The main mission of the Centre is to add value to research and education activities; enhance collaboration; and increase knowledge transfer in the following areas:

  • Moral theory
  • Political theory, in particular global justice and democratic theory
  • Economic philosophy and public choice
  • Evolution and ethics, in particular the evolution of pro-social and co-operative behavior, and the cognitive mechanisms that sustain them.
  • Public policy and institutional design.

CMSPT oversees the following activities:

Passmore Lecture

Given annually by distinguished a distinguished visitor, this is the academic highlight of the Centre's year. Past Passmore Lecturers include Quentin Skinner (Cambridge), Alan Gibbard (Michigan), James Buchanan (Nobel Laureate, George Mason), Jeremy Waldron (NYU/Oxford), Anne Phillips (LSE), Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard), Jane Mansbridge (Harvard), Edna Ullmann-Margalit (Hebrew), Larry Temkin (Rutgers), Geoff Sayre-McCord (North Carolina) and David Runciman (Cambridge).

Weekly Seminars

The Centre organises a weekly seminar, where staff, students and visiting fellows discuss work in progress. 

Monthly Graduate Workshops

The MSPT Graduate workshop takes place every fourth Friday, giving graduate students the chance to have their work read and discussed by the whole MSPT community at ANU.

Fortnightly Reading Group

The MSPT reading group provides the opportunity to discuss leading work in moral, social and political theory, organised around particular themes.

Harsanyi Fellowship

The Harsanyi Fellowship, named in honour of the School's Nobel Laureate, provides the opportunity for a leading mid-career scholar to come on-salary for a protracted visit. The Harsanyi fellow for 2012 is Jon Quong, from the University of Manchester, who joins us for July and August.

Visiting Fellows

The Centre has a strong tradition of overseas visitors, ranging from PhD students and postdoctoral fellows through senior scholars, who come on various bases.


The Centre hosts thematic conferences, roughly two a year. To some of these we intentionally invite (and fund) undergraduates and postdoctoral students, as a way of building bridges to the discipline's future (and, not incidentally, recruiting future staff and HDR students).


The Centre is the editorial base of The Journal of Political Philosophy and for multiple editions of the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy and the associated Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology, as well as the OUP Handbook of the Ethics of War. Biology and Philosophy - also edited by Centre faculty - also regularly publishes on the evolutionary foundations of moral behaviour and political institutions.

Public Ethics Radio

Public Ethics Radio engages ethicists in discussion of pressing practical dilemmas. Each program focuses on a particular theme—military intervention, international trade, political corruption—and takes as its starting point some more specific issue that is prominent in the public consciousness. The show is hosted by Christian Barry and produced by Matt Peterson, and supported by the 'Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.'

Updated:  21 September 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications