Skip to Content

Department of Political Science

Home > Graduate Program > Political Theory > Social and Political Thought Workshop Series

Social and Political Thought Workshop Series

In addition to what's offered within our department, there is an active theory community across campus that brings together scholars from a range of disciplines.

The Social and Political Thought Workshop is a series of bi-weekly lunchtime workshops that are held over the entire academic year. Each workshop centers around a work in progress by an invited guest. The paper or chapter is circulated 2 weeks prior to the session. Attendees have read the paper and a guest commentator opens the discussion.

Guest speakers have come from such fields as philosophy, political science, law, economics, sociology, and divinity studies. Past topics have included global justice, human rights, responsibility, identity politics, religion and public reason, democratic theory, privacy, due process, domestic violence, legal positivism, and genetic engineering. All members and friends of the Vanderbilt community are invited to attend. To be added to the distribution list contact Brooke Ackerly. For schedule information see the 2015-2016 SPT schedule below.

The Social and Political Workshop Series has been directed and funded since 2009 by W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy Marilyn Friedman and W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law Larry May.  They generously continue to fund the Workshop. In 2015 Brooke Ackerly was asked to take on the role of SPT Workshop Director. SPT has an interdisciplinary Faculty Steering Committee which co-directs the workshop. For 2015-2016 the Steering Committee is Vanessa Beasley (Communication Studies and Dean of the Commons), Gary Jaeger (Philosophy and Director of the Writing Studio), Emily Nacol (Political Science), Chris Slobogin (Law), and Karen Ng (Philosophy). Please contact any of us to recommend guests.

2015-2016 schedule

Most talks will be held at the Commons Center conference room, 363 (except where noted), on Fridays, 12-1:30 p.m. (except where noted.) More talks will be added throughout the semester.

September 18, 1:30-3, Chad Flanders, St. Louis University, Law School,
Title: Voter Ignorance and Deliberative Democracy
Host: Gary Jaeger (Philosophy and Writing Studio)
Discussant: Amy McKiernan (Philosophy)
* Note part of “Day of Democracy” co-sponsored with Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (lunch talk with Melinda Ritchie “Having it Both Ways: Cross-Pressured Senators and the Bureaucracy,” 12-1:30, Flanders SPT 1:30-3, Robert Talisse “A Pragmatist Defense of Ideal Theory,” (Philosophy) Colloquium 3:15 p.m., at Furman 109)

October 2, Jenell Johnson, University of Wisconsin
Title: 'A Man’s Mouth Is His Castle': The Midcentury Fluoridation Controversy and the Visceral Public
Host: Vanessa Beasley
Discussant: Isaac West (Communication Studies)

October 9, organizational meeting for SPT-Writing Studio co-sponsored Graduate Student Writing Group

October 30, Ellen Armor (Divinity)
Title: Signs and Wonders: The Sequel
Host: Brooke Ackerly
Discussant: Proposed Claire King (Communications)

November 6, Jack “Chip” Turner, University of Washington, Department of Political Science
Title: Audre Lorde: The Politics of Self-Actualization
Host: Emily Nacol
Discussant: Sandy Skene (Philosophy)

November 20, Terence Cuneo, University of Vermont, Philosophy Department
Title: On the Trustworthiness of the Moral Practice: Some Reidian Reflections
Host: Gary Jaeger
Discussant: Glenn "Boomer" Trujillo (Philosophy)

2014-2015 schedule

  • January 16 Roxanne Euben (Political Science, Wellesley College) “Islamism, Humiliation, and the Mobilization of Masculinity”; Commentator: James Booth (Political Science & Phil., Vanderbilt).
  • February 6 Christopher Kutz (Law and Philosophy, UC Berkeley) “Surveillance and the Right to Crime”
  • February 13 Elizabeth Edenberg (Philosophy, Vanderbilt) “Political Liberalism and its Feminist Potential”
  • March 27 Adam Burgos (Philosophy, Vanderbilt) Topic: Ideal Theory and Political Realism”
  • April 10 Susan Brison (Philosophy, Dartmouth College)

2013-2014 schedule

  • January 17 Brooke Ackerly (Political Sci. & Philosophy, Vanderbilt) “Getting Global Responsibility on the “Rights” Track”; Commentator – Andrea Pitts (Philosophy, Vanderbilt).
  • January 31 Chris Slobogin (Law, Vanderbilt) “Panvasive Surveillance, Political Process Theory, and the Nondelegation Doctrine”; Commentator – Eric Ritter (Philosophy, Vanderbilt).
  • February 7 Susan Brison (Philosophy, Dartmouth); Commentator – Vanessa Beasley (Communications, Vanderbilt)
  • February 21 Andrew Forcehimes (Philosophy, Vanderbilt) “Reasons Fundamentalism and the Appropriation Problem”; Commentator – Luke Semrau (Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • March 14 Tommie Shelby (African/African Amer. Stud. & Philosophy, Harvard) “Punishment, Condemnation, and Social Injustice”; Commentator - Geoffrey Adelsberg (Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • April 4 Claire Finkelstein (Law and Philosophy, U. of Pennsylvania) Topic: National Security; Commentator – Shannon Fyfe (Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • April 11 David Dyzenhaus (Law and Philosophy, U. of Toronto) “Wicked Law in Legal Theory [iniusta lex non est lex]”; Commentator – Paul Morrow (Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • April 25 Howard McGary (Philosophy, Rutgers) Topic: Public Education and Equality of Opportunity; Commentator – Gary Jaeger (Writer’s Studio & Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • August 23 Japa Pallikkathayil (Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh) "Exploitation"; Commentator – Paul Morrow (Philosophy, Vanderbilt University)
  • September 6 Charles Mills (Philosophy, Northwestern University) "Rawls and Race"; Commentator – Brooke Ackerly (Political Science & Philosophy, Vanderbilt University)
  • September 13 Larry May (Philosophy/Law/Political Science, Vanderbilt University) "Innocence and Complicity"; Commentator – James Booth (Political Science & Philosophy, Vanderbilt University)
  • September 20John Weymark (Economics, Vanderbilt University) "Must One be an Ogre to Rationally Prefer Aiding the Nearby to the Distant Needy?"; Commentator – Robert Talisse (Philosophy & Political Science, Vanderbilt University)
  • October 4 Ken Binmore (Economics, University College, London) "An Economic Defense of Epicurus on Life and Death"; Commentator – John Lachs (Philosophy, Vanderbilt University)
  • October 18 Sarah Song (Law and Political Science, University of California Berkeley) "Why Does the State have the Right to Control Immigration?"; Commentator – Emily McGill (Philosophy, Vanderbilt University)     
  • December 6 Helene Landemore (Political Science, Yale University) "Proudhon and Economic Democracy"; Commentator – Emily Nacol (Political Science, Vanderbilt University)

2010-2011 schedule

  • August 27 Roger Conner (Law, Vanderbilt) ''Attitudes, Advocacy and Polarization: The New Iron Triangle of Amer. Politics''; Commentator: Martin Rapisarda (Associate Dean A&S/Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • September 10 Kyla Ebels Duggan (Philosophy, Northwestern); Commentator: Stacy Clifford (Political Science, Vanderbilt)
  • September 24 Brooke Ackerly (Political Science, Vanderbilt) ''Patterns of Injustice''; Commentator: Gary Jaeger (Writing Studio/Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • October 8 'Steve Ross (Philosophy, CUNY) ''Criticizing Cohen's Criticisms of Rawls''; Commentator: Elizabeth Edenberg (Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • October 15 James Booth (Political Science, Vanderbilt) "From This Far Place: On Historic Injustice"; Commentator: Larry May (Philosophy/Law, Vanderbilt)
  • November 12 L. Wayne Sumner (Philosophy, Toronto) "Death by Request"; Commentator: Ellen Clayton (Pediatrics/Law, Vanderbilt)
  • December 3 Melissa Yates (Philosophy, St. John's, NY); Commentator: Steve Hetcher (Law, Vanderbilt)
  • January 14 Scott Aikin (Philosophy, Vanderbilt) "Poe's Law in Religious and Political Discourse"; Commentator: Vanessa Beasley (Communication Studies, Vanderbilt)
  • January 28 Melissa Snarr (Divinity, Vanderbilt); Commentator: Marilyn Friedman (Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • February 11 Emily Nacol (Political Science, Vanderbilt) "David Hume's Epistemology in his Politics and Economics"; Commentator: Jeffrey Tlumak (Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • February 25 John Maynor (Philosophy, Middle Tennessee State) "Republicanism and Globalization: Fighting Back Against Domination"; Commentator: Robert Talisse (Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • March 18 Anna Stilz (Politics, Princeton) "Why Do States Claim Rights to Particular Territories?"; Commentator: Matt Witt (Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • April 1 Sharon Street (Philosophy, NYU) "The Nature of Constructivism in Ethics"; Commentator: John Weymark (Economics, Vanderbilt)
  • April 15 Sally Haslanger (Philosophy, MIT); Commentator: Lisa Guenther (Philosophy, Vanderbilt)
  • April 22 James Sterba (Philosophy, Notre Dame) "From Rationality to Equality: A Developing Argument"; Commentator: Paul Morrow (Philosophy, Vanderbilt)

Programs and Centers:



Upcoming Events