Rahul Sagar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics at Princeton University. His primary research interests are in political theory and public policy. He has written on a range of topics in ancient and modern political theory including executive power, moderation, tyranny, and political realism. He is also deeply interested in the politics and society of India, especially twentieth century Indian political thought. His first book, Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy has been published by Princeton University Press. He has recently started work on a second book entitled Have You Been to Kazanistan? where he makes the case for respecting moderate albeit less than fully liberal-democratic regimes such as those found in Singapore and Hong Kong. His work has been published in a number of edited volumes and peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Political Philosophy, The Journal of Politics, International Affairs, and Polity. He has a PhD in Government from Harvard University (2007) and a BA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Balliol College, Oxford University (2000). He has been cited by or appeared on CNN, BBC, NPR, Boston Review, Christian Science Monitor, Deutsche Welle, Forbes, and Today.
My research investigates moral puzzles in contemporary politics and public policy. I address these puzzles in a manner that is realistic rather than abstract or speculative. That is, I take politics as it can be in our often violent and conflicted world, not as it could be under ideal conditions. Hence, the advice and solutions I offer are sensitive to context and consequences. In slightly more technical language, I do problem-driven political theory, from a consequentialist perspective, using realist methods.
My first book, Secrets and Leaks, studies the predicament that state secrecy creates for liberal democracies. It shows that though whistleblowing and leaking constitute the most durable means of uncovering the misuse of secrecy, unauthorized disclosures of these kinds can also be made rashly or maliciously. As a result, liberal democracies need to guard against not only too much but also too little secrecy. The right balance, I conclude, can only be struck when both the government and the press act responsibly.
I have recently started work on my second book project, Have You Been to Kazanistan?. In it I make the case for respecting ‘decent regimes’, that is, regimes that may not be fully liberal or democratic, but which provide more stability and well-being than a democratic regime can under troubled conditions. The value of such regimes becomes clear when we see how democratization has tended to generate corrupt, violent, and illiberal regimes in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. In such cases, I argue, the United States ought to support an equivalent to a decent regime–namely, internationally administered trusteeships.
Presently the bulk of my time is devoted to completing a co-authored manuscript, provisionally entitled How to be Great?: India’s Quest to Find Its Place in the World. This book will examine the role that Indian intellectuals, administrators, and elites believe India can and ought to play in international politics. I am responsible for the first half of the manuscript, which traces Indian thinking on war and peace since the mid-nineteenth century. The rare archival materials unearthed during my research into this topic will be published in the form of a Reader.
Finally, I am involved in editing two volumes of essays, one on the Constituent Assembly Debates, and the other on the ideas of Lee Kuan Yew. Both these volumes are in the process of being compiled and will be ready in 2014.
Please click on the icons below for a brief overview of these projects. For more details, including downloadable published essays, working papers, and related syllabi, please visit: scholar.princeton.edu/rsagar
Department of Politics
Princeton, NJ 08540
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