Several faculty in the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State are working in an area in which traditional debates over justice, freedom, and political obligation are increasingly joined in contemporary philosophy by concerns with inequality, power, identity, and the rationalization of institutions and practices. In recent years individual faculty have published books and articles on themes in feminism, African American thought, democratic theory, the politics of knowledge, and the history of liberalism. Several dissertations have been written in these areas, and ongoing discussion groups have formed around themes concerning gender, race and ecology.
Upper level and graduate courses have in the past few years been given on such topics as "Philosophy and Race," "French Feminism," "Categories and Feminist Thought," "Identity, Recognition and Rights," "Democracy and Difference," "New Directions in Legal Theory," "Marx and Philosophy," "Discourse Ethics in the Public Sphere," "Social Being and Philosophy," "Classics of Liberal Philosophy," "Race, Racism and the Social Contract," "Feminist Theories of Power", "Marx,Capital", Contemporary Euorpean Political Philosophy", "Intersubjectivity from Hegel to Levinas."
Students may make Social and Political Thought their main area of interest or may define a more specific focus within this field. Students are encouraged to combine topics from this area with work in other areas of philosophy, including philosophy and medicine. Interdisciplinary work is also encouraged, particularly at the doctoral level. Students may pursue course work in other units or draw on relations faculty have developed with such units as Women's Studies, Urban Affairs, Sociology, History, English, German, French, American Studies, and Social Work.
Faculty working in this area include:
Steve Esquith: Democratic theory, justice, philosophy of law, international ethics.
Publications: Intimacy and Spectacle: Liberal Theory as Political Education (Cornell, 1994), Democratic Dialogue: Theories and Practices (Rodopi,1996). Articles on Hobbes, Emerson, Marx, Rawls, democratic citizenship, political education, rule of law, and service-learning.
Fred Gifford: Philosophy of biological science and medicine; history and philosophy of science; ethical issues in health care, life and environmental sciences, and biotechnology.
Publications: articles on ethical and methodological issues in medical research, ethical issues in biotechnology, scientific integrity, genetic determinism, and philosophy of biology.
Frederick Rauscher: Kant, Early Modern Philosophy, Post-Kantian Idealism, Ethical Theory.
Publications: articles on metaphysical issues in Kant's ethics and a book in progress on naturalism in Kant's ethical theory; translations of material in ethics, political philosophy, history, and other practical topics for Kant's "Notes and Fragments" volume (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).
Lisa Schwartzman: Feminist theory, critiques of liberalism, philosophy of law, feminist approaches to autonomy, rights, and equality.
Publications: Challenging Liberalism: Feminism as Political Critique (Penn State, 2006), Feminist Interventions in Ethics and Politics (co-edited, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005). Articles on feminist theories of equality, rights, hate speech, and the use of ideal theory withiin critical philosophy.
Kyle Whyte: Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University and affiliated faculty for Peace and Justice Studies, Environmental Science and Policy, the Center for Regional Food Systems, Animal Studies and American Indian Studies. He is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Dr. Whyte writes on environmental justice, the philosophy of technology and American Indian philosophy. His most recent research addresses moral and political issues concerning climate change impacts on Indigenous peoples. His articles have appeared in journals such as Climatic Change, Ecological Processes, Synthese, Human Ecology, Journal of Global Ethics, American Journal of Bioethics, Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics, Philosophy & Technology, Ethics, Policy & Environment, Environmental Justice, and Continental Philosophy Review. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Spencer Foundation. He is a member of the American Philosophical Association Committee on Public Philosophy, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, and volunteer for the annual Growing Our Food System conference in Lansing, Michigan.
Christian Lotz: Post-Kantian European Philosophy, Continental Aesthetics, Phenomenology, Critical Theory, Marxism, Contemporary European Political Philosophy, Analysis of Capitalism; selected publications related to social-political thougth: The Capitalist Schema: Time, Money, and the Culture of Abstraction (forthcoming, 2014), Marx's Machine Fragment (in German, forthcoming, 2014); Heidegger and Critical Theory (in German, 2012); articles on Marx, Adorno, Capitalism, Anarchism, and Negri.
Dissertations written by recent doctoral students in social and political thought include:
Samuel Williams, From Oppression to Democracy
Michael Reno, Adorno and the Possibility of Practical Reason
John Ouko, Human Rights as Ideology
Alison Reiheld, Rightly or for Ill: The Ethics of Remembering and Forgetting
Kwangsu Mok, Development Ethics as Recognition
J. Eric Lambert, Mutual Recognition and Social Conflict
Jennifer Swindell (Blumenthal-Barby), Respecting Autonomy is Cases of Ambivalence Regarding End of life Decisions
Sonya Charles, The Limits of Autonomy for Feminist Theory
Jennifer Benson, Towards a New Radical Feminist Vision: Navigating the Passage from Oppression to Freedom
Christy Rentmeester, Jaded, Institutional Oppression and Moral Damage in Healthcare
Heather Fieldhouse, Reconsidering the Status of Animals in Kant's Ethics
Kenneth Parsons, An Alternative Account of Structural Violence
Allison Wolf, Beyond Just Health Care-
Steven Wandmacher, The Social Contract Tradition: Patriarchy, Artifice, and Reason
Jordy Rocheleau, Universalism and Its Critics: a Defense of Discourse Ethics
Amber Katherine, Radical White Western Feminism: Toward a Reconstruction of Mary Daly's "Gyn/Ecology"
Vasile Pirau, Rationality and Cross Cultural Understanding
Mohamed Hassabelnabi, Concepts of Freedom in Locke & Marx with Relation to Sudan
David Howell, Aristotle's and Hegel's Contextual Approaches to Justice and the Distribution of Knowledge
C. Michael Liberato, Rethinking the Meaning of Political Stability and Democratic Participation
Michael A. Squillace, Taking Free Speech Seriously: Equality, Harm, and the Electronic Media
Edwin N. Teall, A Dutiful Reading of Kant's Political Philosophy
Michael W. Jankoviak, Environmental Philosophy: A Pragmatic Reconstruction
Bernard J. Mulvey, Sartre and Foucault on Knowledge and Practical Commitment
Nancy R. Crocker, Ethical Agency in Modernity Sponsoring Units