School of Social and Political Science

Dr Mathias Thaler

Job Title

Senior Lecturer in Political Theory

Mathias Thaler's photo

Room number

Room 4.09

Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)



Mathias Thaler is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. His main research interest is in contemporary political theory. Thaler regularly teaches courses on democratic theory, populism, human rights and the morality of war and violence. He currently serves as Co-Director of Research in the School of Social and Political Science.

His publications have appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as the British Journal of Political ScienceConstellationsContemporary Political TheoryCritical Review of Social and Political PhilosophyEnvironmental PoliticsEuropean Journal of Political TheoryPerspectives on PoliticsPhilosophy & Social CriticismPolitical StudiesPolitical TheoryPolity and Review of Politics. Thaler is also the author of Naming Violence: A Critical Theory of Genocide, Torture and Terrorism (Columbia University Press 2018), Moralische Politik oder politische Moral? Eine Analyse aktueller Debatten zur internationalen Gerechtigkeit (Campus 2008), and co-editor (with Mihaela Mihai) of On the Uses and Abuses of Political Apologies (Palgrave 2014) and of Political Violence and the Imagination (Routledge 2020).

His recent research has been funded by the European Commission, through a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (2013–2017), and by the Leverhulme Trust, through a Research Fellowship (2020–2021). Thaler has moreover been the recipient of competitive awards from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Theodor Körner Fonds and the Gulbenkian Foundation, amongst others. Over the past ten years, Thaler has held visiting fellowships at the University of Oxford, the Université de Montréal, KU Leuven and the University of Sydney.

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Research interests

Research interests

Genocide, Global justice, Humanitarian intervention, Ideology, International theory, Marxism, Multiculturalism, Reconciliation, Political forgiveness, Democratic theory, Political violence and non-violence, Pragmatism, Critical theory, Just War Theory, Utopia, Dystopia, Art and politics

Topics interested in supervising

I am interested in supervising projects within the following fields of research: - Contemporary political theory; - History of political thought; - Democratic theory; - Political violence. - Utopianism. If you are interested in having me as your PhD supervisor, please check out our departmental webpage where we (political theorists) outline what we have to offer and what we expect from prospective PhD students: This webpage is very helpful in preparing the proposal: In case you are unsure as to whether I am the right person to serve as your supervisor, feel free to contact me via email with a short summary of your project as well as a recent CV.

Please see the links below (open in new windows) for more information:

Staff Hours and Guidance

During term, my office hours are from 15:00 to 17:00 on Thursday. Book a slot.

Outside term, please email for an appointment.

Please not that from May 1st, 2021, I am on research leave for one year. During this period I will not hold normal office hours.

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Thaler M. The power of utopia: The need for utopian imagination. IAI News. 2021 Nov 5.
Thaler M. Warning through extrapolation: On the practical aims of dystopia. Utopian Studies. 2021 Nov 1.
Thaler M. 'We are going to have to imagine our way out of this!': Utopian thinking and acting in the climate emergency. Ideology Theory Practice. 2021 Sep 13.
Thaler M. What if: Multispecies justice as the expression of utopian desire. Environmental Politics. 2021 Mar 22.
Tschakert P, Schlosberg D, Celermajer D, Rickards L, Winter C, Thaler M et al. Multispecies justice: Climate-just futures with, for and beyond humans. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. 2021 Mar;12(2):1-10. e699.
Celermajer D, Schlosberg D, Rickards L, Stewart-Harawira M, Thaler M, Tschakert P et al. Multispecies justice: Theories, challenges, and a research agenda for environmental politics. Environmental Politics. 2021 Jan;30(1-2):119-140.
Thaler M, (ed.), Mihai M, (ed.). Political Violence and the Imagination: Complicity, Memory and Resistance. 1 ed. London: Routledge, 2020. 146 p.
Thaler M. [Review of] Staged: Show Trials, Political Theater, and the Aesthetics of Judgment (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), by Minou Arjomand. Contemporary Political Theory. 2020 Jun 1;19(2):134-137.
Thaler M. [Review of] Between Specters of War and Visions of Peace: Dialogic Political Theory and the Challenges of Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019) by Gerald M. Mara. Perspectives on Politics. 2020 Mar;18(1):253–255.
Thaler M. Bleak dreams, not nightmares: Critical dystopias and the necessity of melancholic hope. Constellations. 2019 Dec 18;26(4):607-622.
Thaler M. Peace as a Minor, Grounded Utopia: On Prefigurative and Testimonial Pacifism. Perspectives on Politics. 2019 Dec 1;17(4):1003-1018.
Mihai M, Thaler M. Political violence and the imagination: An introduction. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. 2019 Aug 31;22(5):497-503.
Mihai M, (ed.), Thaler M, (ed.). Special Issue: Political Violence and the Imagination. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. 2019 Aug 31;22(5):497-636.
Thaler M. Radicalizing the critique of just war thinking. Humanity. 2019 Aug 21.
Thaler M. Reconciliation through estrangement. Review of Politics. 2018 Oct 30;80(4 (Fall 2018)):649–673.
Thaler M. Hope Abjuring Hope: On the Place of Utopia in Realist Political Theory. Political Theory. 2018 Oct 1;46(5):671-697. 1.
Thaler M. Unhinged Frames: Assessing Thought Experiments in Normative Political Theory. British journal of political science. 2018 Oct;48(4):1119-1141.
Thaler M. Naming Violence: A Critical Theory of Genocide, Torture, and Terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018. 248 p. (New Directions in Critical Theory).
Mihai M, (ed.), McNay L, Marchart O, Norval A, Paipais V, (ed.), Prozorov S et al. Democracy, critique and the ontological turn. Contemporary Political Theory. 2017 Nov 30;16(4):501-531.
Thaler M. A dialectical view of Prague. Philosophy and Social Criticism. 2017 Apr 6;43(3):343-344.
Thaler M. A Pragmatist Defence of the Ban on Torture: From Moral Absolutes to Constitutive Rules of Reasoning. Political Studies. 2016 Oct 3;64(3):765-781.
Thaler M. Norms, stories and ideologies: What we talk about when we talk about political secularism. In Colom González F, D'Amato G, editors, Multireligious Society: Dealing with Religious Diversity in Theory and Practice. Routledge. 2016. p. 29. 2
Thaler M. Political Imagination and the Crime of Crimes: Coming to Terms with "Genocide" and "Genocide Blindness". Contemporary Political Theory. 2014 Nov 1;13(4):358-379.
Thaler M. On Time in Just War Theory: From Chronos to Kairos. Polity. 2014 Oct;46(4):520-546.
Thaler M. Neo-Grotian Predicaments: On Larry May's Theory of International Criminal Law. Journal of International Political Theory. 2014 Oct;10(3):345-360.
Thaler M, (ed.), Mihai M, (ed.). On the Uses and Abuses of Political Apologies. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
Thaler M, Kraus PA, (ed.). Norms, Stories, and Ideologies: What We Talk About When We Talk About Political Secularism: RECODE Working Paper Series. RECODE – Responding to Complex Diversity in Europe and Canada, 2013.
Thaler M, Rosas JC, González I. Filosofia Política. In Galvão P, editor, Filosofia: Uma Introdução por Disciplinas. Lisbon: Edições 70. 2012. p. 175-213. (Extra Coleção).
Thaler M. Deep Contextualism and Radical Criticism: The Argument for a Division of Labor in Contemporary Political Theory. In Castro Caldas JM, Neves V, editors, Facts, Values and Objectivity in Economics. New York: Routledge. 2012. p. 138-157
Thaler M. Zwei Begründungsmuster für interkulturelles Philosophieren: Two Justifications of Intercultural Philosophy. In Gmainer-Pranzl F, Graness A, editors, Perspektiven interkulturellen Philosophierens: Beiträge zur Geschichte und Methodik von Polylogen. Wien: Facultas. 2012. p. 38-44
Thaler M. Just Pretending: Political Apologies for Historical Injustice and Vice's Tribute to Virtue. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. 2012;15(3):259-278.
Mihai M, Thaler M. Interview with Alessandro Ferrara, University "Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy: Interview topic: Democratic Openness. 2012.
Thaler M. Comment on Wilfried Hinsch. Ideal justice and rational dissent: A critique of Amartya Sen's The Idea of Justice. Analyse and Kritik. 2011 Dec 1;33(2):387-393.
Thaler M. Was zeichnet ein politisches Fehlurteil aus? Überlegungen zum Verhältnis von Wahrheit und Politik. In Lehmann S, Loidolt S, editors, Urteil und Fehlurteil. Wien: Turia + Kant. 2011. p. 269-282
Thaler M, (ed.), Toldy T, (ed.). Secularismos hoje. e-cadernos CES. 2011;(13).
Toldy T, Thaler M. Introduçao. e-cadernos CES. 2011;(13).
Thaler M. Comment on Wilfried Hinsch: Ideal Justice and Rational Dissent: A Critique of Amartya Sen's Idea of Justice. Analyse and Kritik. 2011;33(2):387-393.
Thaler M. Political Judgment Beyond Paralysis and Heroism. European Journal of Political Theory. 2011;10(2):225-253.
Thaler M. The Illusion of Purity: Chantal Mouffe's Realist Critique of Cosmopolitanism. Philosophy and Social Criticism. 2010;36(7):785-800.
Thaler M. Review of Religious America, Secular Europe? A Theme and Variation. Religion and Society. 2010;1(1):191-193.
Thaler M. Review of Secularism, Religion and Multicultural Citizenship. Religion and Society. 2010;1(1):191-194.
Thaler M. From Public Reason to Reasonable Accommodation: Negotiating the Place of Religion in the Public Sphere. Diacritica. 2009;23(2):249-270.
Thaler M. Moralische Politik oder politische Moral? Eine Analyse aktueller Debatten zur internationalen Gerechtigkeit. Frankfurt/New York: Campus Verlag, 2008.
Thaler M, (ed.), Schelkshorn H, (ed.). Gerechter Krieg? polylog: Zeitschrift für interkulturelles Philosophieren. 2007 Jan 15;(16).
Thaler M, (ed.), Wimmer FM, (ed.). Menschenrechte zwischen Wirtschaft, Recht und Ethik. polylog: Zeitschrift für interkulturelles Philosophieren. 2006;(14).