Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
I am a John and Daria Barry Postdoctoral Fellow in the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University. My work explores the social and cultural factors at play when moral problems become objects of medical theory, assessment, and treatment. I focus specifically on medical constructions of tragedy as a window into broader cultural sensibilities about human values: what it means to be human, what our purpose is, what makes for a good life (especially when everything seems to be going badly), and the like. I explore why the historical actors who medicalized tragedy asked the questions that they did, and why they accepted some answers over others. I then work to fill the philosophical gaps my historical explanations expose in contemporary ethical scholarship. So far, I have focused on the following themes:
Histories of Suffering in Western Medicine and Thought
The Historiography of Suffering
The state of the art of suffering in the history of medicine and adjacent historical subfields, as well as exchanges between them.
Different methodologies for historicizing suffering.
Intellectual and Cultural Histories of Tragic Medical Experiences
The intellectual and cultural history of suffering in 20th-century American medicine, with a special focus on bioethical and medico-legal theories of suffering.
The intellectual histories of moral injury and of distress in medicine.
Broader Histories of Suffering in Western Thought
Using digital humanities tools and more traditional methodologies to recover concepts and moral values of suffering across different versions of the Western canon.
The intellectual history of suffering in normative ethics.
Medical Philosophies of Suffering & Other Tragic Experiences
Philosophical Implications of My Historical Research
Grounding in historical context various philosophical positions on the nature of suffering, as well as its distinctness from related experiences such as pain.
Applying the findings from my historical studies of suffering to current disputes over the assessment (especially measurement) and treatment of suffering.
The following philosophical aspects of suffering: distinctions between pain and suffering; discrepancies between pain science and bioethical/medical theories of suffering; the satisfactoriness of these theories; and whether suffering from disease or injury can be ennobling.
Definitions of moral injury, distress, and moral distress.
Blog and Podcast
When I'm not researching, I'm thinking about how to square it with my family life as a mom to three rambunctious boys. To that end, I recently launched a Substack blog/podcast called Anscombe's Juggle, where I plan to interview parent-scholars and share insights from my own parenting journey.