Zuckert, Michael P. 1942–
ZUCKERT, Michael P. 1942–
ADDRESSES: Office—University of Notre Dame, 450 Decio Faculty Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Author, consultant, and educator. University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, professor of political science. Previously professor of political science at Carlton College; served as consultant to Public Broadcasting Service and U.S. Department of Education.
The Garden Died: An Interpretation of Locke's First Treatise, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1974.
Natural Rights and the New Republicanism, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1994.
The Natural Rights Republic: Studies in the Foundation of the American Political Tradition, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1996.
Launching Liberalism: On Lockean Political Philosophy, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2002.
(Editor, with Thomas S. Engeman) Protestantism and the American Founding, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 2004.
Editor, with wife, of journal Interpretation.
SIDELIGHTS: Michael P. Zuckert is an author and scholar of political science with a particular interest in the political philosophy of John Locke and other foundational philosophies of the United States. In his book The Natural Rights Republic: Studies in the Foundation of the American Political Tradition he provides a close analysis of the Declaration of Independence and the beliefs that it illustrates, with close attention to the political thought of Thomas Jefferson and the role of "natural rights." Zuckert emphasizes the role of liberalism in the founding document over classic republican and communitarian views. American Political Science Review contributor Robert Webking remarked that Zuckert "maintains and, indeed, further clarifies the basic importance of natural rights for Americans while suggesting that three alternative explanations of America may contribute something to the way Americans see themselves and political life." Christopher Wolfe, in a review for First Things, remarked that "Zuckert is very persuasive in making his case for the natural rights republic. His critiques of alternative views are particularly powerful. Zuckert confronts his opponents head-on, portraying them fairly, but then going … for the jugular." Wolf did question, however, "whether one can move from careful textual analysis of the Declaration and other major public documents to such a conclusive characterization of the nature of the American regime."
With Launching Liberalism: On Lockean Political Philosophy Zuckert offers a fresh look at seventeenth-century English philosopher Locke's writings and political philosophies in a collection of essays and lectures written over a twenty-five-year period. Reviewers noted that the structure of the book makes it less cohesive than it might have been if written as a single entity rather than a compilation. Barry Shain, in a review for Modern Age, wrote that "although the title suggests that the essays' focus is on liberalism, or at least on Locke's political philosophy, neither is the case…. [Locke] serves mainly as a portable backdrop for the particular concern of each essay." However, Thomas G. West, in a review for the Claremont Institute Web site, remarked that "the book's considerable merits confirm … that Zuckert … is one of the foremost Locke scholars of his generation." West particularly praised Zuckert's analysis of Locke's First Treatise and the chapter on Locke's analysis of language usage. He did take issue, how-ever, with Zuckert's assertion that Locke believed that self-ownership led to the concept of human beings bearing rights or moral responsibility toward each other. West wrote, "it is hard to see how each self's ownership of itself could ever generate a moral obligation, given Locke's strict definition of moral law. As Zuckert himself correctly points out, the only source of moral obligation that Locke recognizes is a law whose punishment is imposed by a lawgiver." However, these different potential interpretations of Locke's political beliefs are what keep the material interesting. Perspectives on Political Science reviewer Richard Boyd stated that "Zuckert's Locke emerges as altogether original in his ability to assimilate, and to be assimilated by, other accepted traditions of his day and after. It is precisely this aspect of Locke that makes him so puzzling and controversial."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Political Science Review, December, 1995, Edward J. Erier, review of Natural Rights and the New Republicanism, p. 1018; June 1998, Robert Webking, review of The Natural Rights Republic: Studies in the Foundation of the American Political Tradition, p. 453.
English Historical Review, April, 1997, Mark Goldie, review of Natural Rights and the New Republicanism, p. 476.
Ethics, January, 1999, review of The Natural Rights Republic, p. 493.
First Things, May, 1998, Christopher Wolfe, review of The Natural Rights Republic, p. 52; January, 2003, Joshua Mitchell, "In the Beginning Was the Word," p. 62.
Journal of Modern History, March, 1997, John Dunn, review of Natural Rights and the New Republicanism, p. 122.
Modern Age, fall, 2003, Barry Shain, "Locke and Liberal Origins," p. 366.
Perspectives on Political Science, summer, 1998, Eduardo A. Velasquez, review of The Natural Rights Republic, p. 162; spring, 2003, Richard Boyd, review of Launching Liberalism: On Lockean Political Philosophy, p. 119.
Review of Metaphysics, June, 1998, Roger Paden, review of The Natural Rights Republic, p. 968.
Claremont Institute Web site, http://www.claremont.org/ (July 26, 2005), Thomas G. West, "Nature and Happiness in Locke."
University of Notre Dame Web site, http://www.nd.edu/ (July 26, 2005), "Michael P. Zuckert."