Peter Berkowitz

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Peter Berkowitz
Born 1959 (age 57–58)
Nationality American
Fields Law,
Liberal democracy
Institutions Hoover Institution,
Israel Program on Constitutional Government,
Ethics and Public Policy Center
Alma mater Yale University,
Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
Swarthmore College

Peter Berkowitz (born 1959)[1] is an American political scientist, a former law professor, the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He holds a J.D. and a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University; an M.A. in philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and a B.A. in English literature from Swarthmore College (1981).[2]

Berkowitz taught constitutional law and jurisprudence at George Mason University School of Law from 1999 to 2007, and political philosophy in the Department of Government at Harvard University from 1990 to 1999.[3]

In 1997, after Harvard University president Neil Rudenstine rejected the Department of Government's recommendation and denied his tenure, Berkowitz challenged the process by which Rudenstine reached his decision through Harvard's internal grievance procedure.[4] Eventually, in 2000, he brought a lawsuit for breach of contract against Harvard alleging flaws in both the tenure review process and the grievance procedure.[5] In 2003, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts dismissed his case.[5]

He is co-founder and director of the Israel Program on Constitutional Government[6] and is a member of the Policy Advisory Board at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.[7] He sits on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Scholars.[8] He has defended George W. Bush and neoconservative policies.[9] He has also written articles on liberalism and conservatism in the United States and on atheism.[10]

In 2003 he penned an article in The Weekly Standard defending philosopher Leo Strauss from detractors who claimed that Strauss taught an elite group who served in high positions in Bush administration to secretly manipulate policy for a neoconservative agenda.[11]

Berkowitz formerly served on the foreign policy advisory team of Republican Party presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.[12]

Berkowitz is known for his critique of American higher education, particularly of campus culture and university governance. Speaking in 2015, he summed his criticisms as:

...what I see is a hollowing out of the core curriculum, I see, I should say a hollowing out of the core, I see a politicizing of the curriculum. I see curtailing of freedom of speech, liberty of thought and discussion on campus. And increasingly, especially these last several years, an evisceration of due process on campus for students accused these days, usually in sexual harassment and sexual assault cases. So I see a bad situation.[13]

With regard to freedom of expression on American university and college campuses, Berkowitz favors a robust free speech regime. As he told conservative writer and commentator Bill Kristol in response to Larry Summers's controversial dismissal as president of Harvard, "I want a university president who will say to the incoming class 'At this college, at this university, you have a right to be offended. If a week transpires during the semester and you haven’t heard an opinion that makes you feel uneasy, uncomfortable, I want you to come to me and I’m going to have to encourage more freedom of speech . . . I’m going to have to encourage better diversity of opinion.'"[14]


  • Virtue and the Making of Modern Liberalism (Princeton University Press, 1999).
  • Nietzsche: The Ethics of an Immoralist (Harvard University Press, 1995).
  • Varieties of Conservatism in America, editor (Hoover Institution Press, 2004).
  • Varieties of Progressivism in America, editor (Hoover Institution Press, 2004)
  • The Future of American Intelligence, editor (Hoover Institution Press, 2005)
  • Terrorism, the Laws of War, and the Constitution: Debating the Enemy Combatant Cases, editor (Hoover Institution Press, 2005).
  • Never a Matter of Indifference: Sustaining Virtue in a Free Republic, editor (Hoover Institution Press, 2003).

Berkowitz has co-edited the Hoover Studies in Politics, Economics, and Society book series with Tod Lindberg since 2005.


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