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Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values
Assistant: Don Olander

Arthur Isak Applbaum is Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values. His work on political legitimacy, civil and official disobedience, and role morality has appeared in journals such as Philosophy & Public Affairs, Journal of the American Medical Association, Harvard Law Review, Ethics, and Legal Theory. He is the author of Legitimacy: The Right to Rule in a Wanton World, an philosophical account of what is required for a government to be polticially legitimate, and Ethics for Adversaries, a book about the morality of roles in public and professional life. Applbaum has written about the ethics of executioners and of butlers, and he has consulted to the government about the ethics of spies. Recent articles include “Legitimacy without the Duty to Obey” and “Forcing a People to Be Free.” Applbaum recently completed a political philosophy novel for teenagers. He was Acting Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard, where he currently directs the undergraduate fellowships in ethics. Applbaum established the core course in political ethics at the Kennedy School, and also teaches the political theory field seminar in the Government Department and a freshman seminar, “What Happened in Montaigne’s Library on the Night of October 23, 1587, and Why Should Political Philosophers Care?” He has been a member of Harvard’s Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility and chairs the ethics advisory board of a stem cell research foundation. Applbaum holds degrees from Princeton and Harvard. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Jerusalem, a Faculty Fellow in Ethics at Harvard, and a Rockefeller Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values.

Faculty of Arts & Sciences Courses


      DPI-411 Political Philosophy for Development

      Government 94saf  Safra Undergraduate Ethics Fellowship Seminar
      Freshman Seminar 48k  What Happened in Montaigne's Library on the Night of October 23, 1587, and Why Should Political Philosophers Care?

Academic Journal/Scholarly Articles


Book Chapters

HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series

Research Papers/Reports


Phone: 617-495-8058
Assistant: Don Olander


Human Rights
Fairness & Justice
Democracy & Governance

Mailing Address

Harvard Kennedy School
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138