Professor of Political Science:
Phone: (401) 863-6095
Sharon Krause works in the area of political theory. She has research interests in classical and contemporary liberalism; democratic theory; theories of freedom; the history of political thought; 18th-century studies (especially Hume and Montesquieu); political judgment and deliberative democracy; passions and politics; and feminism and political theory.
Sharon Krause is Professor of Political Science. She is the author of Liberalism with Honor (Harvard University Press, 2002) and Civil Passions: Moral Sentiment and Democratic Deliberation (Princeton University Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles on topics in classical and contemporary liberalism ranging from Hume and Montesquieu to Simone de Beauvoir and contemporary theories of justice. She received a B.A. from Wellesley College, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in political theory from the Government Department at Harvard University. She taught previously at Harvard University and at Wesleyan University. She has been the recipient of faculty research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Olin Foundation. Her book Civil Passions won the 2010 Spitz Prize from the Conference for the Study of Political Thought for best book in liberal or democratic theory and the 2009 Alexander George Book Award from the International Society of Political Psychology for best book in political psychology. Her work has appeared in such journals as Political Theory (2011; 2004; 2002; 2001), The Review of Politics (2000), Contemporary Political Theory (2005), Philosophy and Social Criticism (2013; 2000; 2006), Polity (1999), and History of Political Thought (2003). She is currently at work on a book about freedom.
Professor Krause's first book, Liberalism with Honor (Harvard University Press, 2002), explores the sources of spirited -- but principled -- political action in liberal democratic societies. Why do men and women sometimes risk their necks to defend their liberties? What motivates principled opposition to the abuse of power? Liberalism with Honor shows the sense of honor to be an important source of such action and a spring of individual agency more generally. Although often dismissed as a vestige of old world aristocracy, honor still matters for liberal democratic societies today and is an important support for individual freedom. It combines self-concern with principled higher purposes and so challenges the disabling dichotomy between self-interest and self-sacrifice that currently pervades both political theory and American public life. Moreover, while most of the time liberal democracy can get by with good citizens, occasionally it needs great ones -- men and women of unusual courage and extraordinary ambition who distinguish themselves by rising (when others will not) to the spirited defense of individual liberties.
Professor Krause's second book, Civil Passions (Princeton University Press, 2008), examines the relationship between reason and passion within political judgment and public deliberation. Must we put passions aside when we deliberate about justice? Can we do so? The dominant views of deliberation rightly emphasize the importance of impartiality as a cornerstone of fair decision-making, but they wrongly assume that impartiality means being disengaged and passionless. Civil Passions argues that moral and political deliberation necessarily incorporate passions, even as it insists on the value of impartiality. Drawing on resources ranging from Hume's theory of moral sentiment to recent findings in neuroscience, the book offers a systematic account of how passions can generate an impartial standpoint for deliberating about justice. This new account of affective but impartial judgment requires us to reconceive the meaning of public reason, the nature of sound deliberation, and the authority of law. It also demands a fundamental rethinking of who we are, both as citizens and as persons. By illuminating how impartiality feels, Civil Passions offers not only a truer account of how we deliberate about justice but one that promises to engage citizens more effectively in acting for justice. More on Civil Passions
Professor Krause's current book project, Freedom Beyond Sovereignty, asks the question: What does it mean to be free? The informal constellations of power manifest in racism, sexism, religiously-based discrimination, and other norms that perpetuate systematic relations of domination and oppression pose a serious challenge to individual freedom today, even in ostensibly free societies such as the U.S. To meet this challenge effectively, we need a better understanding of the complex dynamics of human agency that underlie freedom. This book develops a view of human agency that diverges sharply from the usual accounts of agency in liberal political theory today, which associate agency with a kind of personal sovereignty - with intentional choice and control over one's action. The model of agency as sovereignty obscures from view the deep and disabling conflicts that plague the agency of politically oppressed and socially marginalized persons. If agency is non-sovereign, however, it is not impotent. The agency of the marginalized sometimes surprises us with its vitality. Only by understanding the complex dynamics of agency as both non-sovereign and robust can we remediate the failed freedom of those who are marginalized by persistent inequality and grasp the scope of our own responsibility for social change. Freedom Beyond Sovereignty brings experiences of those who are marginalized in American society today to the center of political theory and the study of freedom. The book fundamentally reconstructs liberal individualism, and it advances our understanding of human action, personal responsibility, resistance to oppression, and the meaning of liberty.
Spitz Prize for the best book on liberal or democratic theory, awarded by the Conference for the Study of Political Thought for Civil Passions, 2010.
Alexander George Book Award for the best book published in the field of political psychology, awarded by the International Society of Political Psychology for Civil Passions, 2009.
Roslyn Abramson Award for excellence and sensitivity in teaching undergraduates, Harvard University, 2003
Donovan Prize for the best faculty paper at the 2001 Annual Meeting, New England Political Science Association, 2001
Charles Sumner Prize for the best dissertation from the legal, political, historical, economic, social, or ethnic approach dealing with the establishment of universal peace, Harvard University, 1998
American Political Science Association
Association for Political Theory
Conference for the Study of Political Thought
Professor Krause teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the history of political thought and in contemporary political theory, including topics such as ancient and modern political thought, theories of rights, feminism and political theory, political agency, liberalism and its critics, and democratic theory.
National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship, 2005-06 ($24,000)
National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Research Stipend, 2003 ($5,000)
Clark Fund Faculty Fellowship, Harvard University, 2003 ($3,500)
John M. Olin Foundation Faculty Fellowship, 1999-2000 ($61,000)