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Professor Jonathan Jacobs Appointed Presidential Scholar at John Jay College

October 18, New York, NY – John Jay College of Criminal Justice announced today the appointment of prominent academic, Jonathan Jacobs, as a Presidential Scholar of Philosophy. Professor Jacobs joined the John Jay faculty in January 2011 and has been named the Director of the College's Institute of Criminal Justice Ethics and Editor of the journal Criminal Justice Ethics. At present, he is also the Chair of the Department of Philosophy.

"Professor Jacobs has made significant contributions to the discipline of philosophy. He has brought a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to the multiple roles he has undertaken since his recent arrival. We are pleased to welcome him to John Jay's stellar cadre of presidential scholars," said President Jeremy Travis.

"At John Jay one is part of a community of scholars and students exploring justice with a view to fuller understanding for the sake of excellent practice. It is a way to participate in liberal education in the most genuine sense," said Professor Jacobs.

Prior to his appointment, Professor Jacobs was the Richard J. and Jean Head Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Arts & Humanities at Colgate University in New York.

Much of his scholarship involves showing the ways in which resources from the history of philosophy can be constructively employed in contemporary debates concerning enduring, fundamental issues. He is particularly interested in the question of whether individuals are responsible for their own characters, the issue of how character makes a difference to moral judgment and reasoning, and issues concerning the relations between ethics and political order.

Professor Jacobs is the author of nine books including Law, Reason, and Morality in Medieval Jewish Philosophy--his most recent--and editor of two, and author of sixty journal articles. He is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, and has held Visiting Scholar or Visiting Professor positions at Oxford, The University of St. Andrews, The University of Edinburgh, the Oxford Centre for Hebrew & Jewish Studies, and the Social Philosophy & Policy Center at Bowling Green State University. He has been awarded several grants and fellowships, including multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Earhart Foundation, and the Littauer Foundation.

He is working on his next book, Criminal Justice and the Liberal Polity and he will be presenting papers in India and in Israel next semester in addition to giving numerous invited lectures in the U.S. He has organized a multi-disciplinary working-group at John Jay—'Agency, Character, and Identity: Ethical Implications for Reentry and Reintegration'—to explore issues concerning the ways in which reentering ex-offenders understand their own accountability and how they might be better prepared to participate again in civil society.

Among his books are three aimed at students; A Philosopher's Compass, which is a study of how philosophical issues are motivated and how they are formulated, Dimensions of Moral Theory, which is an introduction to metaethics and moral psychology, and Aristotle's Virtues: Nature, Knowledge, and Human Good, a study of the main elements of Aristotle's thought with a focus on how they shape his conception of ethics and politics.

Professor Jacobs earned a BA from Wesleyan University in 1977 and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

Established in 1964, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York is an international leader in educating for justice. It offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit