Jean Bethke Elshtain

Project Council
Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics in the Divinity School

University of Chicago

Send Email Send Email

Jean Elshtain is a political philosopher whose task has been to show the connections between our political and ethical convictions. Her books include Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social Thought; The Family in Political Thought; Meditations on Modern Political Thought; Women and War; Democracy on Trial (a New York Times “Notable Book” for 1995); Augustine and the Limits of Politics; Real Politics: At the Center of Everyday Life; New Wine in Old Bottles: Politics and Ethical Discourse; and Who Are We? Critical Reflections, Hopeful Possibilities, for which she received the Theologos Award for Best Academic Book 2000 by the Association of Theological Booksellers. In 2002, she published a book, Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy, and an edited volume, The Jane Addams Reader, which won second place for biography in 2002 from the Society of Midland Authors. In 2003, she published Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, which was named one of the best non-fiction books of 2003 by Publishers Weekly. In addition to her book-length studies, Professor Elshtain writes widely for journals of civic opinion, and lectures, both in the United States and abroad, on whether democracy will prove sufficiently robust and resilient to survive. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and chair of the Council on Civil Society. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and is currently on the Board of Trustees of the National Humanities Center and on the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy. She has been a Phi Beta Kappa lecturer, is the recipient of nine honorary degrees, and received the 2002 Frank J. Goodnow Award, the American Political Science Association’s highest award for distinguished service to the profession. In 2003, Professor Elshtain was the second holder of the Maguire Chair in Ethics at the Library of Congress.

In 2006, she was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and also delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, joining such previous Gifford Lecturers as William James, Hannah Arendt, Karl Barth, and Reinhold Niebuhr. The lectures are forthcoming under the title Sovereignties: God, State, and Self (2008).

Recent Publications
While Europe Slept
Elshtain, J. B. (2009). While Europe Slept. First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion & Public Life, 191: 33-6. Abstract: The article presents a reflection on the consequences of European intellectual society abandoning its religious ideological history. It is asserted that the Europe of the 21st-century refuses to acknowledge its religious roots and that as a...
Sovereignty, God, State and Self
Elshtain, JB. NY: Basic Books 2008 One of America's foremost political theorists explores the connections between our political and ethical convictions, changing forever the way we understand the notion of "sovereignty." Throughout the history of human intellectual endeavor...
A Response
Elshtain, J. B. (2007). A Response. International Relations, 21 (4), 502-9. Abstract: In this article Professor Elshtain responds to the critiques offered by the symposium and, five years on from 11 September 2001 and three years on from the initial publication of Just War Against Terror , revisits her analysis of the moral issues...
International Justice as Equal Regard and the Use of Force
Elshtain, J. B. (2003). International Justice as Equal Regard and the Use of Force. Ethics & International Affairs, 17 (2), 63-75. Abstract: Elshtain presents a case for the primacy of politics if one would argue persuasively about international justice. Without political stability, all attempts to assist developing states, or to sustain persons caught in the chaos of "failed...
Real Politics
Elshtain, Jean Bethke. 2000. Real Politics. Baltimore: JHU Press. At the center of this work is a passionate concern with the relationship between political rhetoric and political action. For Elshtain, politics is a sphere of concrete responsibility. Political speech should, therefore, approach the richness of actual...
Join the Network    
Users are able to post news & publications, maintain a profile, and participate in discussion forums related to research on virtues.


University of Chicago

Current Position

Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics in the Divinity School

Highest Degree

Ph.D. Brandeis University 1973

Research Interests

Institution Home Page

Home Page