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Garthoff's research focuses on intersections among ethics, politics, and law. He has published essays on corporate personhood, duties to obey the law, democratic legitimacy, and John Rawls's theory of justice. He is currently exploring the implications of empirical studies of nonhuman animals in ethics and law. He has been Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Tennessee, as well as a member of the Program Committee for the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association; he is also a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Justice at the University of Tennessee.
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Articulates an account of the role of stability in John Rawls's political theory of justice. This account emphasizes the continuity of Rawls's thought over time and motivates the view that Rawls's understanding of stability is as significant and as distinctively Rawlsian as his favored conception of justice.
Articulates two pairs of theses about the relationship between the right and the good and sketches an account of morality that systematically vindicates all four theses, despite a nearly universal consensus that they are not all true.
Supports the broad contours of David Favre’s framework, but raises challenges for some of the framework’s elements.
Raises doubts about the prospects for accounting for the moral status of animals within ethical theories descended from Immanuel Kant. It also begins to sketch an alternative account which captures many virtues of Kant's theory while providing a better account of the status of animals.
Argues that the legitimacy of a law is neither necessary nor sufficient for its normative authority, and further that the need for legitimacy in law arises regardless of whether the law is coercively enforced. A new understanding of legitimacy is offered, one which improves on those already articulated in the traditions of liberalism and deliberative democracy.