Photo of Dr Ross Carroll

Dr Ross Carroll


Amory B215

 B.A. (University College Dublin), M.S.C (London School of Economics), PhD (Northwestern University)

Extension: 3383

My teaching and research are primarily in the history of early modern political thought with a particular focus on the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, Edmund Burke, David Hume, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, and Alexis de Tocqueville. Thematically my work mainly deals with issues surrounding the passions, fanaticism, religious toleration, and censorship.  My current book project is titled The Power of Contempt: Ridicule in the British Enlightenment.

Current office hours: Fridays 10-12. 

My office is Amory B215



Research interests

My research interests lie mainly in the history of early modern political thought. I have published (or have work forthcoming) on Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, and Alexis de Tocqueville. At the moment my work centres on a range of interconnected concepts including toleration, ridicule, and censorship.

My current and future publication projects include the following: 

  • A book manuscript on ridicule in eighteenth century British political thought. Its provisional title is The Power of Contempt: Ridicule in the British Enlightenment.
  • “Locke’s Pupils": this article examines Locke’s educational project against the background of his role as tutor to the Shaftesburys and adviser on educational matters to the Clarkes and other gentry families.
  • "How Contempt Became a Passion:" this article reconstructs seventeenth century philosophical debates surrounding contempt, a passion deemed fatal to political authority and to civil peace. The article is under consideration for a special issue of History of European Ideas devoted to the history of moral concepts.
  • A monograph on Gustave de Beaumont (best known as Tocqueville's travelling companion) as a critic of European settler colonialism. 



My early education was in Ireland. I completed a BA in politics and philosophy at University College Dublin before leaving for England to complete a Msc in International Relations at the London School of Economics.  Following a period working in Brussels I travelled to the United States on a Fulbright scholarship and received a doctorate in political science from Northwestern University in 2013 for a dissertation on the politics of enthusiasm in Shaftesbury, Hume, and Burke.  From 2009 to 2012 I served as Assistant Editor of Political Theory: an International Journal of Political Philosophy. Before arriving at Exeter in the autumn of 2015 I spent two years as Visiting Assistant Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.