James Kloppenberg (Harvard University): "Why Political Theory Needs History: Dismantling the Liberal-Republican Distinction to Understand the Promise of American Democracy"

Feb 23, 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
Corwin Hall, Room 127
Open to Princeton University ID Holders


Event Description

Political Philosophy Colloquium

Abstract: Although political scientists continue to distinguish a so-called Anglo-American liberal tradition from a so-called republican tradition, the distinction makes no sense in the context of American intellectual history. Kloppenberg will first discuss misunderstood figures such as John Adams, James Madison, and James Wilson to show the centrality of democracy for the most important political thinkers of the founding period, then fast forward to John Rawls, often considered the archetypal liberal, to show that after writing A Theory of Justice and Political Liberalism, Rawls moved, in his understudied late work, in the direction of social democracy.

James T. Kloppenberg is a Charles Warren Professor of American History at Harvard University. Kloppenberg has written four books, co-edited two others, and published dozens of articles on politics and ideas in scholarly journals and popular periodicals, including the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Newsweek, Le Monde, Democracy, and Commonweal. 

  • Department of Politics
  • University Center for Human Values