Stephen Macedo: Political Theory Workshop – March 1, 2018

On March 1, Professor Stephen Macedo gave a talk entitled: “Regulating Offensive Expression: The Roles of Self-Censorship, Social Norms, and Civility.” Professor Macedo is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University.  He is the author of Diversity and Distrust: Civic Education in a Multicultural Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2003), and Liberal Virtues: Citizen, Virtue, and Community in Liberal Constitutionalism (Oxford University Press, 1990).

Political Theory Graduate Conference February 8-9, 2018

The 2018 Graduate Conference in Political Theory took place on February 8-9.  This year’s graduate student presenters were:

  • Yuna Blajer de la Garza (University of Chicago): “The Meek and Mighty: Two Models of Domination”
  • Paul M.B. Gutirrez (Brown University): “Incorporating Land: Reassessing the Legal Origins of the Corporation in America”
  • Ferris Lupino (Brown University): “American Stasiology: Racial Conflict Between the Rule of Law and Civil War”
  • Pavlos Papadopoulos (University of Dallas): “Plato’s Model Educational Institution”
  • Eraldo Santos (Pantheon-Sorbonne University): “The Invention of a ‘Great Tradition’: A Plea for a Conceptual History of Civil Disobedience”
  • Naomi Scheinerman (Yale University): “Democratic Moral Decision-Making: Automated Vehicles and the Trolley Problem”

On Friday afternoon, John McCormick gave a keynote address entitled “Leo Strauss’s Machiavelli and the Querelle between the Few and the Many.”  Professor McCormick is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.  He is the author of Weimar Thought: A Contested Legacy (Princeton University Press, 2013), Machiavellian Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and Weber, Habermas and Transformations of the European State (Cambridge University Press, 2006).  

In addition to AVI, the conference was sponsored by the Duke Graduate School, the Department of Political Science, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Center for International and Global Studies, and the Franklin Humanities Institute.

Click on the schedule below for an overview of the conference.

Living Learning Community Accepting New Members

We are proud to sponsor the  Visions of Freedom Living Learning Community,  a group of Duke students with a passion for politics, philosophy, and economics who have decided to create a “space for not-too-serious intellectual conversations outside of the classroom and traditional extracurricular settings.”  Students live in Edens 1A.  In addition to a house course, the LLC organizes numerous field trips and social events. The community is currently recruiting up to 28 new members.  Applications are due on February 12, 2018 (deadline extended to February 14, 2018).   Reach out to David Wohlever Sanchez at with any questions or to express your interest!


The Ridiculous and the Ridiculed: Humor and Politics Workshop – February 6, 2018

The Humor & Politics Working Group held its first meeting of the spring semester on February 16. The workshop’s theme was “The Ridiculous and the Ridiculed.” Participants watched selections from South Park, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, and Tomi Lahren, and completed a few short readings from Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft in advance of the meeting. The conversation explored the use of ridicule by both liberals and conservatives, and considered whether ridicule has dangerous political consequences.

The Humor and Politics Workshop explores the sarcastic and the sophomoric, the witty and the ridiculous, as well as the irreverent and morbid. Anybody is welcome to join, including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and friends. Check back for information about future meetings.


The Future of Political Theory

Five of the essays presented at last year’s Graduate Conference in Political Theory have been published online by the Franklin Humanities Institute as part of their Humanities Futures initiative.   All five essays discuss “The Future of Political Theory.”

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Nancy Rosenblum: Political Theory Workshop – November 30, 2017

On November 20 at 4:00 in Gross Hall 230E, Nancy Rosenblum spoke about her latest book, Good Neighbors: the Democracy of Everyday Life in America (Princeton, 2016). Nancy Rosenblum is the Harvard University Senator Joseph Clark Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government emerita. She is the author of numerous books, including On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship (Princeton, 2008), and Membership and Morals: The Personal Uses of Pluralism in America (Princeton, 1998).


Charles Mills: Political Theory Workshop – November 16, 2017

Charles Mills presented a paper entitled,  “Racial Justice,” on November 16 at 4:00 in Gross Hall 330. Charles Mills is Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. He is the author of the seminal book, The Racial Contract (Cornell University Press, 1997). Most recently, he has published Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Christopher Lebron: Political Theory Workshop – November 9, 2017

Christopher Lebron presented a paper titled: “Without the Loving Strains of Commitment.” Christopher Lebron is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of The Color of our Shame: Race and Justice in our Time (Oxford University Press, 2013) and The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea (Oxford University Press, 2017). Professor Lebron’s talk will be in Gross Hall 330 at 4:00.

Kay Hymowitz: The New Brooklyn – October 12, 2017

Kay Hymowitz spoke to undergraduates about her most recent book, The New Brooklyn: What It Takes to Bring a City Back (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). Hymowitz is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the author of numerous books, including Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys (Basic Books, 2011) and Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age (Ivan Dee, 2007).

John Zumbrunnen: Constitution Day Lecture – September 14, 2017

John Zumbrunnen delivered our 2017 Constitution Day Lecture: ‘If You Can Keep It:’ Benjamin Franklin and Constitutional Legitimacy.”