What I’m Working on Now

I’m revising my first monograph, provisionally titled Humanist Certainty. Broadly speaking, the book argues that the ancient notion of certainty, alien to the modern concept of the same name, is most fully theorized in Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria as a term denoting customary agreement, not unimpeachable truth. This consensus-based understanding of certainty, built upon earlier sources including Aristotle and Cicero, exerts an influence on Quintilian’s humanist readers—including Lorenzo Valla, Thomas Hobbes, and Giambattista Vico—who use it to ground their writings on law, logic, and science. The second half of the book, which treats these later authors, focuses on the writings on Lorenzo Valla, Thomas Hobbes, and Giambattista Vico.

Building on an essay originally published in Commonweal Magazine, I am now writing a second book (The Fairness Doctrine: A History of Equity, Fortress Press) on one historically influential strand of thinking surrounding equity that begins in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. This ancient formulation of “equity”—or epieikeia in Aristotle’s Greek text—as a flexible interpretation of statutory language exerts a powerful influence on early modern jurisprudential thinkers, including the Framers of the United States Constitution.

Alongside some other shorter writing projects, I’ve started to draft a short script inspired by my close friendship with a nonagenarian in New York during the height of the first wave of coronavirus infections in early 2020.

I frequently train with Mill City Running in Minneapolis, no matter the frigid temperatures. There’s a truly great, vibrant running community here in the Twin Cities.

I’ve become a civic evangelist for Vote Forward, a volunteer organization devoted to increasing voter participation in the United States. You can register to vote or confirm your voter registration at Vote.gov.

(last updated 2/12/2024)