John T. Scott

Professor Department of Political Science

Position Title
Distinguished Professor of Political Science

683 Kerr Hall


  • Ph.D., Political Science, University of Chicago, 1992
  • M.A., Political Science, University of Chicago, 1988
  • B.A., cum laude with High Honors in Government, Dartmouth College, 1985


John T. Scott studies the history of political thought, focusing on early modern thought from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. He arrived at UC Davis in 2000, having previously been a faculty member at the University of Houston with a dual appointment in Political Science and the Honors College.

Research Focus

John Scott's primary research is in the history of political philosophy, with a specialization in early modern political thought. Most of his work has focused on the thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, although he has also published studies of Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, Diderot, and Smith. He has a secondary research interest in experimental approaches to distributive justice, and related areas such as perceptions of legitimacy of Supreme Court decisions.

Selected Publications

  • Scott, J. T. (forthcoming) Rousseau's Reader, University of Chicago Press

  • Scott J. T. & Schwarze, M. (2019) Mutual Sympathy and the Moral Economy: Adam Smith Reviews Rousseau, Journal of Politics

  • Scott, J. T.  (2018) The Fortune of Machiavelli’s Unarmed Prophet, Journal of Politics

  • Scott, J. T. (2016) The Routledge Guide to Machiavelli's "The Prince"
  • Scott, J. T. (2014) The Illustrative Education of Rousseau's EmileAmerican Political Science Review
  • Scott, J. T. (trans. and ed.) (2012) Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Major Political Writings, University of Chicago Press
  • Scott, J. T., & Zaretsky, R. (2009) The Philosophers' Quarrel: Rousseau, Hume, and the Limits of Human Understanding. Yale University Press


John T. Scott offers undergraduate and graduate courses in the history of political thought. On the undergraduate level he regularly teaches the introductory course in political theory (POL 4) and the upper-division courses in the history of political thought sequence (POL 118B & 118C). At the graduate level, in recent years he has offered seminars on Machiavelli, Montaigne, Hobbes, religion and politics in the 17th century, Rousseau, and Adam Smith, as well as the core graduate seminar in political theory (POL 220).


  • Social Sciences Dean’s Leadership Award, University of California, Davis, 2015
  • University of California, Davis Graduate Student Research Mentorship Award, 2011-12 (with Michelle A. Schwarze)
  • Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate Teaching and Mentorship, University of California, Davis, 2011