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Paul Sagar read PPE at Balliol College, Oxford before taking an MA in Intellectual History and the History of Political Thought from the University of London. He completed his doctorate at the University of Cambridge, where from 2014-2018 he was Junior Research Fellow in Politics at King’s College. He joined the Department of Political Economy in January 2018. In September 2020 he received the British and Irish Association for Political Theory Early Career Award for outstanding contributions to research and teaching.

Paul is a commissioning editor of Past Meets Present, a forum for the engagement of intellectual history with contemporary issues, hosted by the Institute of Intellectual History at St Andrew's University. He is also a keen rock climber, and is currently serving as President of the North London Mountaineering Club.

Click here to view Dr Paul Sagar's personal website.

Office hours

Thursdays: 11.30-12.30

Fridays: 11.30-12.30


Paul Sagar works in the history of political thought and contemporary political theory. His first monograph, The Opinion of Mankind: Sociability and the State from Hobbes to Smith, explores Enlightenment accounts of the foundations of politics, whilst also addressing contemporary issues regarding how to conceive of the state, and what that means for normative political theory today. His second monograph, Adam Smith Reconsidered: History, Liberty and the Foundations of Modern Politics continues this line of research, and will be published with Princeton University Press in May 2022. He has also published a number of studies on topics such as: the political thought of Bernard Williams, so-called ‘realist’ approaches to political philosophy, the nature of liberty under conditions of modernity, and the idea of immortality. He is currently working on a short monograph defending the idea of ‘basic’ equality, as well as a larger research project on conceptions of the enemy in the history of political thought.

As well as his academic writings, Paul also writes for more popular audiences. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement,, and The Political Quarterly.

Selected Publications

For open access copies please see profile on Pure.


- The Opinion of Mankind: Sociability and the Theory of the State from Hobbes to Smith (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018)
- Adam Smith Reconsidered: Liberty, History, and the Foundations of Modern Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2022)

Edited Collections

- Interpreting Adam Smith: Critical Essays (under contract with Cambridge University Press)
- István Hont and Political Theory: Special Issue of the European Journal of Political Theory (17:4), 2018, co-edited with Dr Christopher Brooke

Research Papers

- ‘On the Liberty of the English: Adam Smith’s Reply to Montesquieu and Hume’ – Political Theory (forthcoming)
- 'Between Virtue and Knavery: Hume and the Politics of Moderation' - Journal of Politics 2021 (83:3): pp. 1097-1113.
- ‘Adam Smith’s Genealogy of Religion’ – History of European Ideas 2021 (47:7): pp. 1061-1078
- 'Adam Smith and the Conspiracy of the Merchants' - Global Intellectual History 2021 (6:4): pp. 463-483
- 'Liberty, Nondomination, Markets' - The Review of Politics 2019 (81:3), pp. 409-34.
- 'Bhishma's Boon: Reflections on the Complexity of Immortality' - The Journal of Value Inquiry 2019 (53:1), pp. 91-105.
- 'István Hont and Political Theory', European Journal of Political Theory 2018 (17:4), pp. 476-500.
- 'What is the Leviathan?', Hobbes Studies 2018 (31:2), pp. 75-92.
- 'Smith and Rousseau, after Hume and Mandeville' - Political Theory 2018 (46:1), pp. 29-58.
- 'Legitimacy and Domination' in Politics Recovered: Realist Thought in Theory and Practice ed. Matt Sleat (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018).
- 'Beyond Sympathy: Smith's Rejection of Hume's Moral Theory' - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 2017 (25:4), pp. 681-705.
- 'The State Without Sovereignty: Authority and Obligation in Hume's Political Philosophy' - History of Political Thought2016 (37:2), pp. 271-305.
- 'From Scepticism to Liberalism: Bernard Williams, the Foundations of Liberalism, and Political Realism' - Political Studies 2016 (64:2), pp. 368-84.
- 'Of Mushrooms and Method: History and the Family in Hobbes's Science of Politics' - European Journal of Political Theory 2015 (14:1) pp. 98-117.
- 'Minding the Gap: Bernard Williams and David Hume on Living an Ethical Life' - Journal of Moral Philosophy 2014 (11:5) pp. 615-38.
- 'Sociability, Luxury, and Sympathy: The Case of Archibald Campbell' - History of European Ideas 2013 (39:6) pp. 791-814.

Review Articles

- ‘Perils of Party’, review of Max Skjönsberg, The Persistence of Party: Ideas of Harmonious Discord in Eighteenth Century Britain, in European Journal of Political Theory (forthcoming) 
- 'From Cicero to the Science of Man', review of Tim Stuart-Buttle, From Moral Theology to Moral Philosophy: Cicero and Visions of Humanity from Locke to Hume, in History of European Ideas 2021 (47:1), 168-74
- 'Back to Basics', review of Jeremy Waldron, One Another's Equals: The Basis of Human Equality and Andrea Sangiovanni, Humanity Without Dignity: Moral Equality, Respect, and Human Rights, in Contemporary Political Theory 18 (sup.3) (2019), 153-8.
- 'Burke Unboxed', review of David Bromwich, The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke: From the Sublime and Beautiful to American Independence and Richard Bourke, Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke, in Political Theory 2018 (46:2), 280-98.


PhD Supervision

Paul is currently receiving enquiries for doctoral supervision in the areas of early modern political thought (in particular David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Scottish Enlightenment), and in realist political theory broadly conceived. Interested candidates should contact him directly with a draft research proposal and CV.