Academic Year 2012-2013
Nancy L. Rosenblum is a Senator Joseph Clark Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government in the Department of Government at Harvard University where she served as Chair from 2004 to 2010. Prof. Rosenblum’s fields are the history of modern political thought and contemporary political theory. Her books include On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship and Membership and Morals: The Personal Uses of Pluralism in America which was awarded the David Easton Prize by the APSA in 2002. Among her edited volumes are Thoreau: Political Writings, Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought; Obligations of Citizenship and Demands of Faith: Religious Accommodation in Pluralist Democracies; Civil Society and Government (co-edited with Robert Post); and with Martha Minow Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law, and Repair. Prof. Rosenblum is President of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, Associate Editor of Annual Review of Political Science, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Good Neighbor Nation: The Democracy of Everyday Life in America
I am working on two projects in democratic theory. Good Neighbor Nation examines the moral psychology of the democracy of everyday life among neighbors in the U.S.. Using literature, social science, law, and political philosophy, I explore the hold that the idea of “good neighbor” has on personal and national moral identity. What is the democratic ethos that defines “good neighbor,” and how does it diverge from standard notions of civic virtue and from democratic principles? Distinct among social relations for the absence of institutions, shared purposes, and an articulated ethic, reciprocity provides a foothold for neighbors; but reciprocity is open-ended and indeterminate, and rough equality of give and take diverges from standard democratic understandings of equality. So how do we and should we go about giving and taking offense, enacting the injunction “live and let live,” and minding our own and others’ business in mundane interactions and under exigent conditions when neighbors hold our lives in their hands?
My project on the spirit of “responsible partisanship,” co-authored with Russell Muirhead, is a normative counterpart to work in political science on the functions and pathologies of political parties. We assess antiparty and antipartisan arguments in contemporary democratic theory, criticize the value attributed to political independence, and argue for the importance of partisanship for participation, deliberation, and decision-making by legislators, judges, activists, and private citizens.