Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics


The mission of the Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics is to promote research and teaching that engages in scholarship across all fields that intersect through those three disciplinary and topical boundaries. Guided by an expansive appreciation for interdisciplinary and multimethod approaches, the Center is focused on advancing critical thinking and constructive civil discourse in the service of public and scholarly understanding of pressing social issues.

 Students Gathered at the GreenCenter’s Vision 

The complexity of democratic societies resists the compartmentalization of intellectual resources; the complex challenges we face are many, the societies to which we belong are diverse, and this enhances disagreement over who we are and how we should respond to our most pressing problems. Tackling the corrosion of norms and habits in the United States and internationally, including extreme political divisions, rising economic inequality, and environmental catastrophe requires a sustained commitment to investment in research and education. Recognizing its origin in specific disciplinary approaches, the Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics will support robust and wide-ranging multi-disciplinary inquiry to best address these issues. The Center supports all levels of academic inquiry including center-affiliated faculty, graduate students across campus, a postdoctoral fellowship program, research workshops, and a range of undergraduate programs that empower students to take advantage of interdisciplinary study.  

The Center will take its shape over time, but it is not shapeless at the start. Some examples of topics and questions that fit into the Center’s concerns include:

·      How should we understand what we call a liberal democratic society and the culture to support it? What are “liberalism” and “democracy?” What is the ground of their value and importance? What non-complacent implications do these have? Are the deepest critics of these traditions adequately answerable?

·      How do we nurture a way of seeing, speaking, and engaging each other that is consistent with the value of freedom from domination and exploitation that affirms equal regard for persons, and that fosters robust conversations that enhance understanding by subjecting claims to critical scrutiny? 

·      How do economic approaches and the values of our societies interact, shaping our interactions with each other and the environment? What political orientations are vulnerable on grounds of economic science and theory? What economic paradigms are vulnerable on political and philosophical grounds?

The first cluster is about the philosophy or norms of society, the second is about the character of its politics, and the third is about its economic organization, institutions, and performance. These are a small sample of issues and animating questions that give shape to the Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Brown.