So it’s been a complex six months or so, but my family and I have finally decided that we are moving to Chicago next summer, where I will take up a Chair at the University of Chicago Law School and Direct Chicago’s new Center for Law, Philosophy, & Human Values, which will support “the reflective, critical and philosophical study of human values, with a particular emphasis on the conceptual, historical, and empirical foundations of the normative systems—moral, political, and legal—in which human beings live.” In addition, my treasured part-time colleague here at UT, Leslie Green (who is now Professor of the Philosophy of Law at Oxford) will switch his visiting professor stint from Texas to Chicago, starting in 08-09.
This has been such a difficult decision because of my great colleagues in the Law School at Texas, and the tremendous support from our wonderful Dean, Larry Sager, and our former Dean and now UT President, Bill Powers. The University of Texas School of Law has been an extraordinarily stimulating place to teach and write about law and philosophy for the past dozen years. The University of Chicago Law School is, of course, renowned as the leading center for law and economics in the country, and now, with the generous support of Saul Levmore, the Chicago Law Dean, and my new colleagues there—especially Martha Nussbaum--I am hopeful we will be able to make Chicago as strong a presence in law and philosophy and, in particular, make Chicago the top choice for philosophically-minded law students, especially those thinking of teaching careers.
Martha Nussbaum and I will continue to offer the Law and Philosophy Workshop at Chicago (which students take for credit); sometimes we will do it jointly, sometimes just one of us will do it with the new Law and Philosophy Fellow that the Law School will host each year. I’ll be offering a basic jurisprudence course every year (similar to what I do here), as well as a new course covering from a philosophical point of view topics in moral, political, and social theory of interest to lawyers and legal scholars. Martha and I will both continue to offer a variety of seminars on topics in moral, political, and legal philosophy, as will Les Green when he visits each year, and the new Center will sponsor additional speakers and conferences. I suppose the main thing that will distinguish Chicago from the other leading law-and-philosophy centers in the country is that Chicago will have both a stronger historical orientation than is typical among those working in law and philosophy (whether it is attention to Aristotle or Mill or Marx or Nietzsche) and a more interdisciplinary conception of philosophical work. Interested students should feel free to contact me.
The attractions of Chicago are, of course, substantial: the city itself is one of our favorite ones in the US; Hyde Park is transformed from twenty years ago, when I last spent substantial time there (but it still has great new and used book stores!); the University’s Lab School for our children was a significant attraction, as was the college tuition benefit; and the Law School is, with Yale’s (where I visited almost a decade ago), one of the most intellectually engaged communities of faculty and students in American legal education. The law schools at Yale and Chicago are probably most like graduate school in a PhD discipline among American law schools, so a particularly welcome environment for a scholar with my interests—especially since Chicago has also long been, depending upon the measure, one of the top three or four producers of new law teachers in the country. Dean Levmore also deserves credit for turning Chicago’s quarter system to the advantage of the Law School, and establishing one of the most attractive teaching loads of any law school of which I’m aware. The University as a whole is notable for the ease with which faculty and students cross disciplinary boundaries in their teaching and research, and there are several scholars I already know in other units at Chicago whom I very much admire, like Michael Forster (one of the preeminent scholars of German philosophy of the 18th- and 19th-centuries in the English-speaking world) and Jonathan Lear, who wrote a splendid volume on Freud in the Routledge Philosophers series I edit. I look forward to working with them and others in the years ahead.
I will deeply miss my many treasured colleagues and friends in Austin, as well as the laid-back Austin lifestyle. But we are excited and optimistic about what the future holds in Chicago. Thanks to all who have inquired and offered good wishes over the last several months.
UPDATE: A student writes with a point that deserves clarification (in the event this speaks to questions other prospective students have):
I have followed your blog a great deal recently, and was quite surprised and interested to find that you're moving to the University of Chicago. I am just about to submit my applications to graduate schools in philosophy, and UC just so happens to be one of my top choices. If you were to teach there, my interest would certainly increase. I'm not particularly interested in legal philosophy, but I love Nietzsche, and I was wondering if you plan to continue work and teaching on him and continental philosophy generally after your move to Chicago.
I will certainly continue to work on Nietzsche (and some other Continental figures), would welcome the opportunity to work with interested doctoral students in these areas, and will continue to include these figures in my teaching and in the work of the new Center. I expect to co-teach a seminar on figures in German philosophy (probably with an emphasis on moral and political philosophy) with Michael Forster if not in 08-09, then in 09-10. As noted above, an appealing features of the University of Chicago is the extent to which faculty and students cross disciplinary boundaries in their teaching and research. Please feel free to e-mail me with additional questions.