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Max Pensky

Max Pensky

Professor of Philosophy

PhD Philosophy, Boston College, 1989

Office: LNG 100


Genocide Studies
Transitional Justice
Modern and Contemporary Social and Political Philosophy
Critical Theory
Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Philosophy of Law and International Relations

Recent courses

Essentials of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention
Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action
Transitional Justice
Rawls and His Critics
Contemporary Political Philosophy
Hegel's Philosophy of Right
Law and Justice

Recent and representative publications


Wendy Brown, Peter E. Gordon, and Max Pensky, Authoritarianism: Three Inquiries in Critical Theory, University of Chicago Press, 2018 | View on Amazon

The Ends of Solidarity: Discourse Theory in Ethics and Politics, SUNY Press 2008 | View on Amazon

Melancholy Dialectics: Walter Benjamin and the Play of Mourning, Massachusetts, 1992, Second Edition 2002 | View on Amazon



"Of Humanitarians and Straw Men: On Rajan Menon's The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention (review essay), Journal of Genocide Research 21.1, 2019.

"Critique and Disappointment," in Espen Hammer, Peter E. Gordon, and Max Pensky, editors, The Blackwell Handbook to Adorno, Blackwell, 2019.

"Impunity: A Philosophical Analysis," in Morten Bergsmo, editor, Philosophical Foundations of International Criminal Law, vol. 2, CILRAP Publishing, 2019.

"In Search of the Negative in Rahel Jaeggi's Kritik von Lebensformen," in Amy Allen and Eduardo Mendieta, editors, From Alienation to Forms of Life: The Critical Theory of Rahel Jaeggi, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018.

"Western Marxism: Revolutions in Theory," in Peter Gordon and Warren Breckman, Editors, The Cambridge History of Modern European Thought, 2019.

"Toward a Critical Theory of Death: Adorno on Dying Today," Journal of Adorno Studies 1.1, Spring 2016.

"Two Cheers for the Impunity Norm," Philosophy and Social Criticism, Winter-Spring 2016.

 "Amnesties and Jus Post Bellum," in Larry May, ed., Jus Post Bellum, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2013 | Download article (.pdf, 253kb)

"Anti-Dialectics: Arnold Gehlen and the Fate of Conservative Philosophical Anthropology in Germany," in Peter Hohendahl and Erhard Schuetz, eds., Konservative politische Kultur nach 1945 in Deutschland und in die USA, 2012

"Cosmopolitan Memory," in Gerard Delanty, ed., Routledge Handbook of Cosmopolitanism, Routledge, 2012

"Solidarity with the Past and the Work of Translation," in Eduardo Mendieta, Jonathan Van Antwerpen and Craig C. Calhoun, eds., Habermas and Religion, Polity Press, 2012 | Download article (.pdf, 184kb)

(with Mark Freeman) "The Amnesty Controversy in International Law," in Leigh Payne and Francesca Lessa, eds., Amnesty in the Age of Human Rights Accountability: Comparative and International Perspectives, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2012. Portuguese translation in Marcello Torelly et. al., eds., A Anistia na Era da Responsabilização – o Brasil em perspectiva internacional e comparada," Ministry of Justice of Brazil, 2011 | Download article (.pdf, 284kb)

"Three Kinds of Ruin: Heidegger, Benjamin, and Sebald," in Poligrafi, 2011 | Download article (.pdf, 134kb)

"Habermas's Intellectual Contexts," in Barbara Fultner, ed., Habermas: Basic Concepts, Acumen, 2011 | Download article (.pdf, xxkb)

"Social Solidarity and Intersubjective Recognition: Axel Honneth's Struggle for Recognition," in Danielle Petherbridge, ed., Axel Honneth: Critical Essays with a Reply by Axel Honneth, Brill, 2011, pp 125-154

"Critical Theory and World Politics," in D.S.A. Bell, editor, Ethics and World Politics, Oxford University Press, 2010, pp 35-55

"Contributions to a Theory of Storms: Historical Knowing and Historical Progress in Kant and Benjamin," The Philosophical Forum, vol. XLI, nos. 1 & 2, Spring/Summer 2010, pp 149-174 | Download article (.pdf, 122kb)

"Transition, Amnesty, and Social Trust: Lessons from South Africa," in Joseph Lewandowski, editor, Trust and Transitions: Social Capital in a Changing World, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009 | Download article (.pdf, 172kb)

"Pragmatism and Solidarity with the Past: Mead, Benjamin and the Ends of Memory," in Chad Kautzer and Eduardo Mendieta, editors, Pragmatism, Nation, and Race: Community in the Age of Empire, University of Indiana Press, 2009

"Critical Theory and the Politics of Memory," in Philosophy Today, Vol. 52, Fall 2008, 114-124

"Amnesty on Trial: Impunity, Accountability, and the Norms of International Law," in Ethics and Global Politics 1:1-2, June 2008 | Download article (.pdf, 238kb)

"Two Cheers for Cosmopolitanism: Cosmopolitan Solidarity as Second-Order Inclusion," in Journal of Social Philosophy Volume XXXVIII Number 1, Spring 2007, 165-185

"Geheimmittel: Dialectical and Advertising Images in Benjamin's Arcades Project", in Andrew Benjamin and Beatrice Hanssen, eds., Walter Benjamin Studies Vol. II: The Arcades Project, Continuum Press, 2007

"Solidarity as Fact or Norm?" in Philosophy and Social Criticism 32:7, Fall 2006

"Dreamtime, Memory, Destruction: Walter Benjamin's Urban Renewal," in Cities Spring-Summer 2005

"Natural History: the Life and Afterlife of a Concept in Adorno," in Critical Horizons, Vol. 2:5, 2005. Reprinted in Danielle Petherbridge, editor, Contemporary Perspectives in Critical Social Philosophy, Brill 2005

"Benhabib's Claims: Multicultural Democracy and Critical Social Theory" in Constellations 11:4, June 2004, pp. 258-265

"Method and Time: Walter Benjamin's Dialectical Images," in David Ferris, editor, The Cambridge Companion to Walter Benjamin, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 177-198 | Download article (.pdf, 111kb)

Curriculum vitae

Download CV (.pdf, 286kb)

Last Updated: 4/18/19