Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government


David Thunder is a researcher and lecturer at the Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, since September 2012. He is a recipient of the prestigious Ramón y Cajal grant (with a five-year duration, from 2017 to 2021), awarded by the Spanish government to support outstanding research activities. Prior to his appointment to the University of Navarra, he held several research and teaching positions in the United States, including visiting assistant professor at Bucknell and Villanova, and Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Princeton University’s James Madison Program. Dr Thunder earned his BA and MA in philosophy at University College Dublin, and his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Notre Dame.

His research attempts to come to a deeper understanding of the lived experience of persons who seek to live meaningful and worthy lives in community with others. One of the defining features of his work is its attempt to recover a more wholistic vision of the human person and of community life, in the face of attempts by modern thinkers to isolate legal, economic, and political activity from broader concerns and values that affect the human person as such. Specific issues he has addressed in his writings include integrity and corruption in public life, the benefits and drawbacks of appeals to freedom of conscience in a morally conflicted society, the philosophical justification of human rights, our responsibilities toward the distant needy, the ethics of financial trading, and the challenge of building sustainable communities in societies under the sway of individualistic attitudes and lifestyles.

Dr Thunder is currently embarked on a research project that aims to re-formulate republican and democratic ideals of freedom and self-government in a way that does full justice to the plural forms of normative order and the plural goods embodied in civil society organizations. Dr Thunder's book, Citizenship and the Pursuit of the Worthy Life (2014) argues for a more wholistic approach to the ethics of citizenship, rejecting the influential Rawlsian distinctions between political and ethical reasoning. His work has also appeared in prominent venues such as the American Journal of Political SciencePolitical Theory, and The Journal of Social Philosophy.


Research programmes

Research Interests

Select Publications

  • Citizenship and the Pursuit of the Worthy Life. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  • The Ethics of Citizenship in the 21st Century. Editor & Contributor. Springer. 2017. ISBN 978-3319504148.
  • “The Public Role of Humanities Scholarship, in the Humboldtian Tradition.” University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 85, n. 4 (Fall 2016), pp. 46-66.
  • “Moral Parochialism and the Limits of Impartiality.” The Heythrop Journal, 21st June 2016 (Early View online). DOI: 10.1111/heyj.12340.
  • “Rethinking the Ethics of Giving: The Normative and Motivational Inadequacy of Resource Management Approaches to Beneficence.” Journal of Social Philosophy, vol. 46, no. 3 (Fall 2015), pp. 297-317.
  • “Why Respect for Freedom Cannot Explain the Content and Grounds of Human Rights: A Response to Valentini.” Political Theory, vol. 42, n. 4 (August 2014), pp. 490-497.
  • “Am I My Brother’s Keeper? Grounding and Motivating an Ethos of Social Responsibility in a Free Society.” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, vol. 12, no. 4 (December 2009), pp. 559-580.
  • “Why Value Pluralism Does Not Support the State’s Enforcement of Liberal Autonomy: A Response to Crowder.” Political Theory, vol. 37, no. 1 (February 2009), pp. 154-160.
  • “A Rawlsian Argument Against the Duty of Civility.” American Journal of Political Science, vol. 50, no. 3 (July 2006), pp. 676-690.

Research projects