Pittsburgh -- Robert Morris University political science professor Philip Harold has received a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study how the language of values has influenced American politics.
Harold, an assistant professor of political science, will spend the fall semester studying at The Catholic University in Eichstatt, Germany, about 90 minutes from Munich. Harold will conduct research at the university's Center for Marriage and Family Studies for his next book, tentatively titled “Against Values.” The book will explore what politicians mean when they use phrases such as "family values" and what the implications are for political discourse.
Harold said that talk of values also is pervasive in German politics, and Germany was home to some of history’s most famous values theorists, including Marx, Nietzche and Kant. In the United States, politicians frequently use the term “family values” even though its meaning is unclear and open to the interpretation of the audience, according to Harold.
“What I’m anticipating I’m going to argue is that this language is working in the opposite way than what the family values crowd intends. They are expressing it in a way that is undermining what they are trying to say,” said Harold, who is the co-director of the RMU Honors Program.
Harold’s previous book, “Prophetic Politics: Emmanuel Levinas and the Sanctification of Suffering,” examined a Lithuanian-born French thinker who emphasized ethical responsibility to others as the starting point for philosophy. Levinas’s work was influenced by his Jewish faith and his attempts to come to terms with the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of his relatives in Lithuania. Harold’s book examines the political ramifications of Levinas’s work.
Harold is RMU’s second Fulbright Scholar. Last year, RMU economist Stephen Foreman spent a year lecturing on health care at Crimea State Medical University in Ukraine.