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Samuel Freeman

Avalon Professor in the Humanities Emeritus

Professor of Philosophy

Ph.D. Harvard University

J.D. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

A.B. (Highest Honors) University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Samuel Freeman teaches courses on social and political philosophy. He retired from full time teaching in 2021. He has written books on Liberalism and Distributive Justice (2018), Justice and the Social Contract (2007) and on the political philosophy of John Rawls (Rawls, 2007).  Freeman edited the Cambridge Companion to Rawls (2003), as well as John Rawls's Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy (2007) and his Collected Papers (1999). Freeman was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017. He is currently working on a manuscript on liberalism and libertarianism.


Research Interests

  • Social and Political Philosophy
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Law

Selected Publications

Find me on PhilPapers:

Liberalism and Distributive Justice (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Rawls, (The Philosophers Series, Routledge, 2007; Chinese translation, 2014; Spanish translation, 2016)

Justice and the Social Contract, (Oxford University Press, 2006)

‘A Precés’ and ‘Replies to Critics’, Book Symposium: on Liberalism and Distributive Justice, in Philosophy and Public Issues, 10: 1, 2020, pp. 3-22, 175-347

'The Original Position', Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2008, substantive revision 2023,

‘High Liberalism,’ The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, Routledge, 2022.

‘Democracy, Religion, and Public Reason,’ Daedalus, 149, no.3: Summer 2020, pp 37-58

Contractarian Justice and Severe Cognitive Disabilities,' in Disability and Practice, edited by Thomas Hill and Adam Cureton, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 174-203

Distributive Justice and the Difference Principle,' Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice, Serena Olsaretti, ed., Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 13-40

‘Liberal and Illiberal Libertarians,’ in The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism, Routledge, 2017, 108-124.

‘Property Owning Democracy and the Difference Principle,’ Analyse & Kritik, vol. 9 (2013):  9-36

'The Social and Institutional Bases of Distributive Justice,' in Cosmopolitanism versus Noncosmopolitanism, Gillian Brock, ed. (Oxford U Press, 2013), 198-221

‘Capitalism in the Classical and High Liberal Traditions,’ Social Philosophy and Policy 28 (no. 2 Summer 2011): 19-55

'The Burdens of Public Justification,' Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, 6 (No.1, 2007): 5-43

"Illiberal Libertarians: Why Libertarianism is not a Liberal View" Philosophy and Public Affairs, 30, 2 (Spring 2001), 105-151.

“John Rawls: An Overview,” in The Cambridge Companion to Rawls, Samuel Freeman, ed., 1-61.(Cambridge University Press, 2003)

“Deliberative Democracy: A Sympathetic Comment,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, 29, 4 (Fall 2000 issue), 371-418

“Utilitarianism, Deontology, and the Priority of Right,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, 23, 4 (Fall 1994), pp.313-349.

“Original Meaning, Democratic Interpretation, and the Constitution,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, 21, 1 (Winter 1992), pp.3-42.

"Property as an Institutional Convention in Hume's Account of Justice," Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, vol.73, no.1, 1991, pp.20-49.

“Reason and Agreement in Social Contract Views,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, 19, 2 (Spring 1990), pp.122-157.

"Constitutional Democracy and the Legitimacy of Judicial Review,"
Law and Philosophy, vol.9, no.4, November 1990, pp.327-370.