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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Political Theory

Kody Cooper. Political Theory / Public Law. Dissertation: Mortal Gods and Eternal Laws: Thomas Hobbes’s Natural Law Theory of Morality and Politics (A.P. Martinich, J. Budziszewski, Devin Stauffer, Robert Koons, John Hittinger). Thomas Hobbes insisted that he had set forth the “true and only moral philosophy” and that he was the founder of civil science. Yet, the character of Hobbes’s moral and political theory and its role in his civil doctrines has been the subject of much controversy. In my dissertation I critique conventional interpretations of Hobbes and defend an interpretation of Hobbes as a properly natural law theorist in his accounts of the foundations of moral philosophy and civil science, morality, commonwealth, and positive law. I reassess Hobbes’s critique of the Aristotelian-Thomistic natural law tradition—which Hobbes referred to as the “kingdom of darkness”—and argue that Hobbes’s novelty flows chiefly from his doctrine of the human good. In this light, I examine Hobbes’s fundamentally liberal claims about the natural freedom and equality of human beings and reconsider how Hobbes anticipates contemporary liberal thought and constitutionalism. A theme of the dissertation is that Hobbes has a nuanced place at the fulcrum between premodern and modern liberal thought. Status: Ph.D. expected May 2014. Publications: Hobbes Studies, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. Teaching Experience: Introduction to Political Thought, History of Western Civilization, Constitutional Debates, Constitutional Law, American Government, Political Parties, Issues and Interest Groups, Basic Political Institutions. Teaching Interests: Classical, medieval, modern, contemporary political philosophy, constitutional law, American political thought, American politics and institutions, religion and politics. Email:

Laura K. Field. Political Theory / Public Law. Visiting Assistant Professor, Georgetown University. Dissertation: Writing in Blood: Compassion, Character, and Popular Rhetoric in Rousseau and Nietzsche (Thomas Pangle, Lorraine Pangle, Devin Stauffer, Gary Jacobsohn, Jonathan Marks). Employing an Aristotelian framework, I argue that Rousseau and Nietzsche each demonstrate the power of emotional rhetoric (pathos) and the rhetoric of character/the self (ethos). I seek to demonstrate the consistency between both thinkers’ theoretical bodies of work and their autobiographies, and work to bridge the two philosophers, by showing Nietzsche’s indebtedness to Rousseau in a new and provocative way. Major themes include political and cultural change, the political implications of personal character, intellectual authority in democracies, and the foundations of knowledge and human happiness. Status: PhD, December 2011. Publications: Journal of Politics, Review of Politics. Teaching Experience: Ancient Political Theory, Ancient Philosophy and Literature, Rousseau and Nietzsche, Environmental Thought, Introduction to Political Science, General Humanities. Email: lkfield[AT] Website:

Jeremy Fortier. Political Theory / Public Law. Visiting Scholar and Lecturer, Clemson University. Thesis: (Chair: Thomas Pangle.) Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the development of the modern state first-hand, and perceptively identified many of its major features. His analysis of modern politics was initially marked by a qualified sympathy, or at least thoughtful acquiescence. Nevertheless, in later writings Nietzsche became a virulent critic of the modern world, sketching out a radically anti-modern political counter-project. Nietzsche’s political thought is therefore relevant to both those who want to better understand the foundations and leading characteristics of modern politics, and to those who want to explore influential criticisms of it. At the same time, it presents a substantial interpretive dilemma, since it is not clear how these two poles of Nietzsche’s thought can be squared. Indeed, most readers have tended to approach them in isolation from one another, either focusing on the radical project of Nietzsche’s late writings, or looking to his “middle period” as a welcome-but-discrete alternative. In this dissertation I argue that these two poles of Nietzsche’s thought are more closely linked than most readers have realized. Drawing on the extensive autobiographical self-assessments that Nietzsche published during his last two productive years, I show that he shows that he helps readers to see how a critical dialogue between the more moderate and the more radical aspects of his thought can be established – and, moreover, that Nietzsche himself subtly engaged in just such a dialogue throughout his career. The result is a picture of Nietzsche’s thought that is more nuanced and self-conscious in both its criticism and its endorsement of modern politics than has been generally appreciated. Moreover, using Nietzsche’s autobiographical self-accounts to negotiate the tensions in his writings sheds light on the precise motivation lying behind his political ambitions, and thereby also helps to sketch out the lines of defense that are required against the sort of anti-modern politics that Nietzsche pioneered. Status: All PhD requirements completed (including oral examination); degree to be formally awarded at the end of the Fall 2014 semester. Publications: Journal of Politics; book proposal currently being reviewed by a top university press. Teaching Experience: “Introduction to Political Theory”; “Ideas and Ideologies in American Politics.” Email: jf101 [AT] utexas [DOT] edu.

Ariel Helfer. Theory / Methodology. Thesis: Political Ambition and Socratic Philosophy: Plato’s Presentation of Socrates and Alcibiades. (Thomas Pangle, Lorraine Pangle, Devin Stauffer, Arlene Saxonhouse, Peter Ahrensdorf). The dissertation is an exploration of the relationship between Socrates and Alcibiades as that relationship is presented in the work of Plato. Before Alcibiades became antiquity’s most infamous statesman and general, he was a youth of extraordinary ambition and a student of Socrates. Plato’s nuanced presentation of the Alcibiadean psychology under extended Socratic examination illuminates the phenomenon of intense political ambition, and thus allows us to consider the roots of our own concern for politics, both selfish and selfless: the concern for justice, the desire to benefit our friends, the love of honor, the appeal of political power, etc. In addition, the study of Plato’s presentation of this crucially important Socratic relationship forces us to consider why a philosopher would wish to befriend and educate a dangerously ambitious and capable youth such as Alcibiades. Status: Ph.D. expected Summer 2014. Articles in preparation: “Corrupting the Young: What Alcibiades Learned from Socrates,” (presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, April 11-14, 2013). “Measuring Learning in Informative Processes,” with Robert C. Luskin and Gaurav Sood, (presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Political Methodology, Princeton, NJ, July 28-30, 2011). Teaching experience: The Classical Quest for Justice (Fall 2013); Introduction to Mathematics for Political Scientists (graduate student workshop, 2010-2013). Teaching interests: Classical and modern political philosophy, Intellectual foundations of American government, Statistics for political scientists (introductory econometrics). Email:, Web Profile:

Aaron Herold. Political Theory / International Relations. Visiting Assistant Professor, College of the Holy Cross. Thesis: Liberal Theology in the Age of Equality: Tocqueville and the Enlightenment on Faith, Freedom, and the Human Soul (Thomas Pangle, Russell Muirhead, J. Judd Owen, Lorraine Pangle, Devin Stauffer, Jeffrey Tulis). My dissertation explores the way in which the return of religion and religious issues to our political life has re-opened fundamental questions about the meaning and value of toleration and about the separation of church and state that were long thought settled. In the last decade, these questions have shown themselves to be of crucial importance not only for our American debates over the meaning of the First Amendment, but also for the establishment of new democracies around the world. I argue that, in both these contexts, the return of religion as a politically influential force has arisen from a widespread dissatisfaction with liberalism’s perceived inability to facilitate the achievement of humanity’s highest spiritual aims, and especially to comprehend the place of duty or obligation in human life. To show this, I turn first to social scientific research on religion, as well as to an examination of contemporary political theorists on both the left and the right. Then, to begin to uncover the origins of and potential solutions to our present dissatisfaction, I examine the ways in which Locke and Spinoza sought to lay the basis for both civic dedication and a rich cultural and intellectual life in part through the weakening or liberalization of religious belief. Finally, I turn to Tocqueville’s friendly critique of the Enlightenment and elucidate his solution for preserving, in times of liberalism and equality, the great human devotions which he saw as inextricably linked to religion. I conclude that that by describing a civil religion capacious enough to permit tolerance but substantive enough to encourage real devotion, Tocqueville gives us a kind of moderate politics seldom found in today’s debates. Status: Ph.D. 2010. Publications: American Political Science Review (forthcoming); Political Research Quarterly (June 2014); The Review of Politics (Spring 2014). Teaching Experience: Principles of American Politics; Constitutional Law I and II (Constitutional Structures of Power and Civil Liberties); Political Questions (Introduction to Political Thought); Liberal Democracy and Its Critics (Modern Political Thought); Classical Political Thought; Politics and Religion of Rome, Christianity, and Islam. Teaching Interests: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Political Thought; Foundations of American Constitutionalism; Religion and Politics; International Politics; Problems of Justice in International Relations. Email: Web Profile: CV:

Carly Herold. Political Theory / Public Law. Charles Carroll Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, College of the Holy Cross. Thesis: Virtue and Irrationality in Republican Politics: Cicero's Critique of Popular Philosophy (Lorraine Pangle, Thomas Pangle, Devin Stauffer, Jeffrey Tulis, Pierre Manent). My current research examines how the tradition of Socratic political philosophy might evaluate and respond to modern social scientists who criticize the inherent irrationality of republican self-government. For a fresh lens through which to evaluate this critique, I turn to Cicero, who was deeply involved in the practical politics of his regime and who was perhaps the first student of Socratic political philosophy to observe first-hand the influence of popular philosophy and science on politics. Through a reading of Cicero’s On Ends, On the Nature of the Gods, and On Duties, I show that while Cicero agrees that we tend to over-estimate our rational capabilities, he nevertheless defends republicanism on the basis of a rich political psychology which shows that attempts to reduce politics to rational rules obscure, rather than clarify, the way our judgments and concerns manifest themselves in political activity. I argue that Cicero’s defense of republicanism and his critique of the philosophical schools of his day are part of a project to show the potentially negative effects that the popularization of intellectualism can have both on healthy politics and on political philosophy. Status: All PhD requirements completed (including oral examination); degree to be formally awarded at the end of the Fall 2014 semester. Publications: Articles in Preparation: “The Weakness of Reason in Politics: A Ciceronian Response to Prospect Theory and Libertarian Paternalism,” examining Cicero’s potential response to contemporary calls for modern government to adopt a more paternalistic approach to policy-making. “The Gentleman and The Tyrant: Cicero’s Treatment of the Virtue of Decorum as a Response to Tyrannical Ambition,” evaluating Cicero’s emphasis on decorum as the key political virtue that mitigates the danger of tyrannical ambition in republican regimes. Teaching Experience: Science, Philosophy, and Politics in Classical Political Thought (Fall 2014, College of the Holy Cross). “Rights and Duties” (Spring 2015, College of the Holy Cross). “Politics and Religion of Rome, Christianity, and Islam (interdisciplinary freshman seminar, Spring 2013, Rhodes College). Research and Teaching Interests: Classical Greek and Roman and early modern political philosophy; the impact of public intellectualism and science on politics; modern paternalism and republicanism; comparative constitutional law; constitutional theory; how democracies deal with non-democratic or anti-democratic elements within a polity. Email: Website:

Steven Pittz. Political Theory / International Relations. Thesis: Free Spiritedness and Liberal Political Order (Martinich, Higgins, Hooker, Tulis, Dunn). The dissertation explores and develops the notion of a “free spirit”, borrowing from but also extending past Nietzsche’s formulation of one. It establishes a connection between the characteristics that constitute a “free spirit” and those that constitute the liberal citizen. One of the strongest critiques of liberalism comes from republican and communitarian thinkers who claim that the liberal citizen, or liberal self, is an “atomized”, isolated, and spiritually empty person. These critics do not confront liberalism--and the individual liberty that goes with it--at the macro level, but rather at the micro level of the liberal self. Put simply, these thinkers drastically devalue the great success of the liberal political order by pointing to the alleged spiritual malaise overtaking citizens in our modern, liberal society. My dissertation challenges this assumption about the spiritual state of the liberal citizen and demonstrates that, in fact, the spiritual freedom guaranteed through a liberal political order provides opportunities for achieving spiritual fullness that communitarian, and some republican, political thinkers ignore or even condemn. The “free spirit” I develop and present exemplifies a pursuit of spiritual fullness that is fitting for a liberal citizen. Status: Visiting Lecturer, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, expected Ph.D. defense April 2014. Publications: The Journal of Politics (2011); Global Topics; (2005); History of Political Thought (under review). Courses Taught: Intro to IR, IR theory, and International Political Economy. Can Teach: History of Political thought, Modern political thought, Continental political theory, U.S. foreign policy. Email:

Laura Rabinowitz. Political Theory / Public Law. Thesis: Harmony of City and Soul: Plato and the Classical Virtue of Moderation (Lorraine Pangle, Devin Stauffer, Thomas Pangle, Gary Jacobsohn, Sharon Krause [Brown University]). My current research is motivated by a desire to understand the challenges growing levels of immoderation pose to our polity. We find ourselves facing varied crises of immoderation, from political polarization at home to ideological and religious intransigence abroad. I argue that modern political theory—successful as it has been in curbing certain excesses—is unable to account fully for the struggles with immoderation we now face because it fails to treat moderation as a holistic virtue. To remedy this theoretical deficit, recovering the unity of a virtue that has become fragmented and neglected in our age, I turn to the treatment of moderation found in Plato’s dialogues. It was Plato who canonized moderation’s place in the tetrad of cardinal virtues, providing an account unprecedented in his time and unsurpassed in ours. This account is one that has received insufficient and often misleading attention in political theory scholarship. Through a critical analysis of the Charmides and Republic, I illuminate Plato’s comprehensive understanding of moderation with a view to finding the guidance we need to re-evaluate and recover moderation for ourselves. Status: Ph.D. expected Spring 2014. Teaching Experience: Might and Right Among Nations. Research and Teaching Interests: Introduction to Political Theory, Classical and Modern Political Thought, Political Philosophy and Literature, American Legal Philosophy, Comparative Constitutionalism, American Political Thought. Articles in Preparation: “Finding Moderation in Plato’s Republic: The Lost Virtue of Sophrosyne;” “A Different Point of Departure: James Wilson on Human Sociability.” Email:

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