College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > Political Science > Faculty > David Lay Williams
PhD, University of Texas at Austin
Professor Williams teaches and conducts research in political theory, especially the history of political thought. He received his PhD in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Rousseau's Platonic Enlightenment, Rousseau's 'Social Contract': An Introduction, and numerous articles on thinkers ranging from Plato to Jürgen Habermas and topics such as democratic theory, the separation of powers, social contract theory, religion and politics, terrorism, institutional design, political ontology, fear, love, and deception. In 2003-04 and 2008-09 he held research fellowships at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, and in 2012-13, he held a faculty fellowship at the DePaul Humanities Center. In 2016-17 he was the Wicklander Fellow at DePaul's Institute for Business and Professional Ethics. From 2017-2022 he was the political theory editor for the journal, Political Research Quarterly. Professor Williams also writes short pieces connecting the history of political thought to contemporary political concerns for outlets such as the Washington Post, The Hill, Public Seminar, and Bloomberg News.
Professor Williams is presently working on several projects. One, The Greatest of All Plagues: Economic Inequality in the History of Political Thought (under contract with Princeton University Press), traces the development of concern about the problem of economic inequality from Plato to Marx. Another is The Cambridge Companion to Rousseau's 'Social Contract,' (under contract with Cambridge University Press), a co-edited volume (with Matthew W. Maguire), which explores Rousseau's most celebrated political text from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. He is also developing a book project on economic inequality and the limits of sufficientarianism.