Charles W. Mills

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Charles W. Mills is a philosopher. He is known for his work in social and political philosophy, particularly in oppositional political theory as centered on class, gender, and race.

Education and career[edit]

Mills is John Evans Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy at Northwestern University. He earned his B.Sc. at the University of the West Indies (Honors, Physics), and his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1985. His dissertation was titled, "The Concept of Ideology in the Thought of Marx and Engels." Mills taught physics in Kingston, Jamaica, from 1971–73 at the College of Arts, Science and Technology, and from 1976–77 at Campion College; he previously taught philosophy at the University of Oklahoma (1987–90) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (1990–2007) where he was a UIC Distinguished Professor.[1]

Research areas and publications[edit]

Mills' main research interests are in political theory (radical and oppositional), particularly around issues of social class, gender, and race. He has published numerous articles on Marxism, critical race theory, and African-American philosophy. His book The Racial Contract (Cornell University Press, 1997)[2] won a Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award[3] for the study of bigotry and human rights in North America. The award states, "Charles Mills' treatment of the biases in western philosophy in The Racial Contract is a tour de force."[4]


Mills is the author of five books:

  • The Racial Contract (Cornell University Press, 1997).
  • Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race (Cornell University Press, 1998).
  • From Class to Race: Essays in White Marxism and Black Radicalism (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003).
  • "Philosophy: the Big Questions" Ed. Charles Mills, Ruth Sample, and James P. Sterba (Blackwell, 2003).
  • Contract and Domination co-authored with Carole Pateman (Polity Press, 2007).
  • Radical Theory, Caribbean Reality: Race, Class and Social Domination (University of West Indies Press, 2010).

Selection of recent articles:

  • “White Ignorance,” in Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana, eds., Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2007), Philosophy and Race Series, pp. 13–38.
  • “Multiculturalism as/and/or Anti-Racism?” in Anthony Simon Laden and David Owen, eds., Multiculturalism and Political Theory (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 89–114.
  • “The Domination Contract,” in Daniel I. O’Neill, Mary Lyndon Shanley, and Iris Marion Young, eds., Illusion of Consent: Engaging with Carole Pateman, a festschrift for Carole Pateman (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008), pp. 49–74.
  • “Racial Liberalism,” an invited lead article (one of two) for a special issue of the PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association of America) on “Comparative Racialization,” Vol. 123, No. 5 (October 2008), pp. 1380–97.
  • “Rawls on Race/Race in Rawls,” The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Vol. XLVII (2009) annual supplement of the proceedings of the University of Memphis Spindel Conference,* * “Race, Racism, and Liberalism in the Twenty-First Century,” ed. Bill E. Lawson, pp. 161–84.
  • "The Political Economy of Personhood," and "Reply to Comments on 'The Political Economy of Personhood,'" as part of the National Humanities Center's forum "On the Human," posted online April 4, 2011 and April 15, 2011 (6000 words total).
  • "Philosophy Raced, Philosophy Erased," in George Yancy, ed., Reframing the Practice of Philosophy: Bodies of Color, Bodies of Knowledge (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2012), Philosophy and Race Series, pp. 45–70.
  • "Rationality and Morality in Sterba," in James P. Sterba, ed., Morality: The Why and the What of It (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2012), pp. 65–80, 233 (endnotes).
  • "Occupy Liberalism! Or, Ten Reasons Why Liberalism Cannot Be Retrieved for Radicalism (And Why They're All Wrong)," and "Reply to Nancy Holmstrom and Richard Schmitt," as part of a forum, "Discussion: Liberalism and Radicalism," in Radical Philosophy Review, Vol. 15, No. 2 (2012), pp. 305–23 and 337-43.
  • "Retrieving Rawls for Racial Justice? A Critique of Tommie Shelby,"Critical Philosophy of Race, Vol.1, No. 1 (2013), pp. 1–27.
  • "Race as/and (Ex)Change: Trading Places and the Rise of Neoliberalism," in Mary K. Bloodsworth-Lugo and Dan Flory, eds., Race, Philosophy, and Film (New York: Routledge, 2013), pp. 151–65.


  1. ^ For details see Charles Mills' curriculum vita. Accessed 13 April 2014.
  2. ^ See The Racial Contract for a synopsis and further information on the reception of the book.
  3. ^ The 1998 award is listed in Peacework. The Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights closed in 2009.
  4. ^ Williams, Loretta J. (July–August 1999). "Confronting Both Our Histories and Our Future: 1998 Winners of the Myers Outstanding Books Awards". Peacework. 

External links[edit]