Hadley Arkes

Professor, Author


Who is Hadley Arkes?

Hadley P. Arkes is an American political scientist and the Edward N. Ney Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions at Amherst College, where he has taught since 1966.

Arkes received a B.A. degree at the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago where he was a student of Leo Strauss.

In a series of books and articles dating from the mid-1980s, Arkes has written on a priori moral principles and advocated for their impact on constitutional interpretation. He has also dealt with their relation to constitutional jurisprudence and natural law, and their challenge to moral relativism. His works draw on political philosophers from Aristotle through the U.S. Founding Fathers, Lincoln, and contemporary authors and jurists.

John O. McGinnis, reviewing Arkes' Constitutional Illusions & Anchoring Truths in The Wall Street Journal, writes that it tries to find a path between the extremes of originalism, where the meaning of the U. S. constitution is fixed by its original text, and the idea of the living constitution, where its meaning is updated by evolving moral principles.

Arkes is founder and a member of the Committee for the American Founding, a group of Amherst alumni and students seeking to preserve the doctrines of "natural rights" exposited by some American Founders and Lincoln through the Colloquium on the American Founding at Amherst and in Washington, D.C.

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  • United States of America
  • University of Chicago
  • Amherst College

on July 23, 2013


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