In my dissertation, I engaged wide ranging debates concerning the methodological foundations of social science, with a particular focus on the nature of ethical convictions and the phenomenon of persuasion. I showed how and why ethical persuasion is crucially important for resolving many social problems that have proved intractable within conventional frameworks of social science analysis, such as negotiating multicultural difference in liberal democracies and developing the political-economy of the third world. The interests animating my dissertation led to a number of further projects, including experimental field work on “trust” in Southeast Asia, laboratory investigations of economic preferences, and philosophical and statistical appraisals of biological-behavioral research, particularly in behavioral genomics. As a Research Fellow at Harvard’s Ethics Center I am currently working on a series of theoretical and empirical studies aimed at better characterizing diverse rationales for corruption and distrust in political, financial, and medical institutions. The results will help inform a further set of investigations that examine strategies for eliciting ethical behavior in institutional settings where straightforward incentive design is infeasible.
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