My general research interests concern the question “what’s missing?” broadly construed. I am particularly interested in how our theories, models, questions, measurements, systems, policies and ways of living exclude or obscure parts of the world, and how all this impacts our abilities to ask different questions and make better decisions.
For example, I am currently finishing a dissertation about “silences” in health and healthcare. In healthcare ethics, there has been a push to pay more attention to the stories and testimonies of patients. The hope is that creating more spaces for listen to patient stories can help us do things like (1) build better relationships with patients, (2) provide them better health outcomes, and (3) generate more complete and representative data for policy and research. I think this is an important approach. But I also believe than an emphasis on accessing and listening to stories can (4) obscure the structures and processes that produce silences–those things that make stories and testimonies unavailable to us, and (5) downplay the ways that silences can be communicative, can be productive, and even important sites of resistance. Not all silences are strictly absences, and not all silences are necessarily things we need to break! My goal with this dissertation is to complicate how people in philosophy and healthcare think about patient stories by focusing on the silences we ignore, and to offer some recommendations toward a more critical understanding of silence.
Lately, I’ve been particularly interested in how these things matter for how we understand death, and especially suicide. How have our standard ways of understanding death or suicide impacted the research and knowledge we’ve produced and rely upon? What perspectives and data are missing from the key debates around suicide, and what might including these reveal about our assumptions to date? What does it mean, for example, to ask whether bridge barriers to prevent suicide “work” or “succeed,” and how would we measure such a thing? I believe the ways we count and measure deaths, especially suicide deaths, often lead us astray. For a sample of what this might mean, scroll down to my presentations!
In healthcare, I’m also interested in things like:
- How the ways we theorize, measure, and practice “health” often exclude disabled people from health research, policy, and care;
- How we measure and interpret death data, particularly around suicide;
- How we interpret and communicate scientific findings; and in general
- How our tools for measuring and assessing “health” miss or obscure parts of the world, especially the often neglected experiences of marginalized communities.
In philosophy, I’m generally interested in things like:
- Who has been able to shape what counts as “philosophy” and how we even decide such a thing;
- How philosophers engage with (or not!) different kinds of empirical evidence and research methods, especially in ethics and in the philosophy of science;
- How we should understand things like death and grief, and even the idea of ghosts;
- What we should do in cases where the right course of action seems impossible, and how material resources, disabilities, and environments can constrain knowledge and moral action; and
- How our theories and debates actually connect to the constantly changing state of the world, and to different industries and disciplines (especially philosophy’s relationships to media and design, to architecture and material studies, to disability and queer and trans studies, to physics and psychology, and to all fields of health).
Many of the publications below are not open access (OA), simply because I cannot afford the personal fees to make these publications public. OA is a great principle, but is inaccessible for early career researchers expected to pay a thousand dollars out of pocket to designate their articles as OA. If you don’t have access to the below, but want to read them, feel invited to email me for a copy!
- “Whose Mental Data? Privacy Inequities and Extended Minds” (2023) suggests that researchers concerned about accessing mental data (our thoughts!) should attend to how existing privacy inequities might inform and impact whose mental data is at risk. This is an “open peer commentary,” a short piece responding to a paper by Spyridon Orestis Palermos.
- “Buddhism and Neuroethics Research: On Catching a Snake” (2022) suggests that the Alagaddūpama Sutta might tell us a few things about how to integrate Buddhist teachings into neuroethics research. If I could go back, I’d probably change the subtitle to “On Holding and Letting Go.” This is an “open peer commentary,” a short piece responding to a paper by Laura Specker Sullivan.
- “Bioethics, Philosophy, and Philosophy of Disability” (2022) suggests that conversations about what philosophy could contribute to bioethics should pay attention to the philosophy of disability. This is an “open peer commentary,” a short piece responding to a paper by Jennifer Blumenthal-Barby and others.
- “Dialogues on Disability: Shelley Tremain interviews C Dalrymple-Fraser” (2018) shares some of my research interests in an interview format. The blog it was hosted on in 2018 no longer exists, so the link above is to an archived page (it might take a moment to load). Shelley Tremain continues to run the monthly “Dialogues on Disability” interview series with disabled philosophers, which is now hosted over at Biopolitical Philosophy blog. Go check it out!
- In progress: I currently have another conversational piece about disability and bioethics in the works for a special issue in a bioethics journal, and some drafts in development about teaching bioethics to undergraduates. Most of my attention is on my dissertation right now, but I’m happy to talk about these projects to anyone interested.
I largely prefer presenting to writing; I enjoy talking with people, seeing and reacting to my audience, and working out incomplete ideas with others. If you’re looking for one of my past talks, my slides, handouts, or recordings, please feel invited to email me! Below are some of the talks that have been (or will be) recorded in the past year or so.
- “Banal Deaths and Resistant Grief: Loss in Andor” (2023) at the Realizing Resistance Conference. This talk explores the representations of grief in the television show Andor. The conference itself is for academics studying all things Star Wars, with an emphasis on things having to do with justice and resistance. Conference registrants can access annotated slides via the “Narratives of the End” panel channel, and a recording will be publicly available in coming weeks.
- “Reconsidering Suicide: A Morbid Approach” (2022) was my first attempt at communicating some of my concerns about how we measure and conceptualize “suicide.” The ideas here are framed mostly for people interested in bioethics, trying to see how these ideas would be taken up. It was recorded at the Joint Centre for Bioethics Seminar Series, and available on their YouTube page.
- “Disabling Suicides in COVID-19” (2022) is the follow-up to my other suicide talk above, with more of a focus on disability than on bioethics. It was presented for the University of Pennsylvania Minorities and Philosophy conference on the Philosophy of Disability and Illness. One of the conference organizers has posted it to their YouTube page, and you can find a copy of my handout on the Conference Website (scroll down to the schedule).
- Some other talks I’ve given through the pandemic have titles like “Saving Lives, and Then What? A Need for Increased Attention to Morbidity Outcomes in Suicide Prevention Research” (2022), “COVID-19 and the Curbcut Effect: Disabled Design and Public Health” (2021), “What’s in a Word? ‘Disability’ in Health Research and Practice” (2021), and “Ghostly Epistemologies and Haunting Knowledges” (2020).