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Overview of Research

(1) Democracy and Government
My main question of interest with democracy is whether, and to what extent, the limitations with voter knowledge and behaviour are a problem for representative government. In my view it isn't a problem: democracy can still be legitimate, and political accountability is still possible, even though voters know little about government performance. Nevertheless, there are plausible alternatives to democracy that could produce more responsive, and less corrupt government.

My work has also explored current issues with free speech. In particular, I have looked at the categories we should use when assessing speech restrictions. The current concern about speech matters, particularly in higher education, are not really issues of a lack of freedom of speech as a civil right, but a pressure to self-censor, or as I prefer to talk about it, to 'self-silence'. This is commonly referred to as 'the chilling effect'.

(2) Religious Attitudes - Trust, Faith and Belief
A prominent focus of my research has been the development of an account of faith as a psychological attitude. The main idea, represented in a number of my papers and in my forthcoming monograph, is that faith comes in several varieties that all exhibit kinds of resolute commitment. This can include belief that is resolute in the face of counter-evidence, and perseverant trust in others. Part of this work also explores how it is that faith can be an intellectual virtue. In forthcoming work, I have been exploring how faith can be a global trait, and how this relates to global trust and hope.

As part of my role at the policy institute, I am a researcher on the PERITIA project, which investigates the role and importance of trust in experts.

(3) Religious Attitudes in Politics and Public Life
My main area of research here looks at how religious views influence someone's approach towards climate change policy and action. For more information, see my projects.

I have also explored issues concerning fundamentalism and extremism. My work has looked at the role of two key drivers in the uptake and resilience of extremism and fundamentalism: echo chambers and bad intellectual character, or 'intellectual vice'. In my view, these ideologies, stances and movements are inherently social and are ideal sites for the cultivation of bad intellectual character (like closed-mindedness, conformity and conspiratorial thinking). This work has been carried out in my capacity as an Associate Member of the Extreme Beliefs project based at VU Amsterdam.

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