Douglas Casson

Ancient and modern political philosophy, Religion and politics, Constitutional law

Professor Casson teaches ancient and modern political philosophy, religion and politics, and constitutional law. He also teaches regularly in the Great Conversation Program. He studied classics, history, and politics at Colorado College, and did his graduate work at Duke University. Before coming to St Olaf College, he studied at the University of Regensburg and the University of Leipzig (formerly Karl Marx University) and taught at the Humboldt University in Berlin and Wake Forest University in North Carolina. In recent years he has been a Visiting Fellow at Harris Manchester College at Oxford University and a Fulbright Fellow at Friedrich-Alexander-University, Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany.

His scholarship focuses on the relationship between self-restraint and self-government, especially in the context of religious and political disagreement. In Liberating Judgment: Fanaticism, Skepticism, and John Locke’s Politics of Probability (Princeton 2011), he traced how John Locke and his predecessors, in the absence of shared authority, emphasized the importance of probable judgment. This book was named one of Choice’s Outstanding Academic Titles for 2011: Top 25 Books. He is now working on a related project, tentatively called Civility and Its Discontents: Rudeness and Refinement in Modern Political Thought, in which he explores the rocky relationship between civility and liberty beginning with Luther and Erasmus and continuing through works of prominent early modern thinkers such as Hobbes, Locke, Shaftesbury, Smith, and Rousseau.