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

Arthur Isak Applbaum is Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values and chair of the Democracy, Politics, and Institutions area. He is the author of Legitimacy: The Right to Rule in a Wanton World (Harvard University Press) and Ethics for Adversaries: The Morality of Roles in Public and Professional Life (Princeton University Press). 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. Applbaum has written about the ethics of executioners and of butlers, and he has consulted to the government about the ethics of spies. 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 now teaches the core course in political philosophy for international development students. His freshman seminar, “What Happened in Montaigne’s Library on the Night of October 23, 1587, and Why Should Political Philosophers Care?” led to a recently completed political philosophy novel for teenagers. 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

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

Transparent Engagement 

Harvard Kennedy School is proud of its energetic involvement in the world. To better understand how to solve public problems by improving policy and leadership, we engage directly with policymakers, public leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses whose activities affect those problems. However, we recognize that such engagement can raise questions about perceived and potential conflicts of interest, so we disclose publicly the key professional activities of our faculty outside the Kennedy School. The activities disclosed below are for the most recent reporting period, as defined by University policy. Some may be paid, some may be unpaid, and others may be in exchange for expense reimbursement only.

Outside Professional Activities For Arthur Applbaum

Organization Relationship
Bedford Research Foundation Membership on a scientific or other advisory board
Harvard Hillel Foundation Fiduciary board membership
International Academic Program, Autonomous University of Madrid Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Edmond J Safra Foundation Reimbursed travel
University of Graz Reimbursed travel
University of Toronto Paid external reviewer


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