Professor of Government
On Leave Fall 2021
Eric Beerbohm is Professor of Government at Harvard University and Chair of the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies. His philosophical and teaching interests include democratic theory, theories of social equality, and the philosophy of social science. His current work explores how citizens are vulnerable to gaslighting by political leaders. Does our idea of citizenship contain exploits that make it uniquely susceptible to manipulation? How can we distinguish holding "audacious beliefs" — a condition for democratic movements — from holding beliefs that are untethered from reality? His ongoing book project, If Elected: The Ethics of Lawmaking and Campaigning, develops a theory for lawmakers and candidates operating within a malfunctioning legislative system. What kinds of commitments, promises, and pledges can candidates make? In the “victory lab" of electoral poltics, what are the ethics of the political stump? What are the moral limits of hardball in legislative politics? In Our Name: The Ethics of Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2012, Paperbook, 2015, 368 pp.), considers the responsibilities of citizens for the injustices of their state. Recent papers include "The Democratic Limits of Political Experiments," "The Ethics of Electioneering," "The Common Good: A Buck-Passing Account" (Journal of Political Philosophy), "The Problem of Clean Hands: Negotiated Compromise in Lawmaking," (Nomos LIX: Compromise, 2018) and "Is Democratic Leadership Possible?" (American Political Science Review). A Marshall Scholar, Truman Scholar, and Mellon Fellow in the Humanities and Social Sciences, he received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2008, B.Phil. in Philosophy from Oxford University, and BA in Political Science and the Program in Ethics in Society from Stanford University. He is a recipient of the Roslyn Abramson Award, Harvard's highest award for teaching given annually to two faculty in Arts and Sciences for "excellence and sensitivity in undergraduate teaching." He serves as Co-Convener (with Danielle Allen) of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics Fellows in Residence Program, where he was Director of Graduate Fellowships from 2010-2017 and Founding Director of the Center's Undergraduate Fellowship Program.
Government 10: Foundations of Political Theory (Spring)
CGIS Knafel 421