University of Calgary

Joshua D. Goldstein

  • Associate Professor


I hold a PhD from the University of Toronto in the history of Western political thought. I grew up in Winnipeg, and am very happy to call Calgary home.

I research and teach in the area of political philosophy, mainly in the Western tradition. My work has come to orbit around three foundational main concerns:

  • Freedom, or the particularly modern question of how we construct individual lives and political communities which can truly be our own. Here, I am particularly interested in the answers which Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, and especially G.W.F. Hegel provide for helping us today think through the nature of autonomy.

  • Sexual ethics, or the historically perennial question of the relationship of our bodies, love, friendship, sex, and marriage to the good life. I am especially interested in three different traditions to answering these crucial questions: the ancient Greeks on relationships (Platonic erōs and Aristotelian philia), the moderns on embodied existence (the extent to the body and the family are proper domains of autonomy), and contemporary theory (particularly, the possibilities within New Natural Law Theory for thinking in more generous ways the integrated self).

  • Philosophizing violence, or the problem of understanding and locating the intrinsic possibilities for violence that different shapes of consciousness and different shapes of community may uniquely create and unleash.

I am currently working on two research projects:

  • Hegel and the Family: This is a book project which brings together interest in freedom and sexual ethics to explore Hegel’s account of the proper shape and actualization of love and embodiment. It includes Hegel’s engagement with the ancient world as well as develops a unique account of where the significance of his account of the ethical family lies for freedom.

    Works in progress:
    • "Hegel and the Reasons the Family can Give to the State: Freedom, Love, and the Pleasant Tragedy of Embodiment"
    • "Five Models of the family-State Relation in the History of Western Political Thought"
    • "The Problem of Platonic Eros in Hegel's Account of Ethical Love or: What do you love when you love your spouse?"
    • "The Problem of Sex for Freedom in Rousseau, Sex, and Hegel"
  • Oddities of Violence: This is a SSHRC funded edited book project and workshop with Dr. Maureen Hiebert and Dr. Gavin Cameron at the University of Calgary. It brings together philosophers and experts in genocide and terrorism from around the world to explore cases and theories of violence at three junctures in human history (what we call, genesis, archetype, and novelty). The purpose of the project is to illuminate the existing boundaries of theorizing violence and expand the empirical and philosophic resources for go beyond those boundaries.


Hegel’s Idea of the Good Life: From Virtue to Freedom, Early Writings and Mature Political Philosophy (Studies In German Idealism series, vol. 7) (Dordrecht: Springer, 2006). xxiii, 261 pp.

‘Hegel’s Metaphysics of Marriage: Teleology, Ontology, and Sexually Embodied Freedom in the Philosophy of Right’s Account of the Family,’ in Michael J. Thompson (ed.), Hegel’s Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Politics (Routledge, 2018): 252–285.
‘Was It Good For You Too? The New Natural Law Theory and the Paradoxical Good of Sexbots’,  in John Danaher and Neil McArthur (eds.), Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017): 173–200.

(co-author, Maureen S. Hiebert) ‘Strange Legacies of the Terror: Hegel, the French Revolution, and the Khmer Rouge Purges’, The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms, vol. 21, no. 2, 2016: 145–167.

(second author, Robin Blake) ‘A (Reconstructed) New Natural Law Account of Sexuate Selfhood and Rape’s Harm’, The Heythrop Journal, vol. 56, 2015: 734–750.

‘Hegel and the Paradox of Democratic Education’, The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms, vol. 18, no. 3, June 2013: 308–326.

‘Rescuing New Natural Law Theory: From Absolute Values to a Theory of Autonomy’, Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol. 45, no. 2, June 2012: 451–472.

‘New Natural Law Theory and the Grounds of Marriage: Friendship and Self-Constitution’, Social Theory and Practice: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal of Social Philosophy, vol. 37, no. 3, July 2011: 461–482.

(co-author Gavin Cameron) ‘The Ontology of Modern Terrorism: Hegel, Terrorism Studies, and Dynamics of Violence’, Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, vol. 6, no. 1, 2010: 60–90.

‘The “Bees Problem” in Hegel’s Political Philosophy: Habit, Phronēsis and the Experience of the Good’, History of Political Thought, vol. XXV, no. 3, Autumn 2004: 481–507.

‘Hegel’s Early Conception of Human Nature in the Tübingen Essay of 1793’, Clio: A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History, vol. 32, no. 4, Summer 2003: 433–456.

I am happy to supervise students on theses that are on—or generally related to—the above themes. For the variety of topics my students have worked on, see the list of recent supervisions below:

Master's Theses

  • Zachary Pfeifer, TBD: The Origins of the Idea of the West in Montesquieu and Rousseau
  • Kelsey Gordon, She's At Home: Re-situating Women as Embdied Agency in Aristotle's and Hegel's Philosophy of Fulfilment.
  • Erica Kunimoto, Participatory Love: Exploring Non-Oppressive Relationality Through Plato, Hegel and Irigaray.
  • Joshua Haase, The Ontology of Marriage.
  • Robin Blake, Towards a Conception of Rape as a Violation of Constitutive Autonomy in Greek, Christian, and New Natural Law Theory.

Undergraduate Honours Theses (last five years)

  • William Gregson, ‘The "Path of Despair": Hegel, Madness, and the Sanity of Ethicality’ 
  • Zachary Pfeifer, ‘Unrest in the West: Burke, Kant, Hegel and the Foundations of Western Reconciliation’ 
  • Vagisha Agrawal, ‘Investigating the Harms of Rape through the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ (co-supervisor Dr. Gina Starblanket)
  • Kelsey Gordon, ‘The Discordance Between Truth and Art, or the Capacity to Create Beauty: Plato and Nietzsche’
  • Kathryn Verwaayen, ‘An Exploration of Hegel and Butler with a Focus on the Individual and Sexuality, Women and the Family’
  • Mark Grosjean, ‘Bordered Culture: Rawls and Migration in Europe’
  • Lucas Jerusalemiec, ‘Good Men and Good Citizens: Reconciling Prudence and Lawfulness’ (won the Department of Political Science Best Honours Thesis Award for 2015/16)
  • Holly Ellesworth Clark, ‘The Scope of our Obligations: Rawls and Singer’
  • Graham Rapson, ‘Contemporary Technology and the Ontological Underpinnings of Liberal Democracy: C.B. Macpherson’s Political Thought and the Debate over Big Data’


  • 2019 - SSHRC Connection Grant - SSHRC
  • 2017 - Student Union Teaching Excellence Award (Arts) — Nomination - Students' Union
  • 2016 - Student Union Teaching Excellence Award (Arts) — Nomination - Students' Union
  • 2015 - Student Union Teaching Excellence Award (Arts) — Nomination - Students' Union
  • 2013 - Students' Union Teaching Excellence Award — Faculty of Arts 2013-14 - Students' Union
  • 2010 - Killam Enhancement Award - Killiam
  • 2006 - Faculty of Social Sciences Distinguished Teacher Award - Univeristy of Calgary
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