Research Interests

My research is currently focused on a concept I call care exploitation. Care exploitation, basically put, occurs when one undermines the dignity of another that has caring sentiments by taking advantage of their vulnerability which arises from caring. Examples of those subjected to the structural and interpersonal care exploitation include public school teachers, US soldiers, mothers, and domestic care workers. In my work I suggest traditional theories of exploitation fail to properly capture this pervasive phenomenon, and offer an account of both interpersonal and structural care exploitation. I also consider who bears responsibility, and how we ought to rectify or prevent it moving forward. 

Future lines of research expanding upon this project include looking at particular case studies in practical ethics and global justice, as well as considering the implications of taking care exploitation seriously for the plausibility of systematic political theories. Among those case studies I’d like to engage with in a more focused manner are surrogates, migrant laborers, organ donors, and conservation workers. Regarding systematic political theories, I’m particularly interested in whether contractarianism can explain the injustice of care exploitation, and if not, whether it’s a salvageable system.

Other areas of research I’m eager to build upon are global justice and public reason. One project I am developing explores whether considerations of care have profound effects upon what theory of global justice ought to be adopted. Problems I’m considering include whether the domestic model of caring democracy offered by Joan Tronto can be effectively scaled up, and, if so, whether that model (statist or cosmopolitan) is satisfactory. Another substantive project considers the scope of and criterion for participation in public reason, as well as the role public reason should play in the shaping of just domestic and global institutions. Expanding on this line of work involves articulating why domestic and global public reason ought to be pursued; namely, that an individual’s participation in public reason is integral to exercising freedom of affiliation and control over one’s environment. From here, I will look to other theories of global justice and whether they can reasonably accommodate public reason. 

You can read an accessible and publically-oriented piece I wrote about the care exploitation of essential workers at the APA Blog


McKittrick-Sweitzer, L. (2024). Preventing the Exploitation of Activists' Care. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice.

McKittrick-Sweitzer, L. (2023). Care Exploitation: Taking Advantage of One’s Caring about Another. Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 9(3), Article 4. Retrieve from:

McKittrick-Sweitzer, L. (2023). Introduction to the Book Symposium on Freedom to Care: Liberalism, Dependency Care, and Culture by Asha Bhandary. Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review, (62)2, 203-217.

McKittrick-Sweitzer, L. (2022). Caring for Liberalism: Dependency and Liberal Political Theory. The Philosophical Quarterly.

Fritz, J., McKittrick-Sweitzer, L., D’Arms, J. & Jorati, J. (2021). The Philosophy and Critical Thinking (PACT) Summer Camp at Ohio State. In C. Katz (Ed.), Philosophy Camps for Youth: Everything You Wanted to Know about Starting, Organizing, and Running a Philosophy Camp (61-76). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

McKittrick-Sweitzer, L. (2020). Charles Mills’ “The Racial Contract”. In: Sellers M., Kirste S. (Eds.) Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy. SpringerLink.

McKittrick-Sweitzer, L. (2019). The Instability of the Law of Peoples and a Suggested Remedy. Public Reason 11(2), 19-25. Retrieve from:

McKittrick-Sweitzer, L. M. (2018). Review of “Exploitation: From Practice to Theory” edited by Monique Deveaux and Vida Panitch. Essays in Philosophy, 19(2), Article 13.

Works in Progress

"Responsibility for Care Exploitation" 

"The Conditions of Structural Care Exploitation"

"Care Exploitation as Oppressive Double Bind"

"Does UBI Exacerbate Care Exploitation?"

“Identifying Exploitation and Providing Care: Unifying the Capabilities Approach and Feminist Contractarianism”

"A Hamptonian Theory of Global Justice"