Susanne Sreedhar is an assistant professor of philosophy at Boston University. Her influential research addresses the moral and political questions that arise within the history of the social contract tradition. The bulk of this research thus far has focused on the nature and scope of political obligation, and the justifiability of civil disobedience. She is the author of Hobbes on Resistance: Defying the Leviathan (Cambridge University Press, 2010) in which she defends a novel interpretation of Hobbes’s account of political obligation and authority. While most scholars view Hobbes as a theorist who advocates complete submission to an absolute sovereign, she articulates a coherent Hobbesian account of the right to disobey and resist sovereign power. She wants not only to expound various aspects of Hobbes’s philosophy, but also to put him in conversation with other theorists of his time (e.g., Grotius, Pufendorf, Filmer, and Locke in the 17th century; Montesquieu, Voltaire, Kant, and Rousseau in the 18th century). She is interested in the transformation of social contract theory itself, the emergence of ideals of religious toleration, and the development of constitutionalism and democratic theory through the French and American revolutions.
Professor Sreedhar’s most recent work is in feminist history of philosophy. She has begun a second book, tentatively entitled Gender and Early Modern Social Contract Theory that takes up questions about the family, gender, and sexuality in 17th and 18th century political thought. In this book she will argue that, from the perspective of gender, there is a radical potential for equality inherent in modern social contract theory that has been present since its inception. She wants to trace the ways in which that potential has been recognized - or indeed, dismissed, purposefully ignored, and circumvented - by the contract theorists themselves, as well as by many of their critics. While there have been sweeping critiques of the contract tradition, alongside defenses and re-readings of individual members, Sreedhar aims to give a sustained investigation into the feminist potential of the tradition as a whole. She has received fellowships from the Boston University Center for the Humanities and the National Humanities Center in North Carolina to support this research.
She teaches courses on ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of law, the history of philosophy, and the philosophy of gender and sexuality.