Professor Williams teaches and conducts research in
political theory, especially the history of political thought. 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. He
is also co-editor (with James Farr) of The General Will: The Evolution of a Concept. 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. Professor Williams also writes short pieces
connecting the history of political thought to contemporary political
concerns for outlets such as the Washington Post's Monkey Cage and Bloomberg News.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Fundamental Political Writings (co-edited with Matthew W. Maguire; translated by Ian Johnston). Broadview Press, March, 2018.
Rousseau's 'Social Contract': An Introduction. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
The General Will: The Evolution of a Concept (co-edited with James Farr et al.). Cambridge University Press, February, 2015.
Rousseau's Platonic Enlightenment . Penn State University, 2007.
Professor Williams is working on several projects, including The Greatest of All Plagues: Economic Inequality in the History of Political Thought
(under contract with Princeton University Press), in which he is tracing the development of concern about the problem of economic inequality. Beyond this, David is also working on Spinoza's Republics of Fear, Love, and Reason