Scholars at ANU have made an exceptional contribution to moral and political philosophy since its inception, with some of the field's most prominent figures doing some of their most important work here. In early years, senior professors included Kurt Baier, Stanley Benn, John Passmore, and Jack Smart, with Jerry Gaus and John Harsanyi (who went on to win a Nobel Prize in Economics) among the many shorter-term members. Over the last twenty years Geoff Brennan, Bob Goodin, Frank Jackson, Philip Pettit and Michael Smith formed the core of a research community that produced many influential contributions to these fields.
The Centre for Moral, Social and Political Theory aims to become a world-leading forum for exposition and analysis of the evolution, structure, and implications of our moral, social and political life.
With the Centre for Moral, Social and Political Theory, we aim to build on that tradition and create a world-leading forum for the exposition and analysis of the structure, evolution, and implications of our moral, social and political life. Bringing established ANU philosophers such as Brennan, Goodin, Jackson, Pettit, Victoria McGeer and Kim Sterelny, political theorists like Keith Dowding, and distinguished adjunct professors such as John Broome, together with younger scholars, such as Christian Barry, Rachael Briggs, Bronwyn Finnigan, Seth Lazar, Nic Southwood, Lea Ypi, as well as myriad international visitors and postdoctoral fellows, we aim to provide a focus for the whole university's engagement with the issues around moral, social and political theory.
Ethos & activity
Our ethos is critically collegial and intensely collaborative. We aim to bring all those interested in these questions together, so that each can benefit from the insights of the others. To this end we have a rich regular programme of events, from the weekly MSPT Seminar on Mondays, to the fortnightly Reading Group, and the monthly Graduate Workshop. Each year we host the Passmore lecture, and invite a prominent scholar in the field to be our Harsanyi fellow. In addition to our standard 2-3 month Visiting Fellowships, we also regularly invite visitors on a more ad hoc and short-term basis to themed workshops and conferences. In recent years, we have hosted scholars such as Samantha Brennan, Cécile Fabre, Helen Frowe, Anca Gheaus, Niko Kolodny, Christian List, Catherine Lu, Mike Otsuka, Gerhard Øverland, Jon Quong, Massimo Renzo, Anna Stilz, Rebecca Stone, George Tsai, Laura Valentini, and David Wiens.
We also aim to be a hub for Australasian moral and political philosophy, and to this end organise (together with the University of Sydney) an annual moral philosophy workshop at the ANU's beach campus at Kioloa, as well as a workshop for Australasian honours and masters students with an interest in pursuing a career in philosophy.
We have a highly active graduate student community, and graduates from the programme have gone on to tenure-track roles in leading institutions, such as Holly Lawford-Smith, now at the University of Melbourne, Stephanie Collins at the University of Manchester, Luara Ferracioli at the University of Sydney, Jon Herington at Kansas State, and Rosa Terlazzo at Kansas State. The Ph.D program at the RSSS School of Philosophy is unique for its combination of the prestige of the Department with unparalleled access both to the faculty here, and to the myriad international visitors. We welcome all competitive applications, especially those from people from groups that have historically been underrepresented in philosophy, in particular women and people with Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander backgrounds.