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About the Author

Laurence Houlgate is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California.  He received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has previously held professorships at the University of California, Santa Barbara and George Mason University, Virginia.  He has published many articles in legal and philosophical journals and is the author of The Child and the State; Family and State; Morals, Marriage and Parenthood; and  Philosophy, Law and the Family: A New Introduction to the Philosophy of Law.  His most recent project is the publication of a six volume series of philosophy guides for beginning students, under the general title The Smart Student's Guides to Philosophical Classics.

Larry Houlgate




Ph.D. Philosophy, 1967, University of California, Los Angeles.   

Dissertation committee: Herbert Morris (chair), Joel Feinberg, A.I. Melden, Keith Gunderson.

M.A. Philosophy, University of California, Los Angeles.

B.A. Philosophy, California State University, Los Angeles.

Areas of specialization:  Philosophy of Law, Social Ethics, Ethical Theory, Ethics and Family Policy, Medical Ethics.

Areas of competence:  Political Philosophy, History of Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mind, Critical Thinking.



Professor Emeritus, Philosophy, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California.

Previous appointments:

Professor, Philosophy Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, 1979-2005.


Department Chair, 1990-1995.

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religion, George Mason University, Virginia, 1973-79.

Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Reed College, Oregon, 1972-73.     


Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, 1966-72.

Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, California State University, Fullerton, California, 1964-66.





Understanding Thomas Hobbes: The Smart Student's Guide to Leviathan (Seattle, Kindle Direct Publishing, 2020)


Understanding Immanuel Kant: The Smart Student's Guide to Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (Seattle.Kindle Direct Publishing, 2018).

Understanding John Stuart Mill: The Smart Student's Guide to Utilitarianism and On Liberty (Seattle.Kindle Direct Publishing, 2018).

Understanding John Locke: The Smart Student's Guide to Second Treatise of Government (Seattle.Kindle Direct Publishing, 2017).

Philosophy, Law and the Family: A New Introduction to the Philosophy of Law (New York: Springer International Publishing, 2017).

Understanding Plato: The Smart Student’s Guide to the Socratic Dialogues and the Republic (Seattle: Kindle Direct Publishing, 2016).

Morals, Marriage and Parenthood: An Introduction to Family Ethics (Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Co, 1999). 

Family and State (New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield, 1988). 

The Child and the State (New York and Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980).  


Articles in Anthologies, Encyclopedias, Journals:

"John Locke on Immigration and Naturalization: Membership and Property in the State of Nature," Eds. Ann Cudd and Win-Chiat Lee, Immigration and Citizenship (New York: Springer International Publishing, 2016).

"Family Law," in Christopher B. Grey, The Philosophy of Law: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland, 1999), pp. 288-290.

“Three Concepts of Children's Constitutional Rights: Reflections on the Enjoyment Theory," University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law (Vol. 2, No. 1, 1999), pp. 77-94..


"Children and Ethical Theory (revised)" in L. Becker and C. Becker, eds., Encyclopedia of Ethics, Second Edition (New York: Garland Pub. Co., 1999).

"What is Legal Intervention in the Family? Family Law and Family Privacy," Law and Philosophy, vol. 17, no. 2 (March,1998), pp. 141-158.

"Must the Personal be Political?  Family Law and the Concept of Family," The International Journal of Law, Policy and Family, volume 12 (1998), pp. 107-119.

"Are Juveniles Still 'Persons' Under the United States Constitution?" (with Philip Fetzer), The International Journal of Children's Rights, vol. 5 (1997), pp. 319-339.

"The Status of Children in a Liberal Society," Law and Philosophy, vol. 5, no. 1 (September, 1996).

"Is Divorce Immoral?" in Christina Sommers and Fred Sommers, Vice and Virtue in Everyday Life, 4th ed. (New York: Harcourt, 1997).

"Ethical Theory and the Family," in Diana T. Myers, K. Kipnis and C. Murphy, eds. Kindred Matters: Rethinking the Philosophy of the Family (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994).

"Children and Ethical Theory," in L. Becker and C. Becker, eds.  Encyclopedia of Ethics (New York: Garland Pub. Co., 1992).

"Whose Child?  In re Baby M and the Biological Preference Principle," Logos, vol. 9, 1988.


"Divorce Child Custody Disputes," Journal of Divorce, Spring/Summer, 1987, pp. 15-26.


"PMS, Mental Abnormality and Legal Responsibility," in B.E. Ginsburg and B.F. Carter, eds. Premenstrual Syndrome: Ethical and Legal Implications in a Biomedical Perspective (New York: Plenum Press, 1987).

"Review: Wringe's Children's Rights: A Philosophical Study, Canadian Philosophical Reviews, vol. 3, 1983, pp. 253-54.   


"Review:   Grisso's Juveniles Waiver of Rights, Ethics, vol.  94, 1982, pp. 336-37.

"Children, Paternalism and Rights to Liberty," in Onora O'Neill and W. Ruddick, eds. Having Children: Philosophical and Legal Reflections on Parenthood (New York: Oxford University

Press, 1982).   


Reprinted in: David A.J. Richards, ed. Readings on Justice and Society, 3rd Edition (Aspen, Colorado: Aspen Institute, 1987).

"The Child as a Person: Recent Supreme Court Decisions," in W.  Aiken and H. LaFollette, eds. Whose Child?  Children's Rights, Parental Authority and State Power (New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams, 1980).

"Medical Research Involving Children," Archives for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy, vol. 12, 1979, pp. 123-28. Reprinted in: Glasgow House Quarterly, vol. 1, pp. 27-38.

"Rights, Health, and Mental Disease," Wayne Law Review, vol. 22, 976, pp. 87-95.

"Excuses and the Criminal Law," Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. 13, 1975, pp. 187-95.

"Virtue is Knowledge," The Monist, vol. 54, 1970, pp. 142-53.

"The Platonic Minos and the Classical Theory of Natural Law,” (with  R.F. Hathaway), American Journal of Jurisprudence, vol.14, 1969, pp. 105-24.

"Knowledge and Responsibility," American Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 5, 1968, pp. 109110.

"Malcolm on Mind and the Human Form," Mind, vol. 77, 1968, pp. 584-77.

"Ignorantia Juris: A Plea for Justice," Ethics, vol. 78, 1967, pp. 32-42.

"Mistake in Performance," Mind, vol. 75, 1966, pp. 257-61.

"Causation, Recipes and Theory," Theoria, vol. 29, 1963, pp. 265-76.

"The  Paradigm-Case Argument and 'Possible Doubt'," Inquiry,  vol. 5, 1962, pp. 318-24.

Other Media:

"The Family," an 80-page manuscript for the audio tape series Morality in our Age: The Audio Classics Series (Knoxville: Knowledge Products, 1995).  

Narrated by Cliff Robertson.   Two cassettes, total playing time 2 1/2 - 3 hours.

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