Michael Walzer is one of America's leading political philosophers. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and editor of Dissent, a left-wing quarterly of politics and culture. He has written on a wide range of topics, including just and unjust wars, nationalism, ethnicity, economic justice, social criticism, radicalism, tolerance, and political obligation. He is also a contributing editor to The New Republic and a member of the editorial board of Philosophy & Public Affairs. To date he has written 27 books and has published over 300 articles, essays, and book reviews. He is a member of several philosophical organizations including the American Philosophical Society.
Question: Which philosophers have stood the test of time?
Michael Walzer: Well, the major 20th century American philosopher was John Rawls, and he has had a very significant influence, although his name is probably not a household, a household term. But Rawlsian thought has had a significant influence in our law schools-- and the United States is a very law-focused country--a very important influence in our law schools and in political science departments. It has affected the debate, and after him I guess John Dewey was the other big 20th century American figure and his version of pragmatism and his conception of the political public and democracy. They have an influence. I don’t know; it’s not a measurable influence.
Recorded on: 2/27/08