Robert S. Taylor

Robert Taylor Portrait

Position Title
Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

676 Kerr Hall
1 Shields Avenue, Davis CA 95616


  • Ph.D., Political Science, UC Berkeley, 2002
  • Ph.D., Economics, Duke University, 1995
  • B.A., Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, summa cum laude, 1991


Robert S. Taylor is a professor of political science at the University of California, Davis. He specializes in contemporary analytic political philosophy and the history of liberal political thought. He has written numerous articles on Kant, Mill, Rawls, autonomy, self-ownership, and commercial republicanism, and he published his first book, Reconstructing Rawls: The Kantian Foundations of Justice as Fairness, in 2011. His second book, entitled Exit Left: Markets and Mobility in Republican Thought, was published by Oxford University Press in March 2017.

Research Focus

book cover for Exit Left

Please visit The Political Theory Review for an audio interview with Taylor about Exit Left.

How can citizens best protect themselves from the arbitrary power of abusive spouses, tyrannical bosses, and corrupt politicians? Taylor’s book Exit Left makes the case that in each of these three spheres the answer is the same: exit. By promoting open and competitive markets and providing the information and financial resources necessary to enable exit, we can empower people’s voices and offer them an escape from abuse and exploitation. This will advance a conception of freedom, viz. freedom as non-domination (FND), that is central to contemporary republican thought. Neorepublicans have typically promoted FND through constitutional means (separation of powers, judicial review, the rule of law, and federalism) and participatory ones (democratic elections and oversight), but Exit Left focuses on economic means, ones that have been neglected by contemporary republicans but were commonly invoked in the older, commercial-republican tradition of Alexander Hamilton, Immanuel Kant, and Adam Smith. This book’s revival and revision of commercial republicanism will enlarge republican practice by encouraging greater use of market mechanisms, even as it hews closely to existing republican theory.


Please visit Taylor's PhilPapers page to find copies of these and other writings.

  • Taylor, R. S. (2018) Donation without domination: private charity and republican liberty, Journal of Political Philosophy, 26(4): 441-62.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2017) Exit Left: Markets and Mobility in Republican Thought, Oxford University Press. x + 130 pp.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2013) Market freedom as antipower, American Political Science Review, 107(3): 593-602.
  • Chiu, Y., and R. S. Taylor. (2011) The self-extinguishing despot: Millian democratization, Journal of Politics, 73(4): 1239-50.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2011) Reconstructing Rawls: The Kantian Foundations of Justice as Fairness, Penn State University Press; paperback edition 2012. xxiv + 336 pp.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2009) Rawlsian affirmative action, Ethics, 119(3): 476-506.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2006) Democratic transitions and the progress of absolutism in Kant’s political thought, Journal of Politics, 68(3): 556-70.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2005) Kantian personal autonomy, Political Theory, 33(5): 602-28.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2004) A Kantian defense of self-ownership, Journal of Political Philosophy, 12(1): 65-78.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2003) Rawls’s defense of the priority of liberty: a Kantian reconstruction, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 31(3): 246-71.


Taylor teaches undergraduate courses on perfectionist political theories (POL 4), the social-contract tradition (POL 118B), and distributive justice (POL 116, 119) and graduate courses on Kant (POL 218, 219B), Rawls (POL 219C), republicanism (POL 219C), and theories of liberal democracy (POL 220).