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Michael Walzer

Michael Walzer

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Michael Walzer (ˈwɔːlzər; March 3, 1935) is a prominent American political philosopher and public intellectual. A professor emeritus
Emeritus
Emeritus is a post-positive adjective that is used to designate a retired professor, bishop, or other professional or as a title. The female equivalent emerita is also sometimes used.-History:...

 at the Institute for Advanced Study
Institute for Advanced Study
The Institute for Advanced Study, located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, is an independent postgraduate center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. It was founded in 1930 by Abraham Flexner...

 (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton is a community located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. It is best known as the location of Princeton University, which has been sited in the community since 1756...

, he is co-editor of Dissent
Dissent (magazine)
Dissent is a quarterly magazine focusing on politics and culture edited by Michael Walzer and Michael Kazin. The magazine is published for the Foundation for the Study of Independent Social Ideas, Inc by the University of Pennsylvania Press....

,
an intellectual magazine that he has been affiliated with since his years as an undergraduate at Brandeis University. He has written books and essays on a wide range of topics, including just and unjust wars, nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

, ethnicity, economic justice, social criticism, radicalism
Radicalization
Radicalization is the process in which an individual changes from passiveness or activism to become more revolutionary, militant or extremist. Radicalization is often associated with youth, adversity, alienation, social exclusion, poverty, or the perception of injustice to self or others.-...

, tolerance
Toleration
Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

, and political obligation
Obligation
An obligation is a requirement to take some course of action, whether legal or moral. There are also obligations in other normative contexts, such as obligations of etiquette, social obligations, and possibly...

 and is a contributing editor to The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

. To date, he has written 27 books and published over 300 articles, essays, and book reviews in Dissent
Dissent (magazine)
Dissent is a quarterly magazine focusing on politics and culture edited by Michael Walzer and Michael Kazin. The magazine is published for the Foundation for the Study of Independent Social Ideas, Inc by the University of Pennsylvania Press....

, The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

, The New York Review of Books
The New York Review of Books
The New York Review of Books is a fortnightly magazine with articles on literature, culture and current affairs. Published in New York City, it takes as its point of departure that the discussion of important books is itself an indispensable literary activity...

, The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

, The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, "Harpers
Harpers
The Harpers are a fictional and semi-secret organization in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting of the role playing game Dungeons & Dragons...

," and many philosophical and political science journals.

Life and work


Michael Walzer is usually identified as one of the leading proponents of the "Communitarian" position in political theory, along with Alasdair MacIntyre
Alasdair MacIntyre
Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre is a British philosopher primarily known for his contribution to moral and political philosophy but known also for his work in history of philosophy and theology...

 and Michael Sandel
Michael Sandel
Michael J. Sandel is an American political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for the Harvard course 'Justice' which is available to , and for his critique of Rawls' A Theory of Justice in his Liberalism and the Limits of Justice...

. Like Sandel and MacIntyre, Walzer is not completely comfortable with this label. He has, however, long argued that political theory must be grounded in the traditions and culture of particular societies and opposed what he sees to be the excessive abstraction of political philosophy. His most important intellectual contributions include Just and Unjust Wars, a revitalization of just war
Just War
Just war theory is a doctrine of military ethics of Roman philosophical and Catholic origin, studied by moral theologians, ethicists and international policy makers, which holds that a conflict ought to meet philosophical, religious or political criteria.-Origins:The concept of justification for...

 theory that insists on the importance of ethics in wartime while eschewing pacifism; the theory of "complex equality," which holds that the metric of just equality is not some single material or moral good, but rather that egalitarian justice demands that each good be distributed according to its social meaning, and that no good (like money or political power) be allowed to dominate or distort the distribution of goods in other spheres; and an argument that justice is primarily a moral standard within particular nations and societies, not one that can be developed in a universalized abstraction.

In On Toleration, he describes various examples of, and approaches to, toleration
Toleration
Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

, in multinational empires such as Rome, among nations in past and current-day international society, "consociations" such as Switzerland, nation-states such as France, and immigrant societies such as the United States. He concludes by describing a "post-modern" view, in which cultures within an immigrant nation have blended and inter-married to the extent that toleration becomes an intra-familial affair.

Walzer is the older brother of historian Judith Walzer Leavitt
Judith Walzer Leavitt
Judith Walzer Leavitt is an American historian.She was the Rupple Bascom and Ruth Bleier Professor of History of Medicine, History of Science, and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her book subjects have included a study of Mary Mallon, a history of childbirth in America,...

.

Education


In 1956 Walzer graduated Summa cum laude from Brandeis University
Brandeis University
Brandeis University is an American private research university with a liberal arts focus. It is located in the southwestern corner of Waltham, Massachusetts, nine miles west of Boston. The University has an enrollment of approximately 3,200 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students. In 2011, it...

 with a B.A.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in History. He then studied at the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 on a Fulbright Fellowship
Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, is a program of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Under the...

 (1956–1957) and completed his doctoral work at Harvard
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, earning his Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in Government in 1961.

Employment


Walzer was first employed as a professor in 1962 by Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

. He stayed there until 1966 when he moved to Harvard
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. He taught at Harvard until 1980 when he became a Permanent Faculty Member in the School of Social Science at the IAS
Institute for Advanced Study
The Institute for Advanced Study, located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, is an independent postgraduate center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. It was founded in 1930 by Abraham Flexner...

.

Walzer taught a semester-long course with Robert Nozick
Robert Nozick
Robert Nozick was an American political philosopher, most prominent in the 1970s and 1980s. He was a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia , a right-libertarian answer to John Rawls's A Theory of Justice...

 in 1971 called "Capitalism and Socialism". The course was a debate between the two: Nozick's side is in Anarchy, State, and Utopia
Anarchy, State, and Utopia
Anarchy, State, and Utopia is a work of political philosophy written by Robert Nozick in 1974. This minarchist book was the winner of the 1975 National Book Award...

,
and Walzer's side is in his Spheres of Justice
Spheres of Justice
Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality is a book written by Michael Walzer .In it, Walzer argues in favour of an idea he calls "complex equality", and against the view that goods with different meaning and content can be lumped together into the larger category of primary goods, as...

,
where he argues for "complex equality". He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Jewish Review of Books
Jewish Review of Books
The Jewish Review of Books is a quarterly magazine with articles on literature, culture and current affairs from a Jewish perspective. It is published in New York City....

.

Recognition


In April 2008, Walzer received the prestigious Spinoza Lens, a bi-annual prize for ethics in The Netherlands. He has also been honoured with an emeritus professorship at the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study
Institute for Advanced Study
The Institute for Advanced Study, located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, is an independent postgraduate center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. It was founded in 1930 by Abraham Flexner...

.

Among works of scholarship that seek to apply Walzer's ideas on Just and Unjust Wars to real situations are: Yaacov Lozowick
Yaacov Lozowick
Yaacov Lozowick , is a German-born Israeli historian and writer. He was the director of the archives at Yad Vashem.-Biography:Yaakov Lozowick was born in 1957 in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. In 1980, he gained qualifications as a tourist guide. In 1982, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in history...

's Right to Exist
Right to Exist
Right to Exist: a Moral Defense of Israel's Wars is a book by Israeli historian Yaacov Lozowick, the director of archives at the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority....

.

Published works

  • The Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics (Harvard University Press
    Harvard University Press
    Harvard University Press is a publishing house established on January 13, 1913, as a division of Harvard University, and focused on academic publishing. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. It is a member of the Association of American University Presses. Its current director is William P...

    , 1965) ISBN 0-674-76786-1
  • Obligations: Essays on Disobedience, War and Citizenship (Harvard University Press, 1970) ISBN 0-674-63025-4
  • Political Action (Quadrangle Books, 1971) ISBN 0-8129-0173-8
  • Regicide and Revolution (Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 1974) ISBN 0-231-08259-2
  • Just and Unjust Wars
    Just and Unjust Wars
    Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations is a 1977 book by Michael Walzer published by Basic Books and still in print, now as part of the Basic Books Classics Series.The book resulted from Walzer's reflections on the Vietnam War...

    (Basic Books
    Basic Books
    Basic Books is a book publisher founded in 1952 and located in New York. It publishes books in the fields of psychology, philosophy, economics, science, politics, sociology, current affairs, and history.-History:...

    , 1977, second edition, 1992, third edition, 2000, fourth edition, 2006) ISBN 0-465-03705-4
  • Radical Principles (Basic Books, 1977) ISBN 0-465-06824-3
  • Spheres of Justice
    Spheres of Justice
    Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality is a book written by Michael Walzer .In it, Walzer argues in favour of an idea he calls "complex equality", and against the view that goods with different meaning and content can be lumped together into the larger category of primary goods, as...

    (Basic Books, 1983) ISBN 0-465-08189-4
  • Exodus and Revolution (Basic Books, 1985) ISBN 0-465-02164-6
  • Interpretation and Social Criticism (Harvard University Press, 1987) ISBN 0-674-45971-7
  • The Company of Critics (Basic Books, 1988) ISBN 0-465-01331-7
  • Civil Society and American Democracy (Rotbuch Verlag, 1992, in German) ISBN 3-596-13077-8
  • What It Means to Be an American (Marsilio Publishers, 1992) ISBN 1-56886-025-0
  • Thick and Thin: Moral Argument at Home and Abroad (Notre Dame Press, 1994) ISBN 0-268-01897-9
  • Pluralism, Justice and Equality, with David Miller
    David Miller (political theorist)
    David Miller is a British political theorist. He received his BA from the University of Cambridge and his BPhil and DPhil from the University of Oxford. He is currently Official Fellow and Professor in Social and Political Theory at Nuffield College, Oxford. Previous works include Social...

     (Oxford University Press, 1995) ISBN 0-19-828008-4
  • Toward a Global Civil Society (Berghahn Books, 1995) ISBN 1-57181-054-4
  • On Toleration (Yale University Press
    Yale University Press
    Yale University Press is a book publisher founded in 1908 by George Parmly Day. It became an official department of Yale University in 1961, but remains financially and operationally autonomous....

    , 1997) ISBN 0-268-01897-9
  • Arguments from the Left (Atlas, 1997, in Swedish)
  • Pluralism and Democracy (Editions Esprit, 1997, in French) ISBN 2-909210-19-7
  • Reason, Politics, and Passion (Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1999, in German) ISBN 3-596-14439-6
  • The Jewish Political Tradition, Vol. I: Authority. co-edited with Menachem Lorberbaum, Noam Zohar, and Yair Lorberbaum (Yale University Press, 2000) ISBN 0-300-09428-0
  • Exilic Politics in the Hebrew Bible (Mohr Siebeck, 2001, in German) ISBN 3-16-147543-7
  • War, Politics, and Morality (Ediciones Paidos, 2001, in Spanish) ISBN 84-493-1167-5
  • The Jewish Political Tradition, Vol. II: Membership. co-edited with Menachem Lorberbaum, Noam Zohar, and Yair Lorberbaum (Yale University Press, 2003) ISBN 978-0-300-09428-2
  • Arguing About War (Yale University Press, 2004) ISBN 0-300-10365-4
  • Politics and Passion: Toward A More Egalitarian Liberalism (Yale University Press, 2004) ISBN 0-300-10328-X
  • Law, Politics, and Morality in Judaism. edited by Walzer (Princeton University Press, 2006) ISBN 0-691-12508-2
  • Thinking Politically (Yale University Press, 2007) ISBN 978-0300118162

See also

  • Hugo Grotius
    Hugo Grotius
    Hugo Grotius , also known as Huig de Groot, Hugo Grocio or Hugo de Groot, was a jurist in the Dutch Republic. With Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili he laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law...

  • Emer de Vattel
  • Thomas Nagel
    Thomas Nagel
    Thomas Nagel is an American philosopher, currently University Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University, where he has taught since 1980. His main areas of philosophical interest are philosophy of mind, political philosophy and ethics...

  • Robert Nozick
    Robert Nozick
    Robert Nozick was an American political philosopher, most prominent in the 1970s and 1980s. He was a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia , a right-libertarian answer to John Rawls's A Theory of Justice...

  • Richard Rorty
    Richard Rorty
    Richard McKay Rorty was an American philosopher. He had a long and diverse academic career, including positions as Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University...

  • John Rawls
    John Rawls
    John Bordley Rawls was an American philosopher and a leading figure in moral and political philosophy. He held the James Bryant Conant University Professorship at Harvard University....

  • Michael Sandel
    Michael Sandel
    Michael J. Sandel is an American political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for the Harvard course 'Justice' which is available to , and for his critique of Rawls' A Theory of Justice in his Liberalism and the Limits of Justice...

  • Charles Taylor
    Charles Taylor (philosopher)
    Charles Margrave Taylor, is a Canadian philosopher from Montreal, Quebec best known for his contributions in political philosophy, the philosophy of social science, and in the history of philosophy. His contributions to these fields have earned him both the prestigious Kyoto Prize and the...

  • Alasdair Macintyre
    Alasdair MacIntyre
    Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre is a British philosopher primarily known for his contribution to moral and political philosophy but known also for his work in history of philosophy and theology...

  • Gad Barzilai
    Gad Barzilai
    Gad Barzilai is a scholar of political science and law, famous for his work on the politics of law, human rights and communities. He is a professor of law, societies and justice, and international studies at University of Washington...


Sources and external links


For an analysis of communitarianism see: Gad Barzilai
Gad Barzilai
Gad Barzilai is a scholar of political science and law, famous for his work on the politics of law, human rights and communities. He is a professor of law, societies and justice, and international studies at University of Washington...

, Communities and Law: Politics and Cultures of Legal Identities [Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003]