George Klosko headshot

George Klosko

Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Politics
Office location and address
S381 Gibson Hall
1540 Jefferson Park Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
Ph.D. Columbia University, Department of Political Science

George Klosko’s research interests include contemporary political theory, especially issues in analytical and normative theory, and the history of political thought. He teaches courses in both areas: in the history of political thought, focusing on the liberal tradition and Greek political theory, especially Plato; in contemporary, in specific aspects of liberal theory, including problems of political obligation and the theory of John Rawls and Rawls’s critics. His books include: The Development of Plato’s Political Theory (Methuen, 1986; Second Edition, Oxford, 2006); The Principle of Fairness and Political Obligation (Rowman and Littlefield, 1992); Political Obligations (Oxford University Press, 2005), and The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy (Oxford, 2011), which he edited. Political Obligations was awarded the 2007 David and Elaine Spitz Prize by the International Conference for the Study of Political Thought, “for the best book in liberal and/or democratic theory published two years earlier.” He has published more than forty articles in Political Science, Philosophy, and Classics journals, including the American Political Science Review, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Ethics, Political Theory, and Classical Quarterly. In addition to continuing to write on issues of political obligation, he is currently working on a critical history of the normative foundations of the American welfare state, as defended by various political actors, over the last 100 years. His book in progress, The Transformation of American Liberalism, is under contract with Oxford University Press.

PLPT 3010: Ancient and Medieval Political Theory
Credits: 3
Western Political Theory from Plato to the Reformation. Among authors covered are Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Martin Luther. For the medieval period, central themes are natural law, allegorical interpretation of Scripture, and the origins of modern liberal political theory.
PLPT 3020: Modern Political Thought
Credits: 3
Studies the development of political theory from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century.
PLPT 4020: Plato and Aristotle
Credits: 3
Studies the political and philosophical ideas of the founders of the tradition of political philosophy. Prerequisite: PLPT 1010 or 3010 or instructor permission.
PLPT 4070: Liberalism and Its Critics
Credits: 3
Major themes in the liberal tradition of political theory. The course examines central elements of liberal political theory and traces the development of classical liberalism into contemporary welfare-state liberalism. Focus is on strengths and weaknesses of both positions, and criticisms of the overall liberal approach. Among authors covered are Locke, Mill, Hobhouse, Rawls, and Nozick.
PLPT 4990: Honors Core Seminar in Political Theory
Credits: 9
A critical analysis of important issues and works in political theory from diverse perspectives. Students are required to write weekly analytical essays and actively participate in small seminar discussions on issues including: theories of common good, economic justice, toleration and free society, and radical criticism. Prerequisite: Admission to Politics Honors Program.
PLPT 5500: Special Topics in Political Theory
Credits: 3
Investigates a special problem of political theory such as political corruption, religion and politics, science and politics, or the nature of justice.
PLPT 5993: Selected Problems in Theory and Method
Credits: 1–3
Independent study under faculty supervision, for students who are preparing for intensive research on a specific topic. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
PLPT 7000: Introduction to Political Theory
Credits: 3
Introduces the themes, methods, and development of political theory from classical antiquity to the present.
PLPT 8020: Problems of Political Philosophy
Credits: 3
Detailed study of one or more problems in political philosophy.