—by clarifying general personal jurisdiction in Daimler AG v. Bauman. This comment suggests that, because Bauman serves to allay the foreign policy concerns that gave rise to Kiobel in a more surgical manner, and because the effect of Kiobel is to leave litigation concerning overseas violations of customary international law to the state courts, Kiobel should be read to bar less human rights litigation than it otherwise might. [JIHR]


The Fading Promise of a More Meritocratic Society

Perspectives on Political Science 42, no. 4 (October 2013): 212–16.
Abstract: Administrative practices, political initiatives, and budgetary concerns are eroding the ability of most universities to fulfill their mission as engines of meritocratic upward mobility. Colleges fulfilled this mission because they signaled that a student had acquired—or had always possessed—superior skills. Elite universities admit students who we know can succeed: Upward mobility occurred because other schools took chances on students whose backgrounds suggested that they might or might not succeed. Pushes to improve undergraduate retention and completion rates at these other universities result in a lowering of standards that threatens their signaling role, and with it, their ability to open doors for their students. [Taylor & Francis]


Renaissance and Early Modern Political Thought

In Encyclopedia of Modern Political Thought, ed. Henry Claeys (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2013).
Abstract: Discusses the impact of Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke in breaking from medieval political thought and laying the groundwork for the Enlightenment, the separation of politics and religion, individual rights, and democracy. This revolution was prepared by denying the naturalness of politics, which in turn required the denial that man’s true good lay in something other than bodily pleasure and the absence of pain. Medieval and modern natural law are contrasted, as well as Thomas More’s alternate conception of the role of political philosophy. [CQ Press]


Aristotelian Kingship and Lockean Prerogative

In Recovering Reason: Essays in Honor of Thomas L. Pangle, ed. Timothy Burns (New York: Lexington Press, 2010).
Abstract: One common target of thoughtful criticism is political legalism, or the conviction that government action is justifiable only as the application of pre-existing general laws to particular cases. This conviction is open to two objections. First, circumstances can arise to which the existing law is poorly suited and which require an immediate response. Second, laws cannot be simply just, no matter how ingenious. Both Aristotle and Locke evince support for both objections, yet the fact that they turn their readers’ attention more completely toward one objection or the other sheds light on the deeper disagreements between them regarding man’s relation to politics, the role of the philosopher, and the basis of a natural right teaching. Locke’s doctrine regarding extralegal action cannot be reconciled with a healthy political life because of his disagreements with Aristotle on these question. Aristotle’s teaching seems to give less immediate political guidance but is ultimately more capable of improving the practices of political men. [AMAZON]


Locke and the Challenges of Crisis Government

The Good Society 18, no. 2 (Winter 2009): 20–25.
Abstract: The turn to John Locke’s doctrine of prerogative sheds light on the problem of crisis government, but is out of place in discussions of American politics. The specifics of Locke’s doctrine are tied to his narrowly positivistic conception of law, a conception that was rejected in Anglo-American jurisprudence. We permit more discretion within the law, rendering that discretion safe through a system of checks and balances, and so there is less justification for stepping outside of the law. What appeals to the deficiency of law in the American context in fact do is seek to sidestep checks and balances, not remedy the inherent defects of law. [ProjectMuse]


Liberal Education for Liberal Democracy

2009 Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest, 2nd prize.
Abstract: This essay argues that a liberal education is the best defense against the more venal manifestations of materialism and uninformed political judgments that most seriously threaten to corrode liberal democracy. Consequently, support for the independence and intellectual seriousness of universities is crucial to the development of the virtues required by civic life. [Independent Institute]

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