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Joshua Laurence Cherniss

Graduate Student in Government

Room : LL9
work (617) 495-4303 x262


Joshua Laurence Cherniss

Joshua Cherniss is a PhD candidate in political theory in Harvard's Department of Government. His work draws on the history of political thought as a means of reflecting on theoretical questions about the ethics of political life, and their relationship to political practice. In his dissertation (for which he has been awarded a CES Graduate Dissertation Completion Fellowship), From 'Liberal Predicament' to 'Liberal Persuasion': Political Ethics and the Defense of Liberalism in Twentieth-Century Political Thought, he looks at the responses to radical critiques of liberal political morality of a range of European and American thinkers - Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Albert Camus, Stuart Hampshire, Leszek Kolakowski, Adam Michnik, Reinhold Niebuhr, George Orwell, and Judith Shklar - as well as the writings of thinkers who influenced them by attraction and/or repulsion (Leon Trotsky, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and, particularly, Max Weber). Drawing on these writers' theoretical arguments, and their personal and political responses to the ideological conflicts of their times, he examines the relationship between questions about the ethics of political action - the relationship of personal character to political practice, the connection and tension between ends and means, the congruence or conflict between political responsibility and personal morality - and the problems and defense of the norms and practices of liberal politics. Cherniss also holds a DPhil in History from the University of Oxford, where he wrote a doctoral thesis on the development and historical context of Isaiah Berlin's political thought.