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Moral, Political, and Legal Philosophy

Penn has special strengths in practical philosophy. This includes political philosophy, metaethics, normative ethics, and the philosophy of law. Members of the Department work on and teach a diverse range of topics in these areas, both contemporary and historical. 

Faculty who specialize in political philosophy include Samuel Freeman and Kok-Chor Tan. Samuel Freeman has particular interests in the social contract tradition and Rawlsian political philosophy. Kok-Chor Tan focuses on issues of global justice, human rights, and multiculturalism.

Faculty who specialize in metaethics include Errol Lord and Daniel Singer. Errol Lord works on the nature of reasons and rationality and the place of normative reasons in the metaphysics of normativity. Daniel Singer focuses on how to develop constructivist theories of normativity and the is/ought gap. In addition, much of Lord, Lisa Miracchi, and Singer's work in epistemology bears directly on issues in metaethics.

Faculty who specialize in normative ethics include Cristina Bicchieri, Samuel Freeman, and Errol Lord. Bicchieri examines social norms from a game-theoretical perspective. Freeman works on contractualist approaches to ethics. Lord works on the justification of partiality and the interaction of prudence and morality. Freeman works on contractualist approaches to ethics. From a more historical perspective, Susan Sauvé Meyer works on ancient Greek moral theory.


Samuel Freeman also specializes in the philosophy of law with an emphasis on constitutional theory. In addition, colleagues from the Law School contribute to our offerings in legal philosophy, and participate in different ways to the PhD/JD Program. Among their many interests within legal philosophy, Anita Allen writes on privacy law, and gender and the law; William Ewald writes on legal history and international law; Claire Finkelstein works on various aspects of criminal law and Hobbes; Stephen Perry works on the relationship between legal and moral responsibility and the nature of authority; and Mitchell Berman works on constitutional theory, the philosophy of criminal law, and general jurisprudence (along with the philosophy of sport). 

Our associated faculty also cover many areas of moral, political, and legal philosophy. Thomas Donaldson, Brian Berkey, Julian Jonker, Nina Strohminger, Amy Sepinwall, Robert Hughes  and Alan Strudler (all from the Wharton School) add to Penn's strengths in moral and political philosophy and applied ethics. Amy Gutmann (Political Science) has written on topics such as democratic theory, multiculturalism and the philosophy of education, and Zeke Emmanuel and Dominic Sisti (Medical Ethics & Health Policy) and Jonathan Moreno (HSS) work on diverse topics in biomedical ethics.