Thomas A. Spragens

Thomas A. Spragens

Professor Emeritus of Political Science

External Address: 
140 Science Drive, 204F Gross, Box 90204, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90204, Durham, NC 27708-0204
Phone: 
(919) 660-4313
Specialties: 
Political Theory

Professor of Political Science, specializes in modern political theory and the contemporary theory of liberal democracy. He has written The Dilemma of Contemporary Political Theory: Toward a Post-Behavioral Science of Politics (1973), The Politics of Motion: The World of Thomas Hobbes(1973), and Understanding Political Theory (1976). His book, The Irony of Liberal Reason, published by the University of Chicago Press (1981), examines the impact of changing conceptions of rationality upon the liberal tradition. A sequel to that volume, entitled Reason and Democracy(1990), provides a constructive account of the relationship between rational practices and democratic institutions. His 1999 book, Civic Liberalism: Reflections on Our Democratic Ideals, which was awarded the Elaine and David Spitz Book Prize for 2001, argues for a more complex and ambitious set of democratic aspirations than those found in the most prominent alternative theories. His most recent book is Getting the Left Right: The Transformation, Decline, and Reformation of American Liberalism. It was selected in 2010 as one of the two featured books for the Critical Dialogue section of the APSA journal Perspectives on Politics. His current research concerns the civic practices important to meet the challenges of democratic self-governance in today's world.

Education

  • Ph.D., Duke University 1968

Spragens, T. A. Civic Liberalism: Reflections on Our Democratic Ideals. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1999.

Spragens, T. A. Reason and Democracy. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1990.

Spragens, T. A. The Irony of Liberal Reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

Spragens, T. A. Understanding Political Theory. New York: St. Martin’s, 1976.

Spragens, T. A. The Politics of Motion: The World of Thomas Hobbes. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1973.

Spragens, T. A. “Beyond Bigotry and Nihilism: Moral Judgment in Pluralist Democracies.” Naming Evil, Judging Evil, edited by Ruth Grant, University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Spragens, T. A. “Theories of Justice, Rights, and Duties: Negotiating the Interface Between Normative and Empirical Theory.” Human Rights and Duties: Psychology’s Contributions, the Law’s Commentary, edited by Norman J. Finkel and Fathali M. Moghaddam, Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2005.

Spragens, T. A. “Legislating Morality in Liberal Democracies.” The Communitarian Reader: Beyond the Essentials, edited by Amitai Etzioni et al., Rowman and Littlefield (Lanham, Maryland), 2004.

Spragens, T. A. “Between Bigotry and Nihilism: Moral Judgment in Pluralist Democracies.” Speak No Evil: Moral Judgment in the Modern Age, edited by Ruth Grant, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, Illinois), 2004.

Spragens, T. A. “Legislating Morality in Liberal Democracies.” The Communitarian Reader: Beyond the Essentials, edited by Amitar Etzioni et al., Lanham, Maryland: Rowan and Littlefield Publishers, 2004.

Spragens, T. A. “Church and State in Liberal America: Locke and Tocqueville Revisited.” Politics, Reason, and the Human Good, edited by Robert P. Hunt, 2003.

Spragens, T. A. “Rationality in Liberal Politics.” Political Theory and Partisan Politics, edited by Adolf Gundersen and Ruth Shively, Albany, N.Y: SUNY Press, 2000.

Spragens, T. A. “Communitarian Liberalism.” New Communitarian Thinking, edited by Amitai Etzioni, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1995.

Spragens, T. A. “The Limitations of Libertarianism, Parts 1 and 2.” Responsive Community, vol. 2, Issues 1 and 2, 1991.

Spragens, T. A. “Reconstructing Liberal Theory: Reason and Liberal Culture.” Liberals on Liberalism, edited by A. J. Damico, Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1986.

Pages

Spragens, T. A., and Bruce Miroff. “Critical Dialogue.” Perspectives on Politics, edited by Jeffrey Isaac, vol. Vol. 8, American Political Science Association, June 2010, pp. 617–23.

Spragens, T. A. “Reply to Bruce Miroff's review of Getting the Left Right: The Transformation, Decline, and Reformation of American Liberalism.” Perspectives on Politics, vol. 8, no. 2, Jan. 2010, pp. 622–23. Scopus, doi:10.1017/S1537592710000484. Full Text

Spragens, T. A. “Democratic reasonableness.” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, vol. 11, no. 2, June 2008, pp. 193–214. Scopus, doi:10.1080/13698230802021363. Full Text

Spragens, Thomas A. “POPULIST PERFECTIONISM: THE OTHER AMERICAN LIBERALISM.” Social Philosophy and Policy, vol. 24, no. 1, Cambridge University Press (CUP), Jan. 2007, pp. 141–63. Crossref, doi:10.1017/s0265052507070069. Full Text

Spragens, T. A. “Communitarianism: Epitaph for a Monument to a Successful Reminder.” The Responsive Community, vol. 14, no. 2/3, 2004.

Spragens, T. A. “Justice, Consensus, and Boundaries: Assessing Political Liberalism.” Political Theory, vol. 31, no. 4, Aug. 2003.

Spragens, T. A. “Is the Enlightenment Project Worth Saving?.” Modern Age, vol. 43, no. 1, Dec. 2001.

Spragens, T. A. “The Bounds of Civic Morality.” The Responsive Community, vol. 11, no. 4, Oct. 2001, pp. 41–47.

Spragens, T. A. “The Antinomies of Social Justice.” The Review of Politics, vol. 55, no. 2, Nov. 1993, pp. 193–216. Scopus, doi:10.1017/S0034670500017356. Full Text