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Political Theory Institute


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Mailing Address

Political Theory Colloquium Lecture Series

The Washington, D.C., Political Theory Colloquium, founded by Alan Levine in 1995, brings noted speakers to campus each semester. Its central purpose is to provide a focal point for the community and provide a real sense of intellectual excitement. We hope to engage the community and classrooms in a common conversation.

Upcoming Fall 2014 Lectures

December 5, 2014: "Wealth, Birth, and Beauty in the Writings of John Adams"

Dr. Luke Mayville, American University
5:30 PM, MGC 203-205

Luke Mayville is the 2014-2015 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Political Theory Institute at American University. He holds a Phd from Yale University and a BA suma cum laude from the University of Oregon. His dissertation, entitled "The Oligarchic Mind: Wealth and Power in the Political Thought of John Adams," draws upon John Adams's treatises, essays, and letters to uncover an unfamiliar theory of the political power of wealth. His article, "Fear of the Few: John Adams and the Power Elite," is forthcoming in Polity. He will teach "American Political Thought in Fall 2014 and a seminar entitled "Democracy and Inequality" in Spring 2015.


Prior Fall 2014 Lectures

September 30, 2014: "Philosophy and Secrecy: On The Forgotten Practice of Esoteric Writing"

Dr. Arthur Melzer, Michigan State University
5:30 PM, Hughes Formal Lounge

For the first two millennia of Western intellectual history, philosophers routinely wrote "esoterically," communicating their most unorthodox thoughts only between the lines. But over the last two centuries this practice gradually declined and then was altogether forgotten. Today the whole idea is indignantly denied. This lecture seeks to recover the lost history of esoteric writing, demonstrating its reality and explaining its purpose.

Arthur Melzer is Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University. He is also the co-founder and co-director of the Symposium on Science, Reason, and Modern Democracy, an independent research center housed at Michigan State University. Professor. Melzer received his BA from Cornell University and his PhD from Harvard University. He has been awarded research fellowships by the Mellon Foundation, the Institute for Educational Affairs, the Earhart Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is a winner of the MSU Social Science Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award. His writings include: The Natural Goodness of Man: On the System of Rousseau's Thought (University of Chicago Press, 1990), and most recently Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing (University of Chicago Press, 2014).

November 6, 2014: "Human Ends and the End of Humanity"

Dr. Charles Rubin, Duquesne University
5:30 PM, MGC 203-205

In The Green Crusade: Rethinking the roots of Environmentalism, Dr. Rubin analyzed environmentalism with a critical eye which exposed the totalitarian political assumptions at work in the reasoning of mainstream thinkers like Barry Commoner and Paul Ehrlich. It also critiqued the more radical Deep Ecologists, some of whom argue that the only way to save the Earth is for human beings to "devolve" into a more animal-like state of existence. Contrasting with their hope for human extinction based on a rejection of human reason is the technical hyper-rationality of Carnegie-Mellon University roboticist Hans Moravec, who thinks humanity should seek to make itself obsolete by uploading its minds into robots of one form or another. The insight that human extinction was a point where two very different kinds of radicalism met led to his recent work, Eclipse of Man: Human Extinction and the Meaning of Progress, which forms the basis for his lecture.

Charles Rubin has taught in the Political Science Department and the Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy at Duquesne University since 1987. He is also the current Garwood Visiting Professor and Visiting Fellow, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University and previously held a visiting appointment at Kenyon College. Rubin earned his BA in Political Science and Philosophy from Case-Western Reserve University and his PhD in Political Philosophy from Boston College. He is the editor of Conservation Reconsidered: Nature, Virtue and American Liberal Democracy (2000) and The Quest for Justice (with Leslie Rbuin, 3rd edition, 1992). He is the author of over twenty-five articles, chapters, and essays, as well as two books: The Green Crusade: Rethinking the Roots of Environmentalism (1998) and Eclipse of Man: Human Extinction and the Meaning of Progress (2014).

November 19, 2014: "Why Not Capitalism?"

Dr. Jason Brennan, Georgetown University
5:30 PM, Kay Spiritual Life Center Lounge

Jason Brennan is an Assistant Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at Georgetown University and previously an Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Research at Brown University. He earned his BA in Philosophy from the University of New Hampshire and his PhD from the University of Arizona. His research focuses on democratic theory, the ethics of voting, competence and power, freedom, and the moral foundations of commercial society. He is the author of A Brief History of Liberty (2010, with David Schmidz), The Ethics of Voting (2011), Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know (2012), Compulsory Voting: For and Against (2014, with Lisa Hill), and Why Not Capitalism? (2014).

Speakers for Fall 2014

See the list of speakers from the Fall 2014 academic semester

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Speakers for 2013-2014

See the list of speakers from the 2013-2014 academic year

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Speakers for 2012-2013

See the list of speakers from the 2012-2013 academic year 

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Speakers for 2011-2012

See the list of speakers from the 2011-2012 academic year

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Speakers 2011 and Prior

Please see Political Theory Colloquium Lecture Series from 2011 and prior

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