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Roger Masters

Roger Davis Masters (born June 8, 1933) studied at Harvard (A.B. 1955, Summa cum Laude), served in the U.S. Army (1955-57) and completed his M.A. (1958) and Ph.D. (1961) at the University of Chicago. After teaching at Yale (1961-1967), he has been on the faculty at Dartmouth College (1967 to present) as well as Cultural Attaché at the American Embassy in Paris (1969-1971). He is currently the Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government Emeritus and Research Professor in the Department of Government at Dartmouth.


Academic career

Roger Masters has made deep and wide-ranging contributions in social science. The central concern of his career has been how biological circumstances influence individual behavior and social outcomes.

Masters began his career in political philosophy as a student of Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago. His dissertation and subsequent book (Masters 1968) helped demonstrate the importance of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in modern thought. He translated and edited influential new editions of Rousseau’s works (Masters 1964a, 1978), and later co-edited the only complete English edition of his Collected Writings (Masters and Kelly 1990). The role of natural science in early political thought is also addressed in books on Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci (Masters 1996, 1998).

Masters’ investigation of how nature influences human societies led to significant contributions in the field of international relations (Masters 1964b, 1967) as well as human ethology and sociobiology (Masters 1983, 1989, Masters and McGuire 1994). This work included pioneering laboratory experiments in political communication (Masters 1981, Masters et al. 1987). Later, Masters’ research on biology and human behavior led to new epidemiological evidence regarding the behavioral impacts of neurotoxins, first on the consequences of lead poisoning (Masters, Hone and Doshi 1998), and then on the links between a common method of water fluoridation to elevated blood lead and a higher prevalence of violent crime, substance abuse and learning disabilities (Masters and Coplan 1999, Masters et al. 2000).

Masters’ work has pioneered the application of natural science discoveries to the social sciences and government policy. He was a founding member and serves on the Executive Council of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences, and leads an ongoing consultancy on biology and politics for the U.S. Department of Defense in collaboration with anthropologist Lionel Tiger and neuroscientist Michael T. McGuire. He served on the 2006-07 “Get the Lead out of Vermont” task force, and is frequently consulted by other government agencies or activists concerned with the behavioral consequences of environmental toxins.

References cited and other major work

Principal books

Masters, Roger D. (ed.), 1964. The First and Second Discourses by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, translated by Roger D Masters and Judith R Masters. New York: St. Martin's Press (ISBN 0-312-69440-7).

Masters, Roger D. (ed.), 1967. The Nation is Burdened: American foreign policy in a changing world. New York: Random House (ISBN 9780394437996)

Masters, Roger D., 1968. The Political Philosophy of Rousseau. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press (ISBN 9780691019895), also available in French (ISBN 2-84788-000-3).

Masters, Roger D. (ed.), 1978. On the Social Contract, with the Geneva Manuscript and Political Economy by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, translated by Judith R Masters. New York: St Martin’s Press (ISBN 0-312-69446-6).

Masters, Roger D., 1989. The Nature of Politics. New Haven: Yale University Press (ISBN 0-300-04981-1).

Masters, Roger D., 1993. Beyond Relativism: Science and Human Values. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England (ISBN 0-87451-634-X).

Masters, Roger D., 1996. Machiavelli, Leonardo and the Science of Power. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press (ISBN 0-268-01433-7). See also NYT book review

Masters, Roger D., 1998. Fortune is a River: Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli's Magnificent Dream to Change the Course of Florentine History. New York: Simon & Schuster (ISBN 0-452-28090-7), also available in Chinese (ISBN 9789572026113), Japanese (ISBN 9784022597588), German (ISBN 9783471794029), Portuguese (ISBN 9788571104969), and Korean (ISBN 9788984070059). See also NYT book review

Edited volumes

Gruter, Margaret and Roger D. Masters, eds., 1984. Ostracism: A Social and Biological Phenomenon. (ISBN 0-317-55376-3).

Masters, Roger D. and Margaret Gruter, eds.,1992. The Sense of Justice: Biological Foundations of Law. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications (ISBN 0-8039-4398-9).

Masters, Roger D. and Michael T. McGuire, eds. 1994. The Neurotransmitter Revolution: Serotonin, Social Behavior, and the Law. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press (ISBN 0-8093-1801-6).

Masters, Roger D., Glendon A. Schubert and Albert Somit, eds., 1994. Primate Politics. Lanham, MD: University Press of America (ISBN 0-8191-9386-0)

Edited series

Masters, Roger D. and Christopher Kelly, eds. (1990) The Collected Writings of Rousseau. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England (12 volumes, various years). Series includes The Confessions and Correspondence, Including the Letters to Malesherbes (ISBN 0-87451-836-9), Dialogues (ISBN 0-87451-495-9), Autobiographical, Scientific, Religious, Moral, and Literary Writings (ISBN 1-58465-599-2), Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (Second Discourse), Polemics, and Political Economy (ISBN 0-87451-603-X), Discourse on the Sciences and Arts (First Discourse) and Polemics (ISBN 0-87451-580-7), Essay on the Origin of Languages and Writings Related to Music (ISBN 0-87451-839-3), Julie, or the New Heloise (ISBN 0-87451-825-3), Letter to Beaumont, Letters Written from the Mountain, and Related Writings (ISBN 1-58465-164-4), Letter to D’Alembert and Writings for the Theater (ISBN 1-58465-353-1), The Plan for Perpetual Peace, On the Government of Poland, and Other Writings on History and Politics (ISBN 1-58465-514-3), The Reveries of the Solitary Walker, Botanical Writings, and Letter to Franquières (ISBN 1-58465-007-9), Social Contract, Discourse on the Virtue Most Necessary for a Hero, Political Fragments, and Geneva Manuscript (ISBN 0-87451-646-3)

Principal articles and book chapters, by theme

  • International Relations
    • Masters, Roger D. (1961), A Multi-Bloc Model of the International System. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Dec.), pp. 780-798.
    • Masters, Roger D. (1964b), World Politics as a Primitive Political System. World Politics, Vol. 16, No. 4 (July), pp. 595-619.
  • Political Theory
    • Masters, Roger D. (1977), The Case of Aristotle's Missing Dialogues: Who Wrote the Sophist, the Statesman, and the Politics? Political Theory, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Feb.), pp. 31-60.
    • Masters, Roger D. (1989), 'Obligation and the new naturalism. Biology and Philosophy, Vol. 4, No. 1: 17-32.
  • Human Ethology and Sociobiology
    • Masters, Roger D. (1973), Functional approaches to analogical comparison between species. Social Science Information, 12(4): 7-28 (1973)
    • Masters Roger D. (1976), The Implications of Sociobiology. Science 192(4238, April 30, 1976): 427-428.
    • Masters, Roger D. (1982), Is Sociobiology Reactionary? The Political Implications of Inclusive-Fitness Theory. The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 57, No. 3 (Sep.), pp. 275-292.
    • Masters, Roger D. (1983), The Biological Nature of the State. World Politics, Vol. 35, No. 2 (Jan.), pp. 161-193.
    • Masters, Roger D. (1984), Ostracism, voice, and exit: the biology of social participation. Social Science Information Vol. 23, No. 6: 877-893.
    • Masters, Roger D. (1990), Evolutionary Biology and Political Theory. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 84, No. 1 (March), pp. 195-210.
    • Masters, Roger D. (1995). Mechanism and Function in Evolutionary Psychology: Emotion, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Personality. Psychological Inquiry, 6 (1), 65-68.
  • Political Communication
    • Masters, Roger D. (1981), Linking ethology and political science: Photographs, political attention, and presidential elections, in Meredith Watts, ed. Biopolitics: Ethological and physiological approaches. New York: Jossey-Bass. (ISBN 978-0875898513)
    • McHugo, Gregory J., Lanzetta, John T., Sullivan, Denis G., Masters, Roger D. and Englis, Basil G. (1985), Emotional Reactions to a Political Leader's Expressive Displays. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. 49(6, December):1513-1529. (ISSN 0022-3514)
    • Roger D. Masters, Denis G. Sullivan, Alice Feola, Gregory J. McHugo (1987), Television Coverage of Candidates' Display Behavior during the 1984 Democratic Primaries in the United States, International Political Science Review. Vol. 8, No. 2, (April), pp. 121-130.
    • Newton, James S., Roger D. Masters, Gregory J. McHugo and Denis G. Sullivan (1987), Making up Our Minds: Effects of Network Coverage on Viewer Impressions of Leaders. Polity, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Winter), pp. 226-246.
    • Sullivan, Denis G., Roger D. Masters (1988), "Happy Warriors": Leaders' Facial Displays, Viewers' Emotions, and Political Support. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 32, No. 2 (May), pp. 345-368.
    • Masters, Roger D., Denis G. Sullivan (1989), Nonverbal Displays and Political Leadership in France and the United States. Political Behavior, Vol. 11, No. 2 (June), pp. 123-156.
    • Masters, Roger D., Siegfried Frey, Gary Bente (1991), Dominance and Attention: Images of Leaders in German, French, & American TV News. Polity, Vol. 23, No. 3 (Spring, 1991), pp. 373-394.
    • Masters, Roger D. (1991), Individual and cultural differences in response to leaders' nonverbal displays. Journal of Social Issues, 47(3): 151-165.
    • Warnecke, A. Michael, Roger D. Masters and Guido Kempter (1992), The roots of nationalism: Nonverbal behavior and xenophobia. Ethology and Sociobiology Volume 13, Issue 4 (July): 267-282.
    • Way, Baldwin M. and Roger D. Masters (1996), Political attitudes: Interactions of cognition and affect. Motivation and Emotion, Volume 20, Number 3 (September, 1996): pp. 205-236.
    • Way, Baldwin M. and Roger D. Masters (1996) Emotion and Cognition in Political Information-Processing. Journal of Communication 46 (3), 48–65
  • Neurotoxins and Behavior
    • Masters, Roger D., with Baldwin Way, Brian T. Hone, David J. Grelotti, David Gonzalez, and David Jones (1997), Neurotoxicity and Violence, Vermont Law Review, 22:358-382.
    • Masters, Roger D., Hone, Brian T., and Doshi, Anil. 1998. "Environmental Pollution, Neurotoxicity, and Criminal Violence," in J. Rose., ed., Environmental Toxicology: Current Developments (London: Taylor and Francis), pp. 13-48. (ISBN 9789056991401)
    • Masters, Roger D. & Coplan, Myron J. (1999). Water treatment with silicofluorides and lead toxicity. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 56 (4), 435-449.
    • Masters, Roger D. & Coplan, Myron J. (1999). A dynamic, multifactorial model of alcohol, drug abuse, and crime: linking neuroscience and behavior to toxicology. Social Science Information, 38(4): 591-624.
    • Masters RD, Coplan MJ, Hone BT, Dykes JE. (2000), Association of silicofluoride treated water with elevated blood lead. Neurotoxicology. 21(6):1091-1100.
    • Coplan, M.J. and R.D. Masters (2001), Guest Editorial: Silicofluorides and fluoridation. Fluoride. Volume 34, No. 3 (Aug): 161-164. (ISSN 0015-4725)
    • Masters, Roger D. (2001), Biology and politics: Linking nature and nurture. Annual Review of Political Science. Vol. 4: 345-369.
    • Coplan, Myron J.; Steven C Patch; Roger D Masters; Marcia S Bachman (2007), Confirmation of and explanations for elevated blood lead and other disorders in children exposed to water disinfection and fluoridation chemicals. Neurotoxicology, 28(5): 1032-42.
  • Other
    • Masters, Roger D. (2002) "Pre-Emptive War, Iraq, and Suicide Bombers," The Forum: Vol. 1 : Iss. 2, Article 3.

See also

Roger Masters’ websites at Dartmouth College are and

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