Assistant Professor of Political Science
Benjamin McKean is a political theorist whose research considers the role of dispositions in the achievement and maintenance of political freedom and social justice, particularly with respect to international politics. His manuscript Disposed to Justice offers a critical perspective on liberal political theory by restoring a citizen’s-eye view to the issue of global justice. In part by demonstrating the surprising extent to which John Rawls's theory of justice relies on elements of Hegel at key junctures, the project shows how citizens must shape their own dispositions in order for political society to function fairly. In doing so, it develops a criterion of solidarity to help individuals understand their political obligations in a social world that forces them to cooperate internationally with others whom shared institutions and practices fail to treat as free and equal. He is also at work on a second book project tentatively titled Political Freedom and Resentment that extends the conceptual language of dispositions to understanding the relationship between democracy and populism. His other research concerns questions of theory and practice, the relationship between aesthetics and power, and how natural and political catastrophes change our understanding of the meaning of human action. He received his PhD from the Princeton University Department of Politics in 2010 and received a Harper-Schmidt fellowship in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at the University of Chicago from 2010-2013.