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Professor Matthew Festenstein



Matthew Festenstein (BA Cambridge, PhD Cambridge) previously taught at the Universities of Hull and Sheffield. Matthew arrived as Professor of Political Philosophy at York in 2006. He was Director of the Morrell Centre for Toleration 2006-8, Research Director in the Politics Department 2008-9, and Head of Department 2010-15. He is currently Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences and director of the Research Centre for Social Sciences, and is a member of the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre Academic Quality Committee. Matthew has been an editor of Political Studies and Political Studies Review and a member of the Executive Committee of the Political Studies Association.

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



Matthew Festenstein has researched and published widely in political theory and the history of political thought. His work has particularly focused on the character and significance of pragmatism for political theory and the politics of cultural diversity. Beyond this he has published on issues in free speech, trust, expertise, and political epistemology. 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). He has been the PI on grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and British Academy.


Matthew has successfully supervised PhD students writing dissertations on deliberative and associative democracy; theories of subjectivity in contemporary political philosophy; democratic self-determination and the case for open borders; realism and deliberative democracy; sexual minorities in multicultural theory; liberalism, multiculturalism and community. Current students include:

Benjamin Chwistek, Violent critiques of liberalism: Georges Sorel, Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin
Adam Fusco, Towards a Democratic-Republican Account of Self-Determination
Hannah Kershaw, Multiculturalism, Culture and Controversy: Literary Representations of Muslims in Contemporary Multicultural Britain

External activities


Matthew Festenstein has been an editor of Political Studies and of Political Studies Review, and a member of the Political Studies Association Executive Committee. He has also been an external examiner for doctoral degrees in the Politics and Philosophy departments of the universities of Cambridge, Exeter, Hull, LSE, Melbourne, Oxford, Sheffield, Newcastle, KwaZulu Natal, ANU, and Royal Holloway, and for undergraduate programmes at Southampton, London, and Cambridge. Matthew is a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Charles S. Peirce Society and on the editorial board of Global Discourse.

Contact details

Professor Matthew Festenstein
Department of Politics
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 323573

Feedback and Guidance hours, (Autumn term) Tuesdays 11:00-12:00 & Fridays 14:00-15:00