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Professor Matthew Festenstein



Matthew Festenstein (BA Cambridge, PhD Cambridge) taught at the Universities of Hull and Sheffield, before arriving as Professor of Political Philosophy at York.

Here he has been Director of the Morrell Centre for Toleration, Research Director in the Department of Politics and International Relations, and Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations.

He has also been Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences and director of the Research Centre for Social Sciences, and PI of York’s Economic and Social Research Council Impact Accelerator Account.

Matthew has been an editor of Political Studies and Political Studies Review (with Martin Smith) and a member of the Executive Committee of the Political Studies Association.

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  



Matthew Festenstein has researched and published widely in political theory. 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 trust, expertise, free speech, and political epistemology and on deliberative democracy. 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. He is currently working on a book on John Dewey’s political philosophy and a project on democratic theories of emergency.


Matthew has extensive experience in successfully supervising PhD students, including interdisciplinary projects. His students have researched a wide range of topics, including 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; John Dewey and democratic education; literary representations of Muslims in contemporary British fiction; political philosophies of myth and violence; republicanism and national self-determination; workplace democracy; Hannah Arendt and constituent power; and conspiracy theory and representative democracy. 



Matthew has taught a wide range of courses in political theory and the history of political thought, including interdisciplinary courses with other social sciences and humanities disciplines. Current modules include Democracy and Emergency, Critical Theory, and Political Research and Analysis.

External activities


Matthew Festenstein has been an editor of Political Studies and of Political Studies Review (with Martin Smith)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. He has chaired the Academic Quality and Training Committees the Economic and Social Research Council White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership and the Steering Group of the ESRC DTP Wales. He is a strategic reviewer for the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Matthew Festenstein

Contact details

Professor Matthew Festenstein
Department of Politics and International Relations
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 323573

Feedback and Guidance hours, Semester 2:    Mondays 10:00-11:00 and Thursdays 15:00-16:00