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James Lindley Wilson is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. His research interests span political philosophy, ethics, and law. Most of his work focuses on normative democratic theory, including the moral evaluation of democracy and questions of what democratic ideals require of citizens and institutions. His forthcoming book, Democratic Equality (Princeton University Press, 2019), articulates the moral force of the democratic idea that all citizens are equal political authorities, and to explain how that abstract idea ought to regulate the design and operation of political institutions, such as elections and representative systems. This involves development of philosophical theories of social equality and of authority relations. The book also addresses practical political controversies—for example, criticizing unequal representation in the U.S. Senate and Electoral College; defending the legitimacy of campaign finance regulation; addressing the fair representation of groups, including racial minorities; and explaining the proper place of judicial review in a democracy. In responding to such applied questions in a philosophically principled way, Jim’s work on political equality aims to provide a deeper understanding of democracy’s value, and its close relation to other ideals of social, economic, and racial equality.
Jim also writes on the history of political thought (with emphasis on democratic thought), including the work of Aristotle, Kant, and the Federalists. His current work addresses the relationship of democracy and individual autonomy, and the relationship between reparations for historic injustice (such as the slave trade) and ideals of global justice. He has published articles in the American Political Science Review, the Review of Politics, and Representation.
Recent classes include Racial Justice and Injustice; Democracy and Equality; Global Justice and the Politics of Empire (w/ Adom Getachew); Contemporary Egalitarianism; The Ethics of War; Introduction to Political Theory; and John Rawls’ Theory of Justice (w/ Chiara Cordelli).
Jim received his PhD in Politics from Princeton University in 2011, and my JD from Yale Law School in 2007. He graduated from Harvard University, with an AB in Social Studies, in 2002.
- “Deliberation, Democracy, and the Rule of Reason in Aristotle’s Politics.” American Political Science Review 105 (2011): 259-74.
- “Does Kant Justify Liberal Intervention?” Review of Politics 73 (2011): 633-47 (with Jonathan Monten).
- “Getting Personal with Citizens and Criminals: Comments on Democratic Rights and Punishment.” Representation 47 (2011): 39-49.