University of Calgary

Joshua D. Goldstein

  • Associate Professor


I am a political theorist working both in the history of political thought as well as engaging with areas in contemporary political philosophy.

Within the history of political thought, my primarly interest is the political thought of G.W.F. Hegel, particularly the nature and possibilities of freedom as well as the institutional conditions that allow human beings to flourish. I also do research in the larger tradition of individual freedom and community which runs from Rousseau to Kant to Hegel. I am interested in Ancient Greek sexual ethics and the ethical thought of Aristotle.

My work in contemporary political philosophy has focussed on two areas. First, on the so-called new natural law theory and its attempt to think through the relationship between body, freedom, and family. Although usually taken to be exclusively traditional in its understanding of proper sexual relations, my own publications on the new natural law theory tries to draw out both an intriguing conception of self-constitution and bodily integrity present within the theory and the progressive implications that occur when we take the body to be integral to the free self. Second, I have been working on collaborative projects on the relationship between modernity and violence with Dr. Gavin Cameron (on terrorism) and Dr. Maureen Hiebert (on genocide).

My teaching has included courses on topics such as sexual ethics from the Greeks to Rawls; freedom and education from Rousseau's Emile to J.S. Mill's On Liberty; Plato and Hegel on the community. As well, I regularly teach a introductory history of political thought course.

If you are interested in joining the Department's Honours program, I have been very pleased to supervise undegraduate honour theses on a very wide range of topics, ranging from ancient and modern political thought to themes within sexual and medical ethics, technology, and the moral challenges of evolutionary biology. For a list of my current and past Honours students see below.

I have also supervised (and am supervising) MA theses on issues of sexual ethics. I am happy to supervise graduate theses on topics within the history of political thought as well as sexual ethics.


A. Books 
2006Hegel'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.
B. Articles
2016'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 (published online 21 Jan. 2016) (DOI: 10.1080/ 10848770.2015.1129842) (co-author, Maureen S. Hiebert)
2015'A (Reconstructed) New Natural Law Account of Sexuate Selfhood and Rape's Harm', The Heythrop Journal, vol. 56, 2015: 734–750 (published online 1 Feb 2015) (DOI: 10.1111/heyj.12247). (Second author, Robin Blake)
'Hegel and the Paradox of Democratic Education', The European Legacy, vol. 18, no. 3 June 2013: 308-326. [Click Here to Download a Free Copy from Taylor & Francis, 50 Available]
2012'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.
2011'New Natural Law Theory and the Grounds of Marriage: Friendship and Self-Constitution', Social Theory and Practice, vol. 37, no. 3, July 2011: 461-482.
2010(co-author Gavin Cameron) 'The Ontology of Modern Terrorism: Hegel, Terrorism Studies, and Dynamics of Violence', Cosmos and History, vol. 6, no. 1, 2010: 60-90.
2004'The "Bees Problem" in Hegel's Political Philosophy: Habit, Phronesis and the Experience of the Good', History of Political Thought, vol. XXV, no. 3, Autumn 2004: 481-507.
2003'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.
C. Chapters
2018'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)
2017Robot Sex Book Cover'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): Chapter 10, pp. 173–200. [Book details:]
D. Book Reviews
2008Ido Geiger's The Founding Act of Modern Ethical Life: Hegel's Critique of Kant's Moral and Political Philosophy in Philosophy in Review / Comptes rendus philosophique­s, vol. 28, no. 3, June 2008: 199-201.
2005Alice Ormiston's Love and Politics: Re-interpreting Hegel in Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol. 38, no. 2, June 2005: 515-517.
2003Richard Schmitt's Alienation and Freedom in Philosophy in Review / Comptes rendus philosophique­s, vol. 23, no. 3, June 2003: 212-214.
2002Dudley Knowles' Political Philosophy in Philosophy in Review / Comptes rendus philosophiques, vol. 22, no. 4, August 2002: 297 - 299.


A. Submitted Works
 None at present
B. In Preparation
Article'Falling in Love with Hegel and Rousseau: Marriage, Autonomy, and Selfhood' (near first draft, approx. 14,000 words)
Book MS

(tentative title) The Nature of Sex, Self, and the Good Life: Freedom and the Boundaries a New Natural Law Sexual Ethics (Book MS)

Drawing on my critical reconstruction of the possibilities of the so-called New Natural Law Theory (NNLT) and its sexual ethics, this book-length manuscript deepens, expands, and presents in one place a unified account how the theoretical resources of the NNLT can help us rethink the relationship between the demands of freedom and the nature of sex or the sort of limitlessness of freedom and the boundedness of our embodied, sexuate existence.

Here is a rough chapter outline:

I. Introduction: Sexual Ethics and the Modern Problem of Boundaries
  • Modernity's Only Possibility? Marquis de Sade and the challenge to modern sexual ethics.
  • Ancient Pathways and the Way Back to Boundaries? Finnis and Nussbaum on the challenge of Greek sexual ethics.
II. The Traditional New Natural Law Theory: Nature and Morality
  • The traditional New Natural Law Theory: morality, nature, will.
  • The traditional New Natural Law Theory: sexual ethics and requirements of integrity.
  • What's Living and What's Dead in the Traditional NNLT Sexual Ethics?
III. Rescuing New Natural Law Theory: Self-Constitution and Sex
  • Rescuing the New Natural Law Theory: from facticity to self-constitution
  • A New, New Natural Law Sexual Ethics: towards sexuate selfhood
IV. The Boundaries of a (New) New Natural Law Sexual Ethic
  • Self-constitution and Ways of Being at Home with One's self: the place and importance of sexual and gender identity
  • Solitary Vices?
  • Marriage and the Actualization of the Sexuate Self.
  • Who Ought I to Marry? The types of marriage partners: same-sex marriage, incest, children, beasts and 'bots
  • How Many Ought I to Marry? The problem of the One and the Many: polyamory and polygamy
  • What are Marital Actions?
  • Sexuate Selfhood Outside of Marriage
V. Conclusion: Sex and the Good Life



2017'The Genesis and Evolution of CPHS', Symposium on the Comparative Program on Health and Society’s Contributions to the Social Determinants of Health, Munk School for Global Affairs, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON. May 2017.
2017'The Metaphysics of the Family in Hegel's Practical Philosophy: From the Problems of Aristotle and Kant to the Freedom of Embodied Selfhood', Western Political Science Association, Vancouver, BC: April 2017.
2016'Falling in Love with Hegel (and Rousseau): Recovering the Place of Virtue and Ethical Self-Constitution In Marriage', Canadian Political Science Association, Calgary, AB. June 2016.
2015'The Family as Freedom in Hegel's Political Thought: From Aristotelian Naturalism and Kantian Formalism to Free Embodied Selfhood', Canadian Political Science Association, Ottawa, ON. May 2015.
2014Teaching Political Theory Roundtable Discussion, Prairie Political Science Association, Banff, AB. September 2014.
2014 'The Kantian Problem in Hegel's Account of Marriage', Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL. April 2014.
2013(co-author Maureen Hiebert) 'The Philosophic Origins of the Logic of Exterminationist State Terror: Rousseau, Hegel, and the Case of Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge', Prairie Political Science Association, Banff, AB. September 2013.
2013'What Good is Marriage: Straights, Gays, Polygamists, and the Role of the State', The Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB. March 2013. Invited Talk.
2012(co-author Robin Blake) 'The Harm of Rape: A New Natural Law Approach', Association for Political Theory, Columbia, SC. October 2012
2012(co-author Maureen Hiebert) 'Hegel, Modernity, Genocide', International Network of Genocide Scholars, San Francisco, CA. June 2012
2012(co-author Maureen Hiebert) 'Hegel, Modernity, Genocide', Western Political Science Association, Portland, OR. March, 2012.
2012'What's Wrong with "Born This Way"? Some Philosophical Problems with the use of Nature for a Sexual Ethic', Queers on Campus, Calgary, AB. March, 2012. (Invited Talk.)
2011'Rescuing New Natural Law Theory: Moral, Personal, and Ethical Autonomy', Western Political Science Association, San Antonio, Tx. April, 2011.
2011'Rescuing New Natural Law Theory: Moral, Personal, and Ethical Autonomy', Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Il. April, 2011. (Nominated for the Review of Politics Award for best paper in political philosophy.)
2011'Dancing with the Rose: Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Terrorism, Revolution, and Finding Satisfaction in the Present World', Imminent Future, VIVO Media Arts Centre, Vancouver, BC. February, 2011. (Invited Public Seminar)
2010'Thinking About Sex and Human Flourishing: Some Historical and Philosophical Reflections', The  Unitarian Church of Calgary, Calgary, AB. November, 2010. (Invited Public Lecture)
2010'The Paradox of Ethical Polygamy', Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL. April 2010.
2010'Hegel and New Natural Law on Polygamy', Western Political Science Association, San Francisco, CA. April 2010.
2009'The Problem of Marriage in New Natural Law Theory', Canadian Political Science Association, Ottawa, ON. May 2009.
2009'To What Extent Is Resistance to Liberalism Justified?', Calgary Regional Consortium, Gr.12 Social Studies Four-Part Evening Series: Ideologies: Perspectives & Understandings, Calgary, AB. May 2009. (Invited talk)
2009(and Gavin Cameron) 'Hegel, Modernity, and Terrorism', Western Political Science Association, Vancouver, BC. March 2009.
2008(and Gavin Cameron) 'What is so Terrible about the Terror? Hegel and the Structure of Modern Terrorism', Terrorism and Modernity: Global Perspectives on Nineteenth Century Political Violence, New Orleans, La., USA. October, 2008.
2008'Marriage and the Boundaries of Sex in New Natural Law Theory ', Canadian Political Science Association, Vancouver, BC. June 2008.
2008'Bounding Sex: Marriage, Moral Projects, and Physical Facticity', Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL.  April 2008.
2007'New Natural Law and Same-sex Marriage', Canadian Political Science Association, Saskatoon, SK. June 2007.
2006'Neither a Rights Bearer nor a Reproducer Be: Same-Sex Marriage and the Challenge to Political Philosophy,' Canadian Political Science Association, Toronto, ON. June 2006.
2006'Between Right and Tradition: Same-Sex Marriage and the Challenge to Political Philosophy,' Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL. April 2006.


PhD Supervisions 
2014-*Nigel Cones, Recovering Individual Autonomy: Nudging and the Self-Constituted Individual
MA Supervisions  
2017-*Erica Kunimoto, TBA: Butler and Nussbaum on Antigone and the Role of the Emotions
2010-14Joshua Haase, 'The Ontology of Marriage'
2008-10Rob Blake, 'Towards a Conception of Rape as a Violation of Constitutive Autonomy in Greek, Christian, and New Natural Law Theory' (defended Aug. 2010)
BA Honour Thesis Supervisions 
2017-18*Kelsey Gordon, TBD: Plato, Nietzsche, and Art
2016-17*Kathryn Verwaayen, 'An Exploration of Hegel and Butler with a Focus on the Individual and Sexuality, Women, and the Family'
2016-17Mark Grosjean, 'Bordered Culture: Rawls and Migration in Europe'
2015-16Lucas Jerusalemiec, 'Good Men and Good Citizens: Reconciling Prudence and Lawfulness'
2014-15Holly Ellsworth-Clark, 'The Scope of our Obligations: Rawls and Singer'
2013-15Graham Rapson, 'Contemporary Technology and the Ontological Underpinnings of Liberal Democracy: C.B. Macpherson’s Political Thought and the Debate over Big Data'
2011-12James Delaney, 'Education to Freedom in the Works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau'
2011-12Angelo Law, 'Complete Freedom: An Analysis of Marx and Rousseau, and a Solution to Securing Freedom'
2011-12Hannah O'Riain, 'Examining the Conflict Between Midwifery and Biomedical Maternity Care: Is There a Philosophical Barrier'
2010-11Kieran Jimenez, 'Personal Liberty, Political Legitimacy: Rousseau, J.S. Mill, and Proudhon'
2009-10Cam Cotton-O'Brien, 'State, Citizen, and Moral Autonomy: Rousseau, Foucault, Berlin'
2009-10Alix Hvidberg, 'Morality and the Law: Same-sex Marriage through Dworkin, Hart, and Rawls'
2009-10Karolina Kowalewski, 'A Rebirth of the Clinic? Exploring Reproductive Technologies Through Foucault and Heidegger'
2009-10Yasmin Mayne, 'A philosophic investigation into the Nature of Sex and Its relationship to commercialization and well-being'
2008-09Kai Larson, 'Marx, Lenin and the Materialism of Revolution'
2008-09Tyson Vandament, Machiavelli's Institutionalism: State Power and Its Foundations'
2007-08Lauren Brander, 'Where the Personal is Political: power and violence in second-wave feminist political theory'
2007-08Shane Sackman, 'Plato and Hegel on the Family'
2007-08Gina Vaz, 'Female Genital Cutting: a philosophical approach'
2006-07Joshua Johnson, 'The Economics of the Good Life in Aristotle and the Young Marx'
2006-07Randi Szakaly, 'Towards Greater Justice: the paradox of women's inequality'


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