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Samuel Freeman works in social and political philosophy, moral philosophy, and philosophy of law. He has written books on Liberalism and Distributive Justice (2018), Justice and the Social Contract (Oxford 2007), and on the political philosophy of John Rawls (Rawls, Routledge, 2007). He edited the Cambridge Companion to Rawls (2003), as well as John Rawls’s Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy (2007) and his Collected Papers (1999). He co-edited Reasons and Recognition: Essays on the Philosophy of T.M. Scanlon (2012). He recently published papers on ‘Democracy, Religion and Public Reason (2020), distributive justice and Rawls’s difference principle (2018) and on social contract doctrine and the rights of people with severe mental disabilities (2018) He is currently working on a manuscript on classical liberalism, libertarianism, and the high liberal tradition.
Professor Freeman has taught at the University of Pennsylvania since 1985, the year he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard University. John Rawls was his dissertation supervisor. Prior to graduate study, Freeman was a lawyer for two years, clerking on the U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, and the North Carolina Supreme Court. He received both his A.B. and J.D. degrees from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a Morehead Scholar as an undergraduate at UNC, and studied philosophy for two years in Germany (at the Universities of Goettingen and Munich) before entering law school.
Professor Freeman regularly taught courses in political philosophy and philosophy of law at Penn from 1985 to 2021: on justice, the history of modern political philosophy, social contract doctrine and utilitarianism, liberalism and economic justice, and on philosophy and the Constitution. He was instrumental in initiating the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Program at Penn in 1994, and served as its Chair from 1996-2004. He served as Graduate Chair in Philosophy from 1993-1996, and again from 2015-2018. Professor Freeman retired in June 2021. He continues to teach one seminar per year, until 2025.
Professor Freeman is married to the sociologist Annette Lareau of the University of Pennsylvania. They have a daughter, Rachel, son-in-law Miguel, three granddaughters, Cristina, Noelia and Sara, and a grandson, Sammy, all living in Seville, Spain. They also have a son, Dillon, who is autistic and lives near them in a supervised home near Philadelphia.
Freeman was a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books from 2010 until recently. He sings baritone and sang with the Philadelphia Singers Chorale from 2009 to 2015 in choral performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra in numerous concerts each year. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017.