Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Political Theory Prize


2023 – Maxime Lepoutre

Maxime LepoutreIn its third year, the Political Theory Prize has been awarded to Maxime Lepoutre of the University of Reading for his book Democratic Speech in Divided Times (Oxford University Press, 2021).

Maxime Lepoutre's research lies at the intersection of political philosophy, social epistemology, and philosophy of language, and is devoted to exploring the norms that should govern democratic public discourse in contexts marked by deep divisions. 

In an ideal democracy, people from all walks of life would come together to talk meaningfully and respectfully about politics. But we do not live in an ideal democracy. In contemporary democracies, which are marked by deep social divisions, different groups for the most part avoid talking to each other. And when they do talk to each other, their speech often seems to be little more than a vehicle for rage, hatred, and deception.

Democratic Speech in Divided Times argues that we should nevertheless not give up on the ideal of democratic public speech. Drawing on the resources of political theory, epistemology, and philosophy of language, this book develops a sustained account of the norms that should govern public discourse in deeply divided circumstances.

From our Jury: 'This work is a fascinating book dealing with the complexity of democratic deliberative discourse in contemporary society. The jury welcomes the major contribution of the book to political theory, but also prizes the capacity of the author to work at the overlap between epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, psychology, sociology, and political science.'

Read full laudation 

We have created this short video to celebrate Maxime's achievement and to share his work with our community.

2022 – Sinja Graf

Sinja GrafIn its second year, the Political Theory Prize has been awarded to Sinja Graf of the London School of Economics and Political Science for her book The Humanity of Universal Crime: Inclusion, Inequality, and Intervention in International Political Thought (Oxford University Press, 2021). 

Sinja Graf’s research combines international political theory, international law and imperial studies to analyse mobilisations of normative universals for arguments about order, justice and the (il-)legitimacy of violence in international politics in (post-)colonial contexts.

The international crime of 'crimes against humanity' has become integral to contemporary political and legal discourse. However, the conceptual core of the term—an act against all of mankind—has a longer and deeper history in international political thought. In an original excavation of this history, The Humanity of Universal Crime examines theoretical mobilisations of the idea of universal crime in colonial and post-colonial contexts.

From our Jury: 'The main argument is particularly captivating and intriguing – the author argues that there is a 'political productivity of crime' in the sense that the humanity of some offenders is prominently (and sometimes exclusively) secured through their subjection to criminal law (and criminal trials in particular).'

 Read full laudation 

We have created this short video to celebrate Sinja’s achievement and to share her work with our community.

2021 – Chiara Cordelli

Chiara CordelliOur inaugural prize for the best first English-language book of Political Theory has been awarded to Chiara Cordelli, for her book The Privatized State, published by Princeton University Press in 2020.

Chiara Cordelli is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. She works in social and political philosophy, with a particular interest in theories of justice, political legitimacy, normative defences of the state, the public/private distinction in liberal theory, and the ethics of philanthropy and assistance.

The Privatized State deals with the fact that many governmental functions today—from the management of prisons and welfare offices to warfare and financial regulation—are outsourced to private entities. Education and health care are funded in part through private philanthropy rather than taxation. Can a privatized government rule legitimately? This book argues that it cannot, showing how privatization undermines the very reason political institutions exist in the first place, and advocates for a new way of administering public affairs that is more democratic and just.

From our Jury: 'Jury members were particularly impressed by the clarity and analytical subtlety by which [Cordelli] unfolds a theory of legitimacy in the privatized state. The book combines practical philosophy with elements of histography and policy analysis to produce a highly original contribution to modern political theory.' Read the full laudation.

In light of this year's award having been presented to Chiara virtually, we have created a short video to capture this special moment.