“It is very good that more and more analytic philosophy is being directed towards the conceptually trickiest practical problems of our time... However, given how our subject has been developing over the last 40 or so years there is real reason to fear that philosophy will die the death of dissolving completely into more technical sub-disciplines. The great challenge is to find ways of educating excellent professional philosophers to keep an active interest in more than one contemporary branch, and in some of the great past philosophers, and to be animated by an open-ended love of adventures in ideas while fully maintaining their obsessional practice of critical clarification. The latter is essential for the subject to move forward, but without the former that subject risks ceasing to be philosophy.” -Sarah Broadie FBA
Welcome! I am a research fellow at Yale Law School's center for internet law, the Information Society Project, where I work on the normative foundations for the regulation of data driven technologies.
I hold a JD and a PhD in legal philosophy from UC Berkeley and have parallel interests in several areas of law and philosophy. You can find out about these in the Research page of this website.
It is a convention in academia, especially in academic philosophy, to identify ourselves in terms of narrow areas of specialization and competence. But I find myself having followed the late professor Broadie's advice closely in pursuing an open ended love of adventures in ideas. Having had the privilege of studying at a truly multi-disciplinary program for my PhD, I keep a diverse research agenda that spans the intersection of law with practical, comparative, and theoretical philosophy.
My previous degrees (in Rhetoric, Classics, and Philosophy) and my side-vocation as a technologist only contribute to the diversity of my research interests. This much interdisciplinarity may pose a risk to the career of a junior academic, but it is a small one, after all, lest philosophy dies a death of over specialization, in me, or in the world!
In my PhD dissertation, I offer an alternative to the legal positivism/ anti-positivism and propose a new position in general jurisprudence, according to which, legal obligations arise from the value of legally constituted social practices that are integral to human life. This defends the common-sense intuition that one should generally follow the law but can never hide behind it to do something immoral.
Much of my other work concerns social justice and largely falls within the rubric of practical philosophy (ancient and modern, Eastern and Western).
My interest in legal philosophy started with my experience of growing up in Iran and what I saw as a philosophical problem in the ideal of the rule of law. It is said that the rule of law, as an ideal, obtains when the law (rather than people) rules. Where I grew up, systematic oppression is unleashed onto the population by way of purportedly democratic law. Even in genuinely democratic societies, the law is said to compel its subjects. When the law compels, it can force its subjects to, say, follow traffic rules or observe covid-safe protocols. But it can also torture, silence dissent, and terrorize the population to create submission to those ruling. Is there something essentially different about the nature of law in these two kinds of cases? Where there is rule of law then, which of the two obtains: an institutionally sophisticated way of domination or a pluralist, impersonal, impartial form of government? Although my interest in these questions grows out of personal struggles, whether one should obey or disobey the law is a question that affects us all, especially those of us acting in some official capacity.
I held a graduate research position at King's College, Cambridge (2019-20) and a visiting membership of the Cambridge Forum for Legal and Political Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law.
My first name is pronounced like Aminoacid. I have a non-dashed-two-word-last-name, which is confusing. Chances are you’ll encounter me also as Ebrahimi, Afrouzi, or E. Afrouzi!
He or They Series
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