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Current Faculty




Lawrie Balfour, Associate Professor
(Ph.D., Princeton University, 1996)


Lawrie Balfour’s research is animated by two central concerns. The first is to deepen political theory's contribution to the understanding of race and racism in the “post-civil rights” context, and the second is to examine how the work of African American political thinkers tests the limits of theoretical categories and enhances the study of political theory. She teaches courses in the history of political thought and contemporary democratic theory with a focus on questions of memory, identity, and power.

Balfour is finishing a book manuscript entitled “Democracy’s Reconstruction: W. E. B. Du Bois in the 21 st Century” and is working on another book project on reparations for slavery and Jim Crow. Recent articles and chapters include: “ “Act and Fact: Slavery Reparations as a Democratic Politics of Reconciliation,” in The Politics of Reconciliation in Multicultural Societies, edited by Will Kymlicka and Bashir Bashir (Oxford University Press, 2008); “Reparations After Identity Politics,” Political Theory (December 2005); "Representative Women: Slavery, Citizenship, and Feminist Theory in Du Bois 'Damnation of Women,'" Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy (Summer 2005); "Vexed Genealogy: Octavia Butler and Political Memories of Slavery." in Democracy’s Literature: Politics and Fiction in America, edited by Patrick Deneen and Joseph Romance (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005); and "Unreconstructed Democracy: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Case for Reparations," American Political Science Review 97 (February 2003). Balfour’s first book, The Evidence of Things Not Said: James Baldwin and the Promise of American Democracy, was published by Cornell University Press in 2001.

She has held post-doctoral fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University and the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at Harvard Divinity School and dissertation fellowships from the University Center for Human Values and the Society of Fellows

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Colin Bird, Associate Professor
(Ph.D., Columbia University, 1997)

Research interests include: theories of social and distributive justice; contemporary liberal thought; global political theory; theories of democracy and self-government; contemporary legal philosophy; the history and critique of the concept of respect; contemporary perfectionism. He currently teaches courses on ancient and modern political thought, liberalism and its critics, cosmopolitan justice, and on recent jurisprudence.


A native of Scotland, Bird was an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge. After receiving his BA in History from Cambridge University, he moved to New York, where he studied for a Ph.D. in Political Theory at Columbia University. His southwesterly progress continued with his arrival at the University of Virginia in 1999. During the 2000-01 academic year, Bird was a codirector of the Forum for Contemporary Thought at UVA. He received a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellowship at the Center for Human Values at Princeton University for 2001-02.

He is the author of The Myth of Liberal Individualism (Cambridge, 1999), which challenges a number of received assumptions about the nature of liberal political thought and offers a provocative critique of libertarianism. Bird has also written An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Cambridge, 2006), which covers an unusually broad range of topics for an introductory text, including the just distribution of wealth, both within countries and globally; the nature and justification of authority; the meaning and significance of freedom; arguments for and against democracy; the problem of war; and the grounds for toleration in public life. It also offers an accessible, nontechnical discussion of perfectionism, utilitarianism, theories of the social contract, and of recently fashionable forms of critical theory.

Bird is currently at work on a third book, tentatively entitled Communities of Respect: Status, Identity and Social Recognition. Major articles include „Mutual Respect and Neutral Justification‰ (Ethics, 1996), „The Possibility of Self-Government‰ (The American Political Science Review, 2000), "Status, Identity & Respect," (Political Theory, 2004) and "Harm versus Sovereignty: a reply to Ripstein" (Philosophy and Public Affairs, 2006). He has also published book reviews in Ethics, Mind, The Journal of Politics, and The Hedgehog Review. Bird‚s current research interests include: the rehabilitation of Austinian ordinary language philosophy for political theory; the nature of disrespect; the question of how far agents‚ self-respect depends on the respectful attitudes of others; the nature of fraternity and the question of whether it is necessarily an egalitarian value; the interpretation of our concepts of the political „left‰ and „right‰; and the assessment of recent theories of global justice. Bird is also a sub-editor of the forthcoming SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Theory, edited by Mark Bevir.

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George Klosko, Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professor
(Ph.D., Columbia, 1977)

His research interests include contemporary political theory and the history of political thought. He teaches courses in both areas: in the history of political thought focusing on the liberal tradition and Greek political theory, especially Plato; in contemporary, in specific aspects of liberal theory, including problems of political obligation and the theory of John Rawls and Rawls's critics.

His books include: The Development of Plato's Political Theory (Methuen, 1986); The Principle of Fairness and Political Obligation (Rowman and Littlefield, 1992); Democratic Procedures and Liberal Consensus (Oxford University Press, 2000; paperback edition, 2004); Jacobinism and Utopianism: The Political Theory of Fundamental Moral Reform (Notre Dame University Press, 2003); Political Obligations (Oxford University Press, 2005); and  a Second Edition of The Development of Plato's Political Theory (2006) He has also written a two-volume introduction to the history of political theory: History of Political Theory: An Introduction, Volume I: Ancient and Medieval Political Theory; Volume II: Modern Political Theory (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993, 1995); and co-edited The Struggle for Women's Rights, with Margaret G. Klosko (Prentice Hall, 1999); Perfectionism and Neutrality: Essays in Liberal Theory, with Steven Wall (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003); and Aristotle (forthcoming).

A new edition of The Principle of Fairness and Political Obligations was recently published, with a new Introduction.  A Chinese translation is forthcoming from Jangsu People's Publishing House. Political Obligations was recently awarded the David and Elaine Spitz Prize by the International Conference for the Study of Political Thought, for the best book in liberal or democratic theory published in 2005.

His main project at the current time is editing the Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy. Recent articles include: "Knowledge and Law in Plato's Laws," Political Studies (forthcoming); "Method and Politics in Plato's Political Theory," Polis 23(2006); "Multiple Principles of Political Obligation," Political Theory, 32 (2004); "Duties to Assist Others and Political Obligations," Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, 3 (2004); "Samaritanism and Political Obligation: A Response to Christopher Wellman's 'Liberal Theory of Political Obligation,'"Ethics, 113 ( 2003); and "Political Obligation and Military Service in Three Countries, with Michael  Keren and Stacy  Nyikos, Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, 2 (2003). 

His article, "Political Obligation and the Natural Duties of Justice," was recently published in Chinese translation in the journal World Philosophy 2 (2003). His articles, "Presumptive Benefit, Fairness and Political Obligation," "The Principle of Fairness and Political Obligation," and "Samaritanism and Political Obligation: A Response to Christopher Wellman's 'Liberal Theory of Political Obligation,'" will be reprinted in Chinese translation, in Perspectives On Political Obligation in the Modern West, S. Mao, ed. and trans., which is forthcoming from the Jiangsu People's Publishing House.

Recent professional activities include appointment to the editorial advisory board of the International Encyclopedia of Political Science and the editorial board of Polis.  During the fall semester of 2005, he was a visiting faculty member in the Department of Political Science, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, where he will return in the fall of 2008. 

His recent work has emphasized the relevance of empirical social science for normative issues.  He is currently engaged in empirical studies of attitudes towards political obligations based on small focus groups, and in making a case for the relevance of such studies for normative political theory.  His current project involves focus groups on political obligation in different European countries, with different histories in regard to democratic politics.

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Melvin Rogers, Assistant Professor (Ph.D., Yale University, 2006)

Rogers’ research and teaching interests include classical and contemporary pragmatism, American and African American political thought, and democratic and republican theory. He teaches courses in the history of political thought, contemporary political theory, and pragmatism.

A native of New York, Rogers was an undergraduate at Amherst College. After receiving his BA in Political Science from Amherst, he studied at Cambridge where he received his M.Phil. in Political Thought and Intellectual History, and finally completed his Ph.D. in the department of Political Science at Yale University. He has held a pre-doctoral fellowship from the Ford Foundation, was an Exchange Scholar in the department of Religion at Princeton, and a Scholar-In-Residence for two years in the department of Political Science at Carleton College.

Rogers is currently at work on two book projects. The first is entitled: The Undiscovered Dewey: Religion, Morality and the Ethos of Democracy (under contract, Columbia University Press). It explores the epistemic complexities and normative resources of John Dewey's conception of inquiry and its function within his religious, moral and political philosophy. The second project is tentatively entitled: Democratic Excellence: A Contribution to American Political Thought in Black and White. The project explores the ways in which white and black intellectuals have sought to reconcile the relationship between excellence (broadly understood) and democracy within the tradition of American political thought. His recent and forthcoming articles include: "Rorty's Straussianism; Or, Irony Against Democracy," Contemporary Pragmatism (2004); "Action and Inquiry in John Dewey's Philosophy," Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society: A Quarterly Journal in American Philosophy (2007); “Republican Confusion and Liberal Clarification,” Philosophy and Social Criticism (Forthcoming, 2008).


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Jennifer Cyd Rubenstein, Assistant Professor (beginning September 2008)

(Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2005)

Her research interests include global justice, international ethics, humanitarianism, NGOs, democratic theory (particularly theories of representation and advocacy), theories of office, and the relationship between imagination and politics. She has taught courses such as “Political Representation,” “Imagination and Political Life,” “International Ethics and Humanitarian NGOs” and “Theories of Justice.”

She has received several awards and fellowships, including the United States Institute of Peace Jennings Randolph Program Peace Scholar Award, the Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Field Research Grant, and a dissertation write-up grant from the Aspen Institute Nonprofit Sector Research Fund.

Her publications include “Distribution and Emergency,” Journal of Political Philosophy (September 2007); “Accountability in an Unequal World,” Journal of Politics (August 2007); “The Distributive Commitments of International NGOs” in Humanitarianism Contested, eds., Michael Barnett and Thomas Weiss, forthcoming from Cornell University Press, and “Pluralism about Global Poverty” in Freedom from Poverty as a Human Right: Who Owes What to the Very Poor? Vol. 2, ed., Thomas Pogge (Oxford University Press/UNESCO, in progress).

She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation, entitled “Just Samaritans? The Politics and Ethics of Humanitarian Office.” In the manuscript, she asks what normative considerations should guide international non-governmental organizations such as Oxfam and CARE. She draws on both contemporary political theory and extensive field research to develop an account of “humanitarian office.” This account deploys the concept of office in novel ways to build on and critique the arguments of both aid organizations and theorists. She is in the early stages of two other large-scale projects, one about representation, advocacy, and accountability in the international sphere under conditions of severe inequality and one about imagination and cosmopolitanism.

She is currently the Cotsen-Link Postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and lecturer in Politics at Princeton University (2005-8).

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Stephen K. White, James Hart Professor
(Ph.D., City University of New York, 1980)

A former the editor of the journal, Political Theory, his research interests include critical social and political theory, philosophy of social science, and continental political thought. He teaches courses in the history of political thought, contemporary political theory, and the philosophy of social science.

Research grants include Fulbright, American Council of Learned Societies, National Endowment for the Humanities, Alexander Von Humboldt, and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. He has been a visiting scholar or professor at University of Konstanz , Goethe University, Frankfurt, and Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

Books include The Recent Work of Jurgen Habermas (Cambridge University Press, 1988; Portuguese translation by Icone, 1996) and Political Theory and Postmodernism (Cambridge University Press, 1991; Japanese translation by Showado, 1996; Chinese translation by Liaoning, 2004); Edmund Burke: Modernity, Politics and Aesthetics ( Sage Publications, 1994; second edition in 2002 from Roman and Littlefield). Edited volumes include, Lifeworld and Politics: Between Modernity and Postmodernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 1989) and Cambridge Companion to Habermas (Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Currently, he is finishing a book on “The Ethos of A Late-Modern Citizen.” Other recent books include, Sustaining Affirmation: The Strengths of Weak Ontology in Political Theory (Princeton University Press, 2000). It was the subject of conference in 2004, from which a special issue of the Journal, The Hedgehog Review appeared in 2005, titled "Committment in a Post-Foundationalist World: Exploring the Possibilities of 'Weak Ontologies,' " (Summer 2005).An Edited Volume (With J. Donald Moon), What is Political Theory? appeared with Sage Publications in 2004.

Recent essays include: “ A Late-Modern Ethos and the Democratic Predicament,” in Becoming Plural (forthcoming); “Reason and the Ethos of a Late-Modern Citizen,” in Contemporary Debates in Political Philosophy. "Uncertain Constellations: Dignity, Equality, Respect and ......?" in The New Pluralism (Forthcoming); and "After Critique: Subjectivity in Contemporary Political Theory", European Journal of Political Theory (2004); "The Very Idea of A Critical Social Science", in Cambridge Companion To Critical Theory ( Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004), “Pay Attention! Achtung! Electronic Media and the Ethos of Dialogue in Late Modern Democracy,” Ethical Perspectives (Sept. 2000); “Taking Ontology Seriously in Political Science and Political Theory,” PS (Dec. 2000); “Three Conceptions of the Political: The Real World of Late Modern Democracy,” in A. Botwinick and W. Connolly, eds., Democracy and Vision (Princeton University Press, 2001);“Skeptics at the Celebration: Civil Society and the Early Frankfurt School,” in N. Rosenblum and R. Post, eds., Civil Society and Government (Princeton University Press, 2001).

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Related Faculty

James Ceaser, Harry Rood Byrd, Jr., Professor
(Ph.D., Harvard)


His books in this field are: Presidential Selection (Princeton, 1979), Liberal Democracy and Political Science (Johns Hopkins, 1992) and Reconstructing America (Yale, 1997). Recent articles include: "A Geneaology of Anti-Americanism" The Public Interest, (Summer 2003), "The Idol of History" (Social Philosophy and Policy, 2002), and "Natural Right and Natural History" in Jefferson's America, ed. Thomas Engemann (Notre Dame Press, 2000).

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Lynn Sanders, Associate Professor(Ph.D., University of Michigan


Associate Professor. Research interests include: race, democratic theory, and public opinion. Co-author of Divided by Color (Univ. of Chicago Press) and "Against Deliberation," Political Theory (1997). Her new book, Interracial Opinion in a Divided Society, is forthcoming from the Univ. of Chicago Press.

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Jim Savage, Professor
(Ph.D., California-Berkeley)


A student of Hanna Pitkin and Michael Rogin's at Berkeley, his research interests include American political thought, rhetoric, and language, and their application tovarious public policy issues; especially economic and fiscal
policy, and science and technology policy.

Recipient of various fellowships and honors, including the APSA's Harold D. Lasswell dissertation prize; Harvard
post-doctoral fellowshi in the Program on Constitutional Government; Council on Foreign Relations Hitachi International Affairs Fellow; Fulbright-European Union Affairs Research Fellow; and Dirksen Congressional Fellowship.

UNIVERSITIES, AND THE POLITICS OF THE ACADEMIC PORK BARREL (Cambridge University Press), and BALANCED BUDGETS AND AMERICAN POLITICS (Cornell University Press); as well as articles in various journals.

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Denise Walsh, Assistant Professor  (Ph.D., New School for Social Research, 2005)

Research interests in this field are critical theory, democratic theory, feminist theory.  Dissertation: “Just Debate: Culture and Gender Justice in the New South Africa.” Co-editor of a special issue for the Journal of Southern African Studies (Mar. 2006), which includes “Altering Politics, Contesting Gender,” and “The Liberal Moment: Women and Just Debate in South Africa, 1994-1996.”

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Lawrie Balfour

Colin Bird

George Klosko

Melvin Rogers

Jennifer Cyd Rubenstein

Stephen K. White

Related Faculty

Jim Ceaser
Lynn Sanders
Jim Savage
Denise Walsh
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