Remembering Eminent Political Philosopher Roger Masters

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government Emeritus died on June 22.

Roger Davis Masters, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government Emeritus, died on June 22 at the Jack Byrne Center in Hanover. 

"A longtime presence on our campus, Roger retired from Dartmouth in 1998 but maintained an active teaching and research career after his retirement," Dean Elizabeth F. Smith said in a message to the Arts and Sciences community.   
Masters' work held political philosophy at its core and expanded over time to include writing on the natural world, biology, and environmental influences on human behavior. In political philosophy, his scholarly research emphasized Rousseau and Machiavelli and the implications of contemporary biology for understanding human nature.  

Masters authored several books, including The Nation is Burdened: American Foreign Policy in a Changing World, The Political Philosophy of Rousseau, The Nature of Politics, Beyond Relativism: Science and Human Values, Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power, and Fortune is a River: Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli's Magnificent Dream to Change the Course of Florentine History. 

In addition to his monographs, Masters was editor or co-editor of over 12 volumes and the author of more than 150 scholarly articles and journalistic essays in English, French, and German, including contributions to Quarterly Review of Biology, Ethology and Sociobiology, American Political Science Review, World Politics, and Politics and Life Sciences.  

Masters was born on June 8, 1933 in Boston. He earned his BA from Harvard College before completing two years of military service in the US Army. By 1961 he had earned his MA and PhD from the University of Chicago, where he spent time at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris and wrote his doctoral dissertation on Rousseau under the direction of Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey. After Chicago, Masters taught for several years at Yale before coming to Dartmouth in 1967.  
In addition to his primary appointment at Dartmouth, Masters served as executive committee chair at the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research, as a cultural attaché for the U.S. embassy in Paris, as a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School, and as an adjunct professor at Vermont Law School.
The Masters family will host a memorial service at the Roth Center for Jewish Life (5 Occam Ridge in Hanover) on Sunday, July 9 at 11 a.m. followed by a reception for friends and family.