This spring, one of America’s foremost political thinkers will address one of the hottest issues debated in the United States during a talk at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Michael Walzer, professor emeritus of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., will present “Arguing about Immigration” on Tuesday, April 16 at 4:30 p.m. in Albright Auditorium.
Walzer has enjoyed a significant career as a public intellectual and political theorist, having taught at both Princeton and Harvard before joining the Institute for Advanced Study. As a professor, author, editor and lecturer, he has addressed a wide variety of topics in political theory and moral philosophy, including political obligation, just and unjust war, nationalism and ethnicity, economic justice and the welfare state.
The author of nearly 30 books including Just and Unjust Wars, Spheres of Justice, The Company of Critics and Thick and Thin: Moral Argument at Home and Abroad, his essays have also played a part in the revival of practical, issue-focused ethics and in the development of a pluralist approach to political and moral life.
For more than 30 years, Walzer was the editor of Dissent, an intellectual magazine founded in 1954. His most recent work, A Foreign Policy for the Left, was published in 2018. He is currently working on the fourth volume of The Jewish Political Tradition, a comprehensive collaborative project focused on the history of Jewish political thought.
Walzer’s visit is part of the Foster P. Boswell Distinguished Lecturer in Philosophy Series at HWS, and which this year will be presented in honor of Professor of Philosophy Steven Lee, who is retiring this year following a nearly 40-year tenure at the Colleges. Lee’s scholarship addresses ethics, nuclear weapons and just war theory.
“The purpose of the Boswell Series is to bring renowned philosophers to give talks that are accessible to a general audience and the wider HWS and local community,” says Professor of Philosophy Scott Brophy ’78, who is coordinating the visit. “It’s aimed especially at all students—those who may not yet know that they have an interest in philosophy.”
In addition to the public discussion, Walzer will visit Lee’s “Philosophy and Contemporary Issues: Morality and War” class, which studies Walzer’s writings as part of the class curriculum.
“Both Professor Lee and Professor Walzer have philosophical interests in moral issues connected to war, as well as other topics in ethical, social and political philosophy,” says Brophy. “Like almost everyone working in these areas during the past 50 years, Professor Lee has had a long-standing, keen interest in Professor Walzer’s work.”