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Fabienne Peter - Research

My research projects are in four main areas of philosophy: normative moral and political philosophy, metanormative moral and political philosophy, social epistemology, and the philosophy of economics.

I. Normative Moral and Political Philosophy

The focus of my research in this area is on political legitimacy, democracy, and justice.

I am interested in the question of what, if anything, justifies democratic decision-making and in the relationship between political legitimacy and justice. I have published a book on Democratic Legitimacy and I am the author of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on “Political Legitimacy”.

I have also written on public health ethics, focusing on the relationship between social justice and health inequalities. I have co-edited Public Health, Ethics, and Equity with Sudhir Anand and Amartya Sen.

More recently, I have been working on human rights and legitimacy in an international context. My main emphasis is on the human right to political participation.

II. Metanormative Moral and Political Philosophy

I have a longstanding research interest in public justification and public reason – an interest that grew out of my past work on John Rawls’ political philosophy, especially his theory of political legitimacy.

My current research focuses on practical uncertainty and on how epistemic constraints – constraints regarding what we know and/or justifiably believe – affect the justification of actions and institutions in moral and political contexts.

One starting-point for this research are moral, political and/or factual disagreements and their implications for epistemic and practical justification: under what conditions do disagreements about how we ought to act or which social institutions are justified undermine the justification of actions or institutions? A recent paper on public reason addresses this question. As part of this project, I have also written on the epistemic basis of political liberalism and on epistemic constraints on democratic justification.

A further related research project is on reasons, both practical and epistemic. One question I am currently interested in is how normative uncertainty affects our reasons for action.

III. Social Epistemology

I have a longstanding interest in social epistemology, including feminist social epistemology.

My recent work on social epistemology focuses primarily on the epistemology of peer disagreements. In a recent paper on this topic, I have argued that peer disagreements give rise to second-personal epistemic reasons. I am now exploring the role of epistemic self-trust and trust in others in the epistemology of peer disagreements.

IV. Philosophy of Economics

Some items on my publication list reflect my past life in an Economics Department – they are on a range of topics in the philosophy of economics. I have written on coercion in economic transactions, for example. With Hans Bernhard Schmid, I have co-edited a book on the rationality of committing to cooperate with others.

List of Publications