Faculty Profile

Reed Davis

Reed Davis

Professor Emeritus of Political Science

Email: rdavis@spu.edu

Education: BA, University of Pennsylvania, 1978; MA, University of Pennsylvania, 1978; PhD, University of Virginia, 1991. At SPU 1989-2021. Emeritus since 2021.

Reed Davis’s scholarship revolves primarily around exploring the work of Raymond Aron.  Recognized on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the leading intellectuals produced by France in the twentieth century, Aron poured his remarkable talents and energies into two closely related vocations.  As a sociologist at the Sorbonne and the Collège de France, Aron explored the significance of moral judgments for political action, especially in the field of international relations, an exercise of central concern in Reed’s book on Aron, A Politics of Understanding:  The International Thought of Raymond Aron.  As a journalist for Le Figaro and later L’Express, Aron turned out hundreds of newspaper articles on current events.  Taken together, Aron’s theoretical and practical writings constitute a body of work that finds few equals in recent history.  

In recent years, Reed has turned his attention to the influence of Darwinian evolution on the social sciences, especially in international relations theory.  His most recent article on Darwin and the social sciences, “Up from Nihilism:  Classical Realism and the Case against a Darwinian Theory of International Relations,” appears in the journal Modern Age.

What binds Reed’s work on Aron and Darwinian naturalism together is a preoccupation with the reality of human freedom.  Alexis de Tocqueville once argued that democracy cannot long survive if citizens believe that their actions are governed by forces beyond their control.  Consequently, Reed stresses the importance of civic engagement in every class he teaches, whether it be his introductory class on politics or his advanced seminars dedicated to political philosophers ranging from Plato to Marx. 

Reed also directs The Augustinian Fellowship, a study abroad program located in Honfleur and St. Maximin, France.  Students can earn ten credits in political science studying in France with Reed.  Reed was also active in state and local politics in Washington State for some ten years, serving as chairman of the King County Republican Party from 1994-2002 and running for the United States Senate in 2004.  He occasionally serves as a commentator on state and national elections for both radio and television. 

Educational Philosophy:  “I believe that teaching is an activity that only begins in the classroom.  Students should be directly exposed to a faculty member’s professional interests as well as to his or her lectures on a given set of topics. If students are going to get excited about politics, for example, I believe that they need to get involved in political campaigns.  The same holds for a field like French intellectual history:  the only way to get students interested in something like French intellectual history is to take them to France.  In a grace-filled institution like Seattle Pacific, then, education should somehow involve developing close working relationships between students and faculty members.”

Selected Publications

  • A Politics of Understanding: The International Thought of Raymond Aron, LSU Press, 2009.

  • Moral Reasoning and Statecraft:  Essays Presented to Kenneth W. Thompson, University Press of America, 1988.

  • “A Once and Future Greatness:  Raymond Aron, Charles DeGaulle and the Politics of Grandeur,” International History Review 33, 2010.

  • “From the Nomad’s Gonads to Madame Bovary’s Ovaries:  Biopolitics and its Discontents,” The Political Science Reviewer 38, 2009.

  • “Le dessein intelligent:  Une nouvelle critique de l’evolution darinwienne,” La Revue Reformée 245, janvier, 2008.  

Please view Dr. Davis's CV (PDF) for additional publications.