Richard E. Flathman, George Armstrong Kelly Professor, emeritus, died on Sept. 6. He was 81.
Flathman, an eminent political theorist, is best known for having pioneered the application of analytic philosophy to political science. He was a particularly influential scholar of Hobbes, and he articulated a distinct understanding of liberalism and freedom. Next year, Routledge will publish a book about his work: Richard E. Flathman: Situated Concepts, Virtuosity Liberalism and Opalescent Individuality, edited by P.E. Digeser.
With his colleague William Connolly, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in the Department of Political Science, Flathman founded what is sometimes called the “Hopkins School” of political theory, a deeply philosophical approach to understanding the meaning of political concepts such as liberalism or pluralism.
He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Macalester College and went on to receive a master’s degree and a doctoral degree—both in political science—from the University of California at Berkeley.
Before coming to Johns Hopkins in 1975 as a professor of political science, Flathman held teaching positions at Reed College, the University of Chicago, and the University of Washington at Seattle.
He published numerous books and articles in esteemed journals and was the recipient of several awards and fellowships, including the David and Elaine Spitz Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship.