One of the major strengths of the department of Michigan State University is its focus on social and political thought. Faculty are working in an area in which traditional debates over justice, freedom, and equality are increasingly joined in contemporary philosophy by concerns with inequality, power, identity, capitalism, political freedom, democracy, and the rationalization of institutions and practices. In recent years individual faculty have published books and articles on themes in critical theory, Continental philosophy, feminism, African American thought, Hegelian political thought, postcolonial thought, and the critique of liberalism. Issues addressed have been democracy, the politics of knowledge, capitalism, technology, social epistemology, science and democracy, and law. Many dissertations have been written in these areas, and ongoing discussion groups have formed around themes concerning gender, race, and ecology.

Students may make social and political thought their main area of interest or may define a more specific focus within this field, especially in connection with critical theory, post-colonialism, French and German philosophy, and feminist philosophy. Students are encouraged to combine topics from this area with work in other areas of philosophy, such as philosophy and race, philosophy of law, philosophy of technology, environmental philosophy, philosophy of science and philosophy of medicine.

Interdisciplinary work is also encouraged, particularly at the doctoral level.

Faculty working in these areas:
More information on faculty areas and research can be found here:

Megan Dean: Feminist Philosophy, Bioethics, Science and Values

Heather Douglas: Philosophy of Science; Values in Science; Science in Society; Responsible Research; Science Policy

Steve Esquith: Philosophy of Law; Moral and Political Philosophy

Leonard M. Fleck: Medical Ethics; Social and Political Philosophy; Deliberative Democracy; Health Care Policy

Fred Gifford: Philosophy of biological science and medicine, history and philosophy of science, ethical issues in health care, life, and environmental sciences, and biotechnology.

Todd Hedrick: Contemporary social-political philosophy, philosophy of law, Frankfurt School critical theory.

Christian Lotz: Post-Kantian European philosophy, Continental aesthetics, phenomenology, critical theory, Marx, contemporary European political philosophy.

John McClendon: African American philosophers and philosophical traditions, African philosophy, Marxism, philosophy of sports, the African American experience, philosophy of religion and African Americans.

Frederick Rauscher: Kant, Early Modern Philosophy, Post-Kantian Idealism, Ethical Theory, Rawls.

Elena Ruíz: Latin American feminism, indigenous feminism, critical race feminism, postcolonial feminism, feminist social epistemology, Continental feminism.

Tacuma Peters: Eighteenth century anti-imperialism in the Americas and the intersection of social / political philosophy with chattel slavery, European empire, decolonization.

Lisa Schwartzman: Feminist theory, critiques of liberalism, philosophy of law, feminist approaches to autonomy, rights, and equality.