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headshot of Maxim A. Pensky

Maxim A. Pensky

Professor; Co-Director

Philosophy; Institute of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP)


  • BA, Kenyon College
  • MA, PhD, Boston College

Research Interests

  • Social and political philosophy
  • continental philosophy
  • philosophy of law and international relations


  • Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • 1997-1998

More Info



  • Wendy Brown, Peter E. Gordon, and Max Pensky, Authoritarianism: Three Inquiries in Critical Theory, University of Chicago Press, 2018 | View on Amazon
  • The Ends of Solidarity: Discourse Theory in Ethics and Politics, SUNY Press 2008 | View on Amazon
  • Melancholy Dialectics: Walter Benjamin and the Play of Mourning, Massachusetts, 1992, Second Edition 2002 | View on Amazon


  • "Of Humanitarians and Straw Men: On Rajan Menon's The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention (review essay), Journal of Genocide Research 21.1, 2019.
  • "Critique and Disappointment," in Espen Hammer, Peter E. Gordon, and Max Pensky, editors, The Blackwell Handbook to Adorno, Blackwell, 2019.
  • "Impunity: A Philosophical Analysis," in Morten Bergsmo, editor, Philosophical Foundations of International Criminal Law, vol. 2, CILRAP Publishing, 2019.
  • "Western Marxism: Revolutions in Theory," in Peter Gordon and Warren Breckman, Editors, The Cambridge History of Modern European Thought, 2019.
  • "In Search of the Negative in Rahel Jaeggi's Kritik von Lebensformen," in Amy Allen and Eduardo Mendieta, editors, From Alienation to Forms of Life: The Critical Theory of Rahel Jaeggi, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018.
  • "Toward a Critical Theory of Death: Adorno on Dying Today," Journal of Adorno Studies 1.1, spring 2016.
  • "Two Cheers for the Impunity Norm," Philosophy and Social Criticism, winter-spring 2016.
  • "Amnesties and Jus Post Bellum," in Larry May, ed., Jus Post Bellum, Cambridge University Press, 2013 | Download article (.pdf, 253kb).
  • "Anti-Dialectics: Arnold Gehlen and the Fate of Conservative Philosophical Anthropology in Germany," in Peter Hohendahl and Erhard Schuetz, eds., Konservative politische Kultur nach 1945 in Deutschland und in die USA, 2012.
  • "Cosmopolitan Memory," in Gerard Delanty, ed., Routledge Handbook of Cosmopolitanism, Routledge, 2012.
  • "Solidarity with the Past and the Work of Translation," in Eduardo Mendieta, Jonathan Van Antwerpen and Craig C. Calhoun, eds., Habermas and Religion, Polity Press, 2012 | Download article (.pdf, 184kb).
  • (with Mark Freeman) "The Amnesty Controversy in International Law," in Leigh Payne and Francesca Lessa, eds., Amnesty in the Age of Human Rights Accountability: Comparative and International Perspectives, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2012. Portuguese translation in Marcello Torelly et. al., eds., A Anistia na Era da Responsabilização – o Brasil em perspectiva internacional e comparada," Ministry of Justice of Brazil, 2011 | Download article (.pdf, 284kb).
  • "Three Kinds of Ruin: Heidegger, Benjamin, and Sebald," in Poligrafi, 2011.
  • "Habermas's Intellectual Contexts," in Barbara Fultner, ed., Habermas: Basic Concepts, Acumen, 2011.
  • "Social Solidarity and Intersubjective Recognition: Axel Honneth's Struggle for Recognition," in Danielle Petherbridge, ed., Axel Honneth: Critical Essays with a Reply by Axel Honneth, Brill, 2011, pp 125-154.
  • "Critical Theory and World Politics," in D.S.A. Bell, editor, Ethics and World Politics, Oxford University Press, 2010, pp 35-55.
  • "Contributions to a Theory of Storms: Historical Knowing and Historical Progress in Kant and Benjamin," The Philosophical Forum, vol. XLI, nos. 1 & 2, Spring/Summer 2010, pp 149-174.
  • "Transition, Amnesty, and Social Trust: Lessons from South Africa," in Joseph Lewandowski, editor, Trust and Transitions: Social Capital in a Changing World, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009 | Download article (.pdf, 172kb).
  • "Pragmatism and Solidarity with the Past: Mead, Benjamin and the Ends of Memory," in Chad Kautzer and Eduardo Mendieta, editors, Pragmatism, Nation, and Race: Community in the Age of Empire, University of Indiana Press, 2009.
  • "Critical Theory and the Politics of Memory," in Philosophy Today, Vol. 52, Fall 2008, 114-124
  • "Amnesty on Trial: Impunity, Accountability, and the Norms of International Law," in Ethics and Global Politics 1:1-2, June 2008 | Download article (.pdf, 238kb).
  • "Two Cheers for Cosmopolitanism: Cosmopolitan Solidarity as Second-Order Inclusion," in Journal of Social Philosophy Volume XXXVIII Number 1, Spring 2007, 165-185.
  • "Geheimmittel: Dialectical and Advertising Images in Benjamin's Arcades Project", in Andrew Benjamin and Beatrice Hanssen, eds., Walter Benjamin Studies Vol. II: The Arcades Project, Continuum Press, 2007.
  • "Solidarity as Fact or Norm?" in Philosophy and Social Criticism 32:7, Fall 2006.
  • "Dreamtime, Memory, Destruction: Walter Benjamin's Urban Renewal," in Cities Spring-Summer 2005.
  • "Natural History: the Life and Afterlife of a Concept in Adorno," in Critical Horizons, Vol. 2:5, 2005. Reprinted in Danielle Petherbridge, editor, Contemporary Perspectives in Critical Social Philosophy, Brill 2005.
  • "Benhabib's Claims: Multicultural Democracy and Critical Social Theory" in Constellations 11:4, June 2004, pp. 258-265.
  • "Method and Time: Walter Benjamin's Dialectical Images," in David Ferris, editor, The Cambridge Companion to Walter Benjamin, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 177-198 | Download article (.pdf, 111kb).