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Pilot Lecture: Power and Justice—Does Might Make Right?

Discover the hidden philosophic foundations that form our contemporary political and social thinking.
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Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan is most famous for being one of the first influential texts in English to insist that the legitimacy of any government rests on the consent of the governed. If people refuse to be governed by a particular government, then that government loses its right to govern. In this new Wondrium Pilot, join Professor Jennifer Uleman to explore the balance of justice and power throughout history.


Jennifer Uleman is the Associate Professor of Philosophy at Purchase College. She has three current projects.  The newest and still most experimental is on race in general and whiteness in particular in the contemporary U.S.  She is also writing on mid-century “great books” educator and trivium-advocate Sister Miriam Joseph, and is working on a set of papers on life and death and German Idealism.  Her Introduction to Kant’s Moral Philosophy (Cambridge University Press) was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2010.  Articles on Kant’s moral and political thought have appeared in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Kantian Review, and the Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung; reviews, comments, and conference proceedings on art, politics, and other topics have appeared in other venues (see below for links).   She has received both research and teaching grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst.  Professor Uleman has taught at Purchase since 2004, received a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014, and was the 2018-2020 Doris and Carl Kempner Distinguished Professor.

By This Expert

Power and Justice: Does Might Make Right?

01: Power and Justice: Does Might Make Right?

Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher who lived from 1588 to 1679, entertained the idea of “might makes right.” But did that mean the mighty were free to do whatever they wanted? Not quite. In his 1651 book, Leviathan, he strongly defended a powerful monarchy, but only because he believed that our own desires to live in peace dictate that we must agree among ourselves to unquestioningly obey an overarching monarchy. Here, Professor Jennifer Uleman explores the balance of justice and power throughout history.

31 min