Professor Matthew Festenstein
Head of Department



Matthew Festenstein (BA Cambridge, PhD Cambridge) gained his PhD from Cambridge University in 1994. He previously taught at the Universities of Hull and Sheffield. Matthew arrived as Professor of Political Philosophy at York in 2006 and became Head of Department in 2010.

His books include Pragmatism and Political Theory (Polity Press and Chicago University Press), Negotiating Diversity: Culture, Deliberation, Trust (Polity Press, 2005), and, as co-editor, Richard Rorty: Critical Dialogues (Polity Press, 2001),  Political Ideologies (Oxford University Press, 2005), and Radicalism in English Political Thought, 1550-1850: Tradition or Fabrication? (Cambridge University Press, 2007). His research has been supported by grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Pragmatism and Political Theory: From Dewey to Rorty     Negotiating Diversity: Liberalism, Democracy and Cultural Difference     Political Ideologies       English Radicalism, 1550-1850: Tradition or Fabrication?         Richard Rorty: Critical Dialogues



Research Interests
  • Social and political theory
  • Pragmatism
  • Deliberative democracy
  • The politics of cultural diversity


Matthew welcomes research students in political theory, particularly in the areas of research interest listed above. He has successfully supervised students writing dissertations on a range of topics including liberalism, communitarianism and multiculturalism; theories of international justice; globalisation and the theory of ideology; deliberative and associative democracy; theories of subjectivity in contemporary political philosophy; democratic self-determination and the case for open borders.
His current research students include:

  • John Baxter, ‘Political Theory Beyond Left and Right’
  • Nick Gale, ‘Truth, Democracy and Pluralism: Contemporary Pragmatist Arguments’
  • William Hinds, ‘Human Rights and Discourse Ethics’
  • James Hodgson, ‘The Place of Executive Power in Deliberative Democracy’
  • Luis Rodrigues, ‘Liberalism and Multiculturalism: Minorities within Minorities’

External activities


Matthew has been an editor of Political Studies, the flagship journal of the Political Studies Association of the UK, and of Political Studies Review. He has also been an external examiner for doctoral degrees in the Politics and Philosophy departments of the universities of Cambridge, Exeter, Hull, London School of Economics, Melbourne, Oxford, and Newcastle, and for undergraduate programmes at Southampton and London.

Contact details

Prof. Matthew Festenstein
Head of Department
Department of Politics
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 323573

Feedback and Guidance hours this term - Tuesdays 10:00-12:00