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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)



Revolution, regime collapse and reconstruction, the history, current development and future of democracy, and the globalization of the history of political thinking.


Key publications: 

Setting the People Free book cover

  • Breaking Democracy's Spell (Yale University Press, 2014)

Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy (London: Atlantic Books, 2005).

The Cunning of Unreason: Making Sense of Politics (London: Harper Collins, 2000).

The History of Political Theory and Other Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Western Political Theory in the Face of the Future, 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993).

Modern Revolutions: An Introduction to the Analysis of a Political Phenomenon, 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

The Politics of Socialism: An Essay in Political Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).

The Political Thought of John Locke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969).

Other publications: 

The Political Thought of John Locke, Cambridge University Press 1969 repr. 1975; pb 1982, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1995, 2000; Italian translation Il Mulino, Bologna 1992; French translation, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 1991), 267 pp

2. Modern Revolutions: an introduction to the analysis of a  political phenomenon, CUP 1972 (pb). (repr.1972, 1974,1985. 2nd edition (with new Introduction) 1989, reprinted 1990, 1994. XXIX + 294 pp. German translation Verlag Reclam, Stuttgart 1974. Japanese translation Chuo University Press,
Tokyo 1978; Ch 1 reprinted in Marc Williams (ed), International Relations in the Twentieth Century: A Reader,Macmillan: London 1989, 139-56

3. (with Dr. A. F. Robertson) Dependence and Opportunity: political change in Ahafo, CUP 1974, 386 pp

4. (editor and contributor) West African States: Failure and Promise; a study in comparative politics, CUP 1978 (pb), (repr. 1979, 198O, 1987) 1-21+211-216

5. Western Political Theory in the Face of the Future, CUP 1979, (pb), repr. 198O, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1990. First Spanish translation Fondo de Cultura Economica, Mexico City 1981, reprinted 1986. Japanese translation Misuzu Shobo, Tokyo 1983. Italian translation, Feltrinelli, Milano 1983.) Second Edition, with new Conclusion, Cambridge University Press, Canto pb 1993, 137 pp., reprinted 2000; Chinese Translation arranged with Jilan People’s Publishing House:Beijing in 2005 , Spanish Translation Agonia del Pensamiento Politico Occidental, Cambridge University Press 1996. Cap 3 `Nationalism' reprinted in Ronald Beiner (ed) Studying Nationalism, State University of New York Press, Albany 1999, 27-50

6. Political Obligation in its Historical Context, CUP 198O; pb ed 2002 (includes articles 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 61 below)343 pp

7. Locke, Oxford University Press 1984 (pb) reprinted 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 89 pp. (reprinted with J. O. Urmson, Berkeley, and A J Ayer, Hume as The British Empiricists, Oxford 1992, reprinted 1996);
reissued with new material as Locke: A Very Short Introduction,(pb) Oxford University Press 2003, reprinted 2005, 2006;Japanese translation, Iwanami Shoten, Tokyo 1987; Chinese translation Linking Publishing Company,
Taiwan 1991; Hungarian translation, Atlantis, Budapest 1992; translation into Indonesian, PT Pustaka Utamo Grafiti, Jakarta 1994; translation arranged into Korean, Sigongsa:Seoul 2000; Greek translation, Patras University
Press: Patras 2002; Portugese translation, Edicoes Loyola:Sao Paolo 2003; Locke: A Very Short Introduction Translation arranged into Albanian, Ideart:Tirana, 2006; Translation arranged into Greek Ellinika Grammata/To

8. The Politics of Socialism: An Essay in Political Theory, CUP 1984 pb., reprinted 1986, 103 pp

9. Rethinking Modern Political Theory: Essays 1979-83, CUP 1985, pb reprinted 1986, 222 pp. (includes articles 9, 1O, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 43 below)

10. (editor and contributor) The Economic Limits to Modern 2 Politics, CUP 199O, pb ed 1992, reprinted 1999; pp. 1-40, 195-219. Korean translation, Young Joe Park, Seoul 1992, revised edition 1992

11. Editor and contributor, with Donal Cruise O'Brien and Richard Rathbone), pp. 181-192, Contemporary West African States, Cambridge University Press 1989 pb, reprinted 1992

12. Interpreting Political Responsibility: Essays 1981-89, Polity Press and Princeton University Press 199O (includes articles 17, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 24 below). 263 pp. (Cap 5,`La Libertad como valor politico sustantivo, printed in
Spanish translation in Luis Castro Leiva (ed), El Liberalismo como problema, Monte Avila Editores, Caracas 1992, 41-67)

13. Storia delle dottrine politiche, Jaca Book, Milan 1992, reprinted 1992. French translation Editions Mentha, Paris 1992), 78 pp. (reprinted in Volume Politica, Enciclopedia d'Orientamento (Jaca Book, Milan 1994). Hungarian
translation in Ferenc Horcher (ed), The Cambridge View of Early Modern Political Thought, Tanulmany Kiado. Budapest 1996, 263-85.

14. (editor and contributor) Democracy: the unfinished journey Oxford University Press 1992, reprinted 1993, pb ed 1993,  reprinted 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001 pp. v-vii, 239-266.  (Translation into Spanish, Tusquets Editores, Barcelona  1995. Conclusion reprinted in French translation  Democratie: etat des lieux, La Pensee Politique, 1, 1993, 76-97.) Translation into Italian, Marsilio Editori, Venice 1995; Translation into Greek, Institut du Livre, Athens
1997). Translation into Hungarian, Akademiai Kiado, Budapest 1995. Translation into Chinese, Jilan’s People’s Publishing House: Beijing 2001.

15. (Editor and Contributor), Contemporary Crisis of the Nation State? Special Issue of Political Studies 1994; published as paperback book by Blackwell, Oxford, 1995)

16. The History of Political Theory and Other Essays, CUP 1995, 228 pp. (includes 13 and articles: 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 35, 60 and 62). [Chapter 1 reprinted in part in Alan Finlayson(ed), Contemporary Political Thought: A Reader’s Guide Edinburgh University Press 2003, 84-92

17. (ed with Dr Ian Harris) Great Political Thinkers, 21 vols, Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, 1997 (XIII-XVII pp.)

18. The Cunning of Unreason: Making Sense of Politics, Harper Collins:London & Basic Books:New York, 2000. Pb. London & New York 2001. ISBN:0-00-255647-2/0-465-01747-9/0-00- 686358-2/0-465-017747-0.

19. Pensare la Politica, Di Renzo Editore:Rome, 2002. ISBN 888323042-6

20. Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy Atlantic  Books:London 2005, pb ed 2006; Grove Atlantic:New York  2006; pb ed Penguin Canada:Toronto 2006. (Italian translation: Il Mito degli Uguali: la lunga storia della democrazia Egea:Milan 2006; translations arranged into Chinese, Shanghai Sinhui Culture and Press Ltd:Shanghai and Linking Publishing Company:Taipei; translation arranged into Arabic, Obeikan Books:Riyadh)
1. Consent in the political theory of John Locke', The Historical Journal, X, 2, 1967, 153-82. (repr. in G. 3 Schochet ed., Life, Liberty and Property: essays on Locke's Political Philosophy, Belmont, Calif., 1971; and in Richard
Ashcraft (ed), John Locke: Critical Assessments, Routledge, London 1991, Vol 3, 524-66)

2. `Justice and the Interpretation of Locke's Political Theory', Political Studies, XVI, 1, 1968, 68-87 (reprinted in Richard Ashcraft (ed), John Locke: Critical Assessments, Routledge, London 1991, Vol 3, 43-63). Reprinted in Patrick Dunleavy & Paul Kelly (eds), British PoliticalScience: Fifty Years of Political Studies, Oxford: Blackwell 2000, 25-32

3. `The Identity of the History of Ideas', Philosophy, XLIII, April 1968, 85-1O4 (repr. in P. Laslett, W. Runciman and Q. Skinner eds., Philosophy, Politics and Society, Fourth Series, Blackwells, Oxford 1972) (Italian translation Filosofia Politica (Bologna), II, 1988). Spanish Translation in Ambrosio Velasco Gomez (ed), Resorgimento de la Teoria Politica en el Siglo xx: filosofia, historica y
tradicion, National Autonomous University of Mexico 1999, 195-220

4. `The Politics of Locke in England and America in the Eighteenth Century' in J. W. Yolton ed., John Locke: Problems and Perspectives, CUP 1969, 45-80

6. `The Eligible and the Elect: Arminian thoughts on the social predestination of Ahafo Leaders' in W. H. Morris-Jones ed., The Making of Politicians: Studies from Africa and Asia, Athlone Press, University of London 1976,

7. `The Success and Failure of Modern Revolutions', in S. Bialer and S. Sluzar eds., Radicalism in the Contemporary Age, vol. 3 (Studies of the Research Institute on International Change, Columbia University), Westview Press,
Boulder, Colorado 1977, 82-114, 3O5-18
8. `Practising History and Social Science on "realist" assumptions', in C. Hookway and P. Pettit eds., Action and Interpretation; studies in the philosophy of the social sciences, CUP 1978, 145-75 pb 198O. German translation W. de Gruyter, Berlin 1982

9. `Individuality and Clientage in the Formation of Locke's Social Imagination' in Reinhard Brandt ed., John Locke: Symposium Wolfenbuttel 1979, W. de Gruyter, Berlin and New
York 1981, 43-73

10. `Understanding Revolutions', Ethics, XCII, 2, January 1982,299-315. Korean translation in Lee Shinhaeng (ed), A New Trend in Political Change, Hyungsung Press, Seoul 1992, 71-102

11. `Social Theory, Social Understanding and Political Action', in A. C. Lloyd ed., Social Theory and Political Practice, (Wolfson Lectures 1981), Oxford University Press, 1983,

12. `Country Risk: Social and Cultural Aspects' in Richard J. Herring ed., Managing International Risk (Wharton School Centennial Conference Papers), CUP 1983, 138-67, reprinted 1984, pb 1986

13. `From Applied Theology to Social Analysis: the break 4 between John Locke and the Scottish Enlightenment', in Istvan Hont and Michael Ignatieff (eds), Wealth and Virtue: the shaping of political economy in the Scottish
Enlightenment, CUP 1983, 119-35, pb 1985, Japanese translation, 1990; chapter reprinted in Hungarian translation in Ferenc Horcher (ed), The Cambridge View of Early Modern Political Thought, Tanulmany Kiado, Budapest
1996, 193-208

14. `The Concept of Trust in the Political Theory of John Locke', in Richard Rorty, J. B. Schneewind and Quentin Skinner (eds), Philosophy in History, CUP 1984, reprinted 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1993, 279-3O1

15. `Totalitarian Democracy and the Legacy of Modern Revolutions: Explanation or Indictment?', Totalitarian Democracy and After, Israel Academy of Arts and Sciences, Magnes Press, Jerusalem 1984, 37-55 (2nd ed, ed Michael Burleigh, London:Frank Cass 2001)

16. The Future of Political Philosophy in the West', Shiso(Tokyo), November 1984, 24-49 (in Japanese translation)

17. `The Politics of Representation and Good Government in Postcolonial Africa', in Patrick Chabal (ed), The Politics of Domination in Modern Africa, CUP 1986, 158-74, 2OO-O5

18. `Defining a Defensible Socialism for Britain today', in Peter Nolan & Suzanne Paine (eds), Rethinking Socialist Economics, Polity Press, Cambridge 1986, 35-52

19. `Unger's Politics and the Appraisal of Political Possibility', Northwestern University Law Review, LXXXI, 4, Summer 1987, 732-5O (reprinted in Robin W Lovin and Michael J. Perry (eds), Critique and Construction: A Symposium on
Roberto Unger's Politics, CUP 1990, pp 71-89)

20. `Trust and Political Agency', in Diego Gambetta (ed), Trust: Making and Breaking Cooperative Relations, Basil Blackwell, Oxford 1988, 73-93, pb ed 1990; (ItalianTranslation, Einaudi, Turin, 199O)

21. `Rights and Political Conflict' in Larry Gostin (ed), Civil Liberties in Conflict, Tavistock Publishers, London 1988, 21-38

22. `Revolution' in Terence Ball, James Farr and Russell Hanson (eds), Political Innovation and Conceptual Change,Cambridge University Press 1988, 1995, 333-51

23. `"Bright enough for all our purposes": John Locke's Conception of a Civilised Society', Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 43, 1989, 133-53 (reprinted in John R Milton (ed), Locke=s Moral, Political and Legal Philosophy,
Ashgate, Ashgate Press: Aldershot 1999, 315-35)

24. `Responsibility without Power: States and the Incoherence of the Modern Conception of the Political Good', (in Italian), Teoria Politica, VI, 1, 1990. 3-25 (Turin)

25. `Freedom of Conscience: Freedom of Thought, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship?' in O. P. Grell, Jonathan Israel and Nicholas Tyacke (ed), From Persecution to Toleration, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1991, 171-93; German translation, in Martyn P. Thompson (ed), Locke und Kant,
'Lockes Konzeption von Toleranz', Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1991, 16-39; Italian translation, 'Le Tre Liberta: il principe della toleranza come liberta di parola, dipensiero o di Culto' Prometeo, December 1991, 6-17; French
translation: 'L'exigence de liberte de conscience: liberte 5 de parole, liberte de pensee, liberte de culte', Philosophie, 37, 1993, 64-88; partially reprinted in Paul E.Sigmund(ed), The Selected Political Writings of John Locke: A Norton Critical Edition W W Norton & co:New York 2005, 366-69

26. `Political Obligation', in David Held (ed), Political Theory Today, Polity Press 1991, pp 23-47 Estonian translation forthcoming in Juri Lipping (ed) Contemporary Political Philosophy, EYS Veljesto Press: Tartu

27. `Property, Justice and Common Good after Socialism' in J A Hall and I C Jarvie (eds), The Transition to Modernity: Essays in Honour of Ernest Gellner,Cambridge University Press 1992 281-96

28. `Specifying and Understanding Racism' (Determinare e Capire il Razzismo) in Girolamo Mbruglia (ed), Il Razzismo, e lesue storie, Naples 1992 (in Italian translation), 13-28; English edition, `Paradoxes of Racism', Government and
Opposition, 28, 4, Autumn 1993 512-25

29. `Political Science, Political Theory and Policy-making in an Interdependent World', Government and Opposition, 28, 2, Spring 1993, 242-60

30. `The Identity of the Bourgeois Liberal Republic', in Biancamaria Fontana (ed), The Invention of the ModernRepublic, Cambridge University Press 1994, 206-25 (Reprinted 1997)

31. `Democracy: The Politics of Making, Defending and Exemplifying Community: Europe 1992', in Takashi Kato (ed), The Future of Democracy in Asia, Tokyo University Press, Tokyo 1993 (in Japanese translation); in Spanish
translation in Revista Internacional de Filosofia Politica, I, April 1993, 21-39

32. `Social Contract', Enciclopedia delle scienze sociali, Instituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana: Rome (in Italian translation), Vol 2, 1992, 404-17

33. `The Heritage and Future of the European Left', Economy and
Society, November 1993, 516-24, Swedish translation:Smedgan, 4, October 1993, 18-23; reprinted in R.Viale(ed), What is Left ? La Rosa Editrice:Turin 1998, 25-38)

34. `The Nation State and Human Community: Obligation, Life Chances and the Boundaries of Society' (Italian translation, Edizioni Anabasi, Milan 1994)

35. `The Dilemma of Humanitarian Intervention: the Executive Power of the Law of Nature after God', Government and Opposition, 29, 2, Spring 1994, 248-61 (Italian translation, Ragion Pratica, 2, 1994, 200-214)

36. Conclusion, in Tony Saich and Hans Van de Ven (eds), Essays
on the Chinese Communist Revolution, M. E. Sharpe: White
Plains 1994, pp 388-99

37. How Democracies Succeed, in Sung Chul Yang (ed), Democracy and Communism: Theory, Reality and the Future, Korean Association of International Studies, Seoul 1995 41-66. (reprinted in Economy and Society, 25, 1996, 511-28)

38. `Hope over Fear: Judith Shklar as Liberal Educator, in Bernard Yack (ed), Liberalism without Illusions, University of Chicago Press 1996 45-54 6

39. The Contemporary Political Significance of John Locke's Conception of Civil Society, Iyyun (Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly), 45, July 1996, 103-24, reprinted in Sudipta Kaviraj and Sunil Khilnani (eds), Civil Society: History
and Possibilities, CUP 2001, 39-57.

40. The Transcultural Significance of Athenian Democracy, in Michel Sakellariou (ed), Démocratie Athénienne et Culture,Academy of Athens 1996, 97-108

41. `Does Separatism Threaten the State System?' and `Conclusion' in Trude Andresen, Beate Bull et al (eds). Separatism, Bergen:Ch. Michelson Institute. 1997, 130-45, 167-72

42. `The Construction of the Principle of Toleration and its Implications for Contemporary States' in Young Seek Choue and Jae Shik Sohn (eds) Tolerance, Restoration of Morality and Humanity, Institute of International Peace Studies, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 1996, 299-324

43. `Asian Culture and Democratic Potential: a Western View' in Jong Yil Ra (ed), Democratization and Regional Cooperation in Asia, Kim Dae-Jung Peace Foundation, Seoul 1996, 83-111

44. `Situating Democratic Accountability', in Adam Przeworski, Susan C Stokes & Bernard Manin (eds), Democracy, Accountability and Representation, 329-44, Cambridge University Press 1999, Italian translation `Responsibilità
politica e democrazia' Ragion Pratica 7, 1997, 183-193

45. How Politics limits markets: Power, Legitimacy, Choice=, in Samuel Bowles, Maurizio Franzini & Ugo Pagano (eds), The Politics and Economics of Power, London:Routledge 1999, 85-100

46. Democracy, Globalization and Human Interests, Il Politico, LX111, 3, 1998, 353-74

47. Politics and the Well-Being of Future Generations, in Ross Harrison (ed), The Self and Future Generations, White Horse Press, Cambridge 1999, 70-81

48. Democracy and Development, in Ian Shapiro & Casimir Hacker-Cordon (eds), Democracy=s Value, Cambridge University Press 1999, 132-140

49. The Debate on Big Government: the View from Western Europe, in Politics at the Turn of the Century, ed Arthur A. Melzer, Jerry Weinberger & M.Richard Zinman, Rowman & Littlefield, 2001,192-208

50. The Emergence into Politics of Global Environmental Change, in Ted Munn(ed), Encyclopaedia of Global Environmental Change, John Wiley: London 2002,Vol 5,124-36

51. Japan’s Road to Political Paralysis: A Democratic Hope Mislaid (Third Maruyama Memorial Lecture, Center ofJapanese Studies,University of California, Berkeley, Occasional Papers, 2, 2002 Two Lectures by John Dunn:
Japanese Translation, Shiso,June 2002 (938), 4-26 (Iwanami
Shoten, 2002)

52. Subject to the Sphinx:Capitalist Democracy as Solution and
Enigma, CJS,Berkeley, Occasional Papers 2, 2002 Two
Lectures by John Dunn. (Chinese translation: Why Has
Democracy Won ?), Societas, 1,(June 2002:Taipei), 151-75. 7

53. Autonomy’s Sources and the Impact of Globalisation, in Ludvig Beckman & Emil Uddhammar(eds), Virtues of Independence and Dependence on Virtue, Transaction Press,NJ:2003, 47-61

54. Measuring Locke’s Shadow, in Ian Shapiro(ed), Locke’s Letter on Toleration and Two Treatises of Government, Yale University Press: New Haven 2003, 257-83

55. The Aftermath of Communism and the Vicissitudes of Public Trust, in Ivana Markova(ed), Trust and Post-CommunistTransition, Proceedings of The British Academy, 123, (2004), 195-209

56. What History Can Show: Jeremy Waldron’s Reading of Locke’s Christian Politics, Review of Politics, 67,3, 2005, 433-50. Tracing the Cunning of Unreason, (Chinese Translation), Reflexion, 2, June 2006, 53-71 (Taipei:Linking Books)

58 Understanding Revolution, in John Foran, David Lane & Andreja Zivkovic(eds) Understanding Revolution: Social Identities, Globalisation and Modernity London:Routledge 2007

59. Capitalist Democracy: Elective Affinity or Beguiling Illusion?, Daedalus, July 2007

Teaching and Supervisions


Undergraduate supervision in history of political thought and aspects of comparative politics, 3rd year dissertations

Emeritus Professor
Kings College
Office hours: Appointment by email
Prof John  Dunn

Contact Details
01223 767 263