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Adam Lovett

I am a Lecturer at the Australian Catholic University (ACU). I previously taught at the London School of Economics (LSE) and completed a Ph.D. in philosophy at New York University (NYU) in July 2021.


I work on the ways in which real-world democracies fall short of democratic ideals. My book, Democratic Failures and the Ethics of Democracy, argues that these shortfalls transform the rights and duties of ordinary citizens. You can buy it hereClick here for a thirty percent discount flyer. If video is your thing, you can watch me give a précis of the book here

My email is:

Here is my CV


I have a lot of different projects. My four big ones right now are:


  • How well do actual democracies realize democratic values? What do their failures mean for ordinary citizens? This is an interdisciplinary project. There is a vast trove of empirical findings about real-world democracies. I'm interested in explaining the normative significance of these findings. My big practical conclusion is that the shortfalls of our democracies mean that we don’t have a moral obligation to obey the laws. 

  • What institutions could improve our democracies? This another empirically-rooted project. I’m interested in how incremental, politically feasible reforms can help improve our democracies. I focus on electoral systems, direct democracy, decentralization, civic education, compulsory voting, and supermajority rules. 

  • What is the nature of equality and autonomy? This project is a foundational one on how to understand these values generally—which I take to be the distinctive values that democracy helps realize.  We can understand equality wholly in terms of power asymmetries. But we need an institutionally-mediated theory of autonomy.

  • What is the general nature of our normative reasons? This is a joint project with Stefan Riedener. We’re trying to provide a new, general, account of what we have reason to do. Think of it as a competitor to Utilitarianism or virtue ethics. We think that one can understand a whole swathe of ethical phenomena in terms of contact with value. We have reason to get in touch with the good, and contact with value amplifies the weight of the reason that value grounds. 


Additionally, I have a misspent youth as a metaphysicist—my first few publications were formal papers on the metaphysics of ground. You can find many of the papers constituting these projects below.



Democratic Failures and the Ethics of Democracy. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2024. First chapter. Order Here.

Peer Reviewed Papers

  1. The Egalitarian Objection to Coercion. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. Forthcoming. Paper here. Abstract.                                                                                         

  2. Adam Lovett and Stefan Riedener. The Good Life as the Life in Touch with the Good. Philosophical Studies. 2024. Paper here. Abstract.                                                      

  3. Adam Lovett and Stefan Riedener. Commonsense Morality and Contact with Value. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 2024. Paper here. Abstract.                                                               

  4. Property and Non-Ideal Theory. Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. 2023Paper hereAbstract.                                                             

  5. The Ethics of Asymmetric Politics. Politics, Philosophy & Economics. 2023. Paper here. Abstract.                                                   

  6. Should Canada have oaths of allegiance? Canadian Journal of Foreign Policy. 2023. Paper hereAbstract.                                                      

  7. Adam Lovett and Jake Zuehl. The Possibility of Democratic Autonomy. Philosophy & Public Affairs. 2022. Paper Here. Abstract.                                                                              

  8.  Adam Lovett and Daniel Sharp. What Immigrants Owe. Ergo. 2022. Paper hereAbstract.                                                      

  9. The Loving State. Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. 2022. Paper hereAbstract.                                                                                         

  10. Voter Motivation. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy. 2022. Paper hereAbstract.                                                                                 

  11. Adam Lovett and Stefan Riedener. Group agents and moral status: what can we owe to organizations?. Canadian Journal of Philosophy. 2021. Paper here. Abstract.                                                 

  12. Must egalitarians condemn representative democracy?. Social Theory and Practice. 2021. Paper hereAbstract.                                                                                               

  13. Democratic Autonomy and the Shortcomings of Citizens. Journal of Moral Philosophy. 2020. Paper hereAbstract.                                                                                   

  14. Adam Lovett and Stefan Riedener. On Keeping Things in Proportion. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy. 2019. Paper hereAbstract.                                                                     

  15. The puzzles of ground. Philosophical Studies. 2019. Paper hereAbstract.                                                   

  16. A Simple Proof of Grounding Internality. Thought. 2019. Paper hereAbstract.                                                                          

  17. The logic of ground. Journal of Philosophical Logic. 2019. Paper hereAbstract.

In Preparation

Relational (in)equality

Wealth, Power, and Equality. Draft here. AbstractHandout.

Egalitarian Anarchism. Draft hereAbstract. Handout.

A Relational Egalitarian Solution to the Boundary Problem. Draft here. Abstract

Corporations and Subordination. Draft here. Abstract

Contact With Value


Adam Lovett and Stefan Riedener. Touching the Good. Draft hereAbstract.

Institutions and Autonomy

The Fair Share Theory of Conventional Normativity. Draft Here. Abstract

An Institutional Theory of Autonomy. Draft Here. Abstract

Book Reviews


  1. Review of Wealth and Power: Philosophical Perspectives, edited by Michael Bennett, Huub Brouwer, and Rutger Claassen. Forthcoming. Economics and Philosophy. Paper here.                                   

  2. Review of Ethical Autonomy: The Rise of Self-Rule, by Lucas Swaine. Journal of Moral Philosophy. 2022. Paper here.                        

Public Pieces


  1. What’s wrong with tree vandalism? On democracy and the shared authorship of public spaces. ABC Religion & Ethics. May 2024. Online here.                                                                                                       
  2. Written evidence submitted to the Joint Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry into civics education, engagement, and participation in Australia. May 2024. Online here.                                                                    
  3. Should a man accused of murder run for re-election? The curious case of Ryan Bayldon-Lumsden". ABC Religion & Ethics. March 2024. Online here.                                                                
  4. Written evidence submitted to the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy inquiry into `Defending Democracy.' February 2024. Online here.                                                                         

  5. Should the House of Lords be more democratic?. British Politics and Policy. November 2023. Online here.     

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