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Jay Ruckelshaus

Jay Ruckelshaus

Research topic:
democratic theory
Degree course:

Academic Profile

My research concerns the ethics of political disagreement, particularly in relation to partisanship and polarization. My M.Phil. thesis engaged with the nascent normative literature on partisanship and questioned the party/faction distinction on which it relies. In the D.Phil., I'm expanding this work to develop a normative account of partisanship that emphasizes its role in channeling principled disagreement while outlining the distinctive dangers that emerge when partisan identity becomes all-consuming. I draw on divergent strands in political thought (republicanism, agonism, pragmatism, moderation) as well as empirical political science (party systems, political psychology) to see what resources they can offer us for understanding what might be wrong with polarization, and how we should conceptualize healthy democratic disagreement.

Other interests include the history of American political thought, virtue ethics, the role of emotions in political thought and action, and notions of positive freedom. I'm always happy to meet up to discuss any of these topics!


  • Rhodes Scholarship
  • Truman Scholarship
  • Duke University Faculty Scholars Award (#1 in graduating class)
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Summa Cum Laude