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Faculty Fellow

Joel Isaac

Associate Professor of Social Thought and History University of Chicago


Joel Isaac works on the history of modern economic, social, and political thought. His current book project, Fraught with Ought: Philosophy and the Social Sciences since Wittgenstein, examines the long and controversial debate about the distinction between "positive" and "normative" science, with a special focus on the claim of economists that there is, in economics, a clear dividing line between positive (or predictive) and normative forms of economic theory. His first book, Working Knowledge: Making the Human Sciences from Parsons to Kuhn (Harvard, 2012), won the Gladstone Prize of the Royal Historical Society. He is the co-editor of States of Exception in American History (Chicago, 2020), The Worlds of American Intellectual History (Oxford, 2017) and Uncertain Empire: American History and the Idea of the Cold War (2012).


Economic Planning and Democratic Politics: History, Theory, and Practice

2023 – 2026