Two honours for ANU academic

21 September 2014

Distinguished Professor Philip Pettit has been recognised with two honours for his work in philosophy and political theory.

Professor Pettit has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens, while his new book On the People's Terms, won the Spitz Prize in liberal or democratic theory from International Committee for the Study of Political Thought.

"It is very encouraging, of course, that the new book has won this prize," Professor Pettit said.

"You never know how your scholarship will be received in the wider academic world, let alone in the public world, and I am very pleased at this initial recognition."

At the conferral ceremony in Athens, Professor Pettit, who holds a joint appointment at Princeton University, was cited for his work in political philosophy which included a book, Republicanism, written at the ANU in 1997.

"Being recognised in this way by a university certainly means getting to know colleagues there, and feeling welcome amongst them. And it certainly helps in building further academic relationships across institutions," Professor Pettit said.

Professor Pettit's book On the People's Terms develops a republican theory of democracy, built on the approach in the 1997 book. The point of democracy, he maintains, is to ensure that the law that defines and defends people's liberties is not imposed on people from above, but framed on terms that they dictate.

Asked about his current work, he said that he is preparing the text for some lectures in Berkeley in April 2015. These are the Tanner Lectures in Human Values and should eventually appear as a book.

"But that's not until at least two years down the track," Professor Pettit said.