Richard Vernon

Richard Vernon

Richard Vernon

Department of Political Science
The University of Western Ontario
London, Canada N6A 5C2




Trinity College, Cambridge

London School of Economics


  • B.A. Cantab. 1966 (Historical Tripos)
  • M.A. Cantab. 1970
  • Ph.D. (Econ.) London, 1969 (Government)


  • Canada Council Leave Fellowship (1976-77)
  • The C.B. Macpherson Prize (Canadian Political Science Association), 1998
  • The Hellmuth Prize for Distinction in Research (UWO), 2005
  • The Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching (UWO), 2008
  • University Students’ Council Honour Roll (UWO), 2008
  • Distinguished University Professor (UWO), 2009


  • Department of Political Science, University of Western Ontario: Assistant Professor 1970-76, Associate Professor 1976-81, Professor 1981-
  • Visiting status, Nuffield College Oxford, Michaelmas Term 1989
  • Supervisory privileges, Graduate Program in Philosophy, University of Western Ontario, 2003-
  • Visiting faculty status, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, Fall Term 2004
  • Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, Cambridge, Summer 2009

Research fields

History of Political Thought in France and Britain, Contemporary Political Theory, especially theories of rights, pluralism, and global justice.

Teaching fields

History of Political Thought, Contemporary Political Theory, Transitional Justice, Global Justice, Concepts of Responsibility, Philosophy of Social Science.

Thesis supervision

21 BA theses, 42 MA theses, 9 PhD theses

Please see teaching addendum below for details of teaching and supervision.

Administrative responsibilities


  • Chair of Department 1986-92
  • Acting Chair of Department 1982-83
  • Chair of Graduate Committee 1978-82, 1984-85, 2000-03
  • Chair of Undergraduate Committee 1994-7
  • Member of Appointments Committee 1971-73, 1974-75, 1977-78, 1980-81, 1985-86, 1993-95, 1999-2001
  • Member of Promotion and Tenure Committee, 1978-80, 1981-82, 1993-94, 1995-7, 1999-2000, 2003-4
  • Member, Teaching Awards Committee, 2008-

Faculty of Social Science

  • Executive Committee 1975-76
  • Grievance Committee 1979-81, 1993-96, 1999-2001
  • Dean's Advisory Committee, MPA program, 1985-86
  • Smallman Publications Fund 1987-89
  • Dean's Advisory Committee, on the Department of Psychology, 1989-90
  • Chair, Committee on "Scholars' Electives Program" [= programs of studies for first-class students] 1996-98
  • Scholarships Committee, 1998-
  • Faculty representative to the National Scholarships Committee, 2000-
  • Faculty of Social Science Promotion and Tenure Committee, 2000-01
  • Promotion and Tenure Committees for History and Political Science, History and ACS, 2001-2
  • Nominating Committee, 2002-, Chair 2003-4

Faculty of Graduate Studies

  • Chair, Divisional Committee (Social Science) 1979-81
    Member, various appeal committees
  • Advisory Committee, Graduate Program in Law 1986-87
  • Co-opted member, Internal Appraisals Committee 1987-88
  • Credentials Committee, 1999-2002
  • Consultant, graduate program in Music Theory, 2003


  • Chairmanship Selection Committees for Political Science (1975, 1978, 1995 and 2009) and History (1980 and 1994)
  • Graduate Planning and Priorities Committee 1980-82
  • Decanal Selection Committee (Social Science) 1994-95
  • University Committee on Scholars' Electives Program, 1998-99
  • National Scholarships Committee, 1999-2000, 2001-02, Chair 2003-04, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09
  • Hellmuth Prize Selection Committee, 1999-2000, 2006-7, 2007-8
  • St Andrew’s [Scotland] Exchange Selection Committee, 1999-
  • Promotion and Tenure Committee, Department of French, 2003-6
  • Ethics Review Board (Non-Medical), 2008-

Consulting, examining etc

Refereeing for

  • University of Toronto Press (16x)
  • Canadian Journal of Political Science (24x)
  • American Political Science Review (3x)
  • Social Science and Humanities Research Council (14x)
  • Oxford University Press (3x)
  • Oxford University Press Canada
  • Studies in History and Politics
  • Prentice-Hall (2x)
  • Journal of the History of Ideas (3x)
  • Carleton University Press
  • Studies in Political Thought
  • Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
  • Alternatives
  • York University, Faculty of Arts Research Program (2x)
  • State University of New York Press
  • Aid to Scholarly Publications Program (SSF) (3x)
  • Publius: The Journal of Federalism
  • Political Research Quarterly
  • Princeton University Press (2x)
  • Maritime Provinces Higher Education Council
  • Political Studies (4x)
  • Journal of Canadian Studies
  • Polity Press (2x)
  • Journal of Political Philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Journal of Politics (2x)
  • Canadian Journal of Philosophy
  • Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (8x + special issue)
  • Canadian Philosophical Association
  • Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence
  • Journal of Moral Philosophy
  • McGill-Queen's University Press
  • Lynn Rienner Publishing
  • Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice
  • International Political Theory
  • Ethics and International Affairs


  • University of British Columbia, Ph.D. 1980
  • Queen's University, Ph.D. 1993
  • York University, Ph.D. 2003
  • University of Alberta, Ph.D. 2006
  • UWO: over 100 MA and Ph.D. theses in Politics, History, Philosophy, Sociology, Geography, Psychology and English


  • Panel member, Ontario Graduate Scholarship 1980-83, 2007-9 (Chair, 2008-9)
  • External Assessor for tenure and/or promotion or grievance cases at the following institutions:
    • Illinois Institute of Technology
    • University of Victoria
    • University of Toronto (4x)
    • Concordia University
    • University of Waterloo
    • York University
    • University of Birmingham (UK)
    • University of Alberta
    • University of British Columbia
    • King’s College, Halifax
    • Huron College, UWO
    • Dalhousie University

Other Professional Activities

  • Organizer and Contributor, conference on "Philosophy and Myth in Georges Sorel," UWO 1978
  • On Canadian Political Science Association program in 1973, 1975, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2002; Canadian Philosophical Association Program 2006
  • Invited Organizer, special series on "Rights" (18 papers) for the 1989 CPSA meetings
  • Organizer and Host, CPSA Chairs' Meeting 1989
  • Board of Directors, CPSA, 1990-92
  • Co-investigator, CPSA employment survey, 1990-91
  • English-language Co-Editor, Canadian Journal of Political Science, 1993-96
  • Nominating Committee for CPSA President and Board of Directors, 1995-96
  • Advisory Board, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 1998-
  • Co-director, Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict Research Group (UWO) 1999-2009
  • Chair, C.B.Macpherson Prize Jury (CPSA), 1999-2000
  • Chair, CPSA Search Committee for CJPS Editorial Team, 2001-02
  • Editorial Board, European Journal of Political Theory, 2002-
  • General Editor (with S.J. Noel) of Studies in Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002-
  • Chief Organizer, conference on "Bringing Power to Justice: The Prospects of International Criminal Law," UWO, March 2003
  • Co-organizer, conference on "Why Neighbours Kill: Explaining the Breakdown of Ethnic Relations," UWO, June 2004
  • Co-organizer, conference on "Reconciliation," UWO June 2005
  • Co-organizer, conference on "Compatriot Preference," UWO September 2006
  • Co-organizer, conference on "Cross-Purposes? International Law and Political Settlements," UWO June 2007
  • Co-organizer, conference on "Reconstructing Northern Uganda," UWO April 2008
  • Co-organizer, conference on “Collective Punishment,” UWO April 2009


Books [10]

Richard Vernon, Commitment and Change: Georges Sorel and the Idea of Revolution, University of Toronto Press, 1978, pp. viii, 148

Richard Vernon, The Principle of Federation by P.-J. Proudhon [translation, with critical introduction and notes], University of Toronto Press, 1979, pp. xlvii, 86

Richard Vernon, Citizenship and Order: Studies in French Political Thought, University of Toronto Press, 1986, pp. 264

J.M. Porter and Richard Vernon eds., Unity, Plurality and Politics: Essays in Honour of F.M. Barnard, Croom Helm, 1986, pp. 194

Richard Vernon, The Career of Toleration: John Locke, Jonas Proast, and After, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1997, pp. 164. (Awarded the CPSA’s C.B. Macpherson Prize for the best Canadian book in political theory, 1996-98.)

Richard Vernon, Political Morality: A Theory of Liberal Democracy, Continuum (Political Theory and Contemporary Politics Series: launch volume), 2001, pp. 202

Richard Vernon, Friends, Citizens, Strangers: Essays on Where We Belong, University of Toronto Press, 2005, pp. 325

Joanna Harrington, Michael Milde and Richard Vernon eds., Bringing Power to Justice: Prospects of the International Criminal Court, Mc-Gill-Queen's University Press, 2006, pp. 288

Victoria Esses and Richard Vernon eds., Explaining the Breakdown of Ethnic Relations: Why Neighbours Kill, Blackwell (Social Issues and Interventions series: launch volume), 2008, pp.272

Richard Vernon, Cosmopolitan Regard: Political Membership and Global Justice, Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)

Journal articles [36]

Richard Vernon, "Rationalism and Commitment in Sorel," Journal of the History of Ideas 34 (1973) 405-20

F.M. Barnard and Richard Vernon "Pluralism, Participation and Politics: Reflections on the Intermediate Group," Political Theory 3 (1975) 180-97

Richard Vernon, "The Secular Political Culture: Three Views," Review of Politics 37 (1975) 490-512

Richard Vernon,"The Great Society and the Open Society: Liberalism in Hayek and Popper," Canadian Journal of Political Science 9 (1976) 262-76. Reprinted in P. Boettke, Intellectual Legacies in Modern Economics, Elgar, 1999

F.M. Barnard and Richard Vernon, "Socialist Pluralism and Pluralist Socialism," Political Studies 25 (1977) 474-90

Richard Vernon,"Auguste Comte and 'Development'," History and Theory 17 (1978) 323-26

Richard Vernon, "Hayek's Residual Platonism," Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory 2 (1978) 156-62

Richard Vernon, "Unintended Consequences," Political Theory 7 (1979) 57-73

Richard Vernon,"Politics as Metaphor: Cardinal Newman and Professor Kuhn," Review of Politics 41 (1979) 513-35. Reprinted in Gary Gutting (ed.) Paradigms and Revolutions, University of Notre Dame Press 1980

Richard Vernon, "The Disunity of Theory and Practice," Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory 4 (1980) 199-205

Richard Vernon, "Citizenship in Industry: The Case of Georges Sorel," American Political Science Review 75 (1981) 17-28

Richard Vernon, "Freedom and Corruption: Proudhon's Federalism," Canadian Journal of Political Science 14 (1981) 775-95

F.M. Barnard and Richard Vernon, "Recovering Politics for Socialism," Canadian Journal of Political Science 16 (1983) 717-37

Richard Vernon and Samuel V. La Selva, "Justifying Tolerance," Canadian Journal of Political Science 17 (1984) 3-23

Richard Vernon, "Auguste Comte and the Withering-Away of the State," Journal of the History of Ideas 45 (1984) 549-66

Richard Vernon, "The Political Self: Auguste Comte and Phrenology," History of European Ideas 7 (1986) 271-86

Richard Vernon, "On Liberty, Liberty and Censorship," Queen's Quarterly 94 (1987) 267-85

Richard Vernon,.“Toleration without Scepticism," Studies in Political Thought 2 (1992) 47-57

Richard Vernon, "Locke's Antagonist, Jonas Proast," Locke Newsletter [now Locke Studies] 24 (1993) 95-106

Richard Vernon, "John Stuart Mill and Pornography," Ethics 106 (1996), 621-32

Richard Vernon, "Liberals, Democrats and the Agenda of Politics," Political Studies 46 (1998), 295-308

Richard Vernon, "What is Crime against Humanity?" Journal of Political Philosophy 10 (2002), 231-49

Richard Vernon, "Against Restitution," Political Studies 51 (2003), 542-57

Richard Vernon, "Henri Bergson and the Moral Possibility of Nationalism," Contemporary Political Theory 2 (2003) 271-88

Rhiana Chinapen and Richard Vernon, "Justice in Transition," Canadian Journal of Political Science 39 (2006), 117-34

Richard Vernon,"Compatriot Preference: Is There a Case?" Politics and Ethics Review 2 (2006), 1-18

Richard Vernon, "Contractualism and Global Justice: The Iteration Proviso," Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 19 ( 2006) 345-56

Richard Vernon, "Challenging the Liberal Settlement," University of New Brunswick Law Journal 55 (2006), 186-92

Richard Vernon, "Association by Obligation?" Political Studies 55(2007) 865-79

Richard Vernon, "States of Risk," Ethics and International Affairs 21 (2007) 451-69

Richard Vernon, "Humanitarian Intervention and the Problem of Internal Legitimacy," Journal of Global Ethics 4 (2008), 37-49

Sarah Hannan and Richard Vernon, "Parental Rights," Theory & Research in Education 6 (2008) 173-89

Richard Vernon, "Is There A Global Harm Principle?" Critical Review of International Social and Political Theory 12 (2009), 1-18

Richard Vernon, "Intergenerational Rights?" Intergenerational Justice Review 9 (2009), 8-12

Ricgard Vernon, "Pascalian Ethics: Bergson. Levinas, Derrida," forthcoming in European Journal of Political Theory

Richard Vernon, "Religion and the Rise of Liberalism," [in Farsi], forthcoming in an Iranian journal, Dafetere Bonyad (with author interview)

Encyclopedia articles [7], invited

"Social Contract," Encyclopedia of Democracy (S.M. Lipset ed.) Washington DC: Congressional Quarterly Books, 1995, 306-08.

"Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph," Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Edward Craig ed.) London: Routledge, 1999, vol. 7, 791-93.

"Ideas and Ideologies in Politics," (12,000 words), UNESCO Encyclopedia, Oxford: EOLSS Publishers, 2002: re-issued in e-book, Government and Politics, ed. Masashi Sekiguchi, same publisher.

"Historical Redress," Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, online update, 2007

"Crime Against Humanity" and "Pornography," Sage Encyclopedia of Political Theory, forthcoming.

"The Religion of Humanity," commissioned for the Encyclopedia of Utilitarianism (Continuum).

Parts of books [7]

"Introduction," to G.D.H. Cole, Guild Socialism Restated, reprint by Transaction Books (Social Science Classics series), 1980, 5-61

"Moral Pluralism and the Liberal Mind," in Porter and Vernon (eds.) Unity, Plurality and Politics, 143-61

"The Federal Citizen," in R. Olling and M. Westmacott (eds.) Perspectives on Canadian Federalism, Prentice-Hall, 1988, 3-15. Reprinted in T.Bateman, Braving the New World, Nelson, 2000, 2003.

"J.S.Mill and the Religion of Humanity," in J. Crimmins (ed.) Religion, Secularization, and Political Thought, London: Routledge, 1990, 167-82

(with S.V. La Selva) "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Federalism," invited contribution to Challenges to Canadian Federalism, edited by M.Westmacott and H.Mellon: Prentice-Hall, 1997, 30-39.

"Beyond the Harm Principle," invited contribution to a collective volume, Mill and the Moral Character of Liberalism, E. Eisenach ed., Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998, 115-31

(With S.V. La Selva), "Censorship, Liberalism, Feminism and Pornography," invited contribution to Political Dispute and Judicial Review, M.Westmacott and H. Mellon eds., Nelson, 1999, 124-33.

["Discoveries in the Land of Self-Interest," invited contribution to a collective volume on David Braybrooke’s work, under review at University of Toronto Press].


in Review of Politics (1981), Canadian Journal of Political Science (1981, 1982, 1983 [2x], 1990, 1991, 1998, 2000, 2003), Political Theory (1982), American Political Science Review (1987), History of European Ideas (1987), Ethics (1999) Political Studies (2001), Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences (2005), Ethics and International Affairs (2009)


Courses taught

* denotes a newly designed and introduced course


  • Politics 20E: Introduction to Politics
  • *Politics 022a: Capitalism and Democracy
  • *Politics 024b: Revolution
  • Politics 147/237E: History of Political Thought
  • *Politics 232: Political Analysis
  • Politics 334E: Contemporary Political Theory
  • Politics 353: Political Sociology
  • *Politics 391g/414g: International Justice
  • *Politics 414g (2003-): Justice after Atrocity
  • *Politics 416E: Rights and the Canadian Constitution
  • Politics 480E: Methodology
  • Politics 490E: BA Thesis (21 students).[The BA Thesis option is made available only to first-class Honors students. Approximately 1-2% of our graduating students take this option.]
  • *Scholar's Electives 302E: Contemporary Issues. [Core course for the Scholar's Electives program, a UWO program, with competitive entry, for first-class students seeking to add an interdisciplinary element to their work. The course, which is taken by students from almost all the Faculties in the University, examines the idea of “responsibility” in the context of professional ethics, global justice, intergenerational justice, and nonhuman animals and the physical environment.]


  • Politics 500 Scope and Method of Political Science
  • *Politics 500a/b (1996-2001) Philosophy of Social Science
  • Politics 501 Contemporary Political Theory
  • Politics 503 History of Political Thought
  • Politics 503 (1988-) Area Seminar in Political Theory. [This is the core course for the MA/PhD programs in Political Theory. In various years I have built the course around the ideas of liberty, justice, rights, democracy, toleration, and “difference”.]
  • Politics 504 Political Philosophy and Political Sociology
  • Politics 562 Area Seminar in Comparative Politics
  • *Politics/Philosophy 9750 Toleration and Its Critics. [Introduced in 2008-9, this is the first course to be offered collaboratively by the Politics and Philosophy departments.]

Thesis supervision

M.A [42]

Note: the MA thesis, compulsory until 2001, is a 100-page thesis, requiring independent work, examined by three faculty members other than the supervisor, including one from a cognate department.

  • Blaikie, "Politics of Albert Camus" (1972)
  • Bertram, "Explanation in Voting Studies" (1973)
  • Gibbons, "Political and Group Participation" (1974)
  • Seidel, "Nuremberg Trials and International Law" (1975)
  • Rousseau, "La Regle de la majorité" (1975)
  • Gibbons, "Idea of Work in Anarchism" (1976)
  • Brown, "Luther and the State" (1978)
  • Mann, "Carlyle and Revolution" (1979)
  • Fyfe, "Nature and Convention in Rousseau" (1979)
  • *O'Sullivan, "Consciousness in Herder and Marx" (1979)
  • Douglas, "Psychoanalysis and Politics" (1981)
  • Marshall, "Popper's Science and Politics" (1981)
  • Moore, "Pluralism and the State" (1985)
  • Belch, "Mandeville's Paradox" (1985)
  • Sadowski, "Conscientious Refusal" (1986)
  • *Jacobs, "Community and Association" (1986)
  • Kin Kow, "Affirmative Action: Three Approaches" (1987)
  • O'Neil, "Identity and Utility in Mill" (1987)
  • Holden, " Contestability of Legal Concepts" (1987)
  • Curtis, "Negative and Positive Freedom (1988)
  • Kawchuk, "Condorcet's Tactics of Reform " (1990)
  • Murphy, "Liberalism in Popper and Rorty" (1991)
  • Halfnight, "Montaigne and Rousseau" (1991)
  • Silver, "The Troglodyte Tale" (1991)
  • Lembcke, "Locke and Women" (1991)
  • Cross, "Welfare Rights" (1992)
  • Robinson, "Liberalism and Culture" (1992)
  • Kozma, "Liberalism and Art" (1993)
  • Zimmerman, "Positive Liberty and Liberal Rights" (1994)
  • Simsovic, "Locke and Rousseau on Education" (1994)
  • Lecce, "Autonomy and Authenticity in Rousseau" (1994)
  • Short, "Democratic Deliberation" (1994)
  • Kyriakos, "Gender Equality" (1995)
  • *Railton, "Constitutional Coalitions" (1995)
  • Hurren, "Locke and Natural Law" (1995)
  • Kaay, "Feminism and Pornography" (1996)
  • James, "Conflicts of Rights" (1997)
  • Munro, "Habermas and Taylor on Difference" (1997)
  • Bayly, "John Dewey and Democracy" (2000)
  • Djuricic, "Ethics of Humanitarian Intervention" (2000)
  • LeClair, "Negative Liberty Revisited" (2001)
  • Hannan, "Is Multiculturalism Bad for Children?" (2007)

Ph.D. [9]

  • Phillips, "Challenges to the Voting System in Canada" (1976)
  • Desserud, "Montesquieu and the Problem of England" (1989)
  • Coulombe, "Community in Liberalism: Language Rights in Quebec" (1992)
  • Robinson, "Liberalism and Community in a World of Difference" (1999)
  • Jonasson, "Political Uses of Subsidiarity" (2000)
  • Lecce, "Liberal Equality," (2004) [awarded the biennial Vincent Lemieux Prize for the best PhD dissertation in Political Science, any field, English- or French-language, in 2003 and 2004]
  • *Badescu, "The Responsibility to Protect" (2007)
  • Moe, "The Political Theory of Child Care" (2007)
  • Fisher, "Philosophical Foundations of International Criminal Law" (2008)

*denotes co-supervision

Supervisions in Progress

2 Ph.D. theses as principal supervisor (Politics), 2 as member of advisory committee (Philosophy), I MA thesis (Politics).