Michael J. Zenz

I am currently a Policy and Planning Analyst in the College of Letters and Science (AIM office) at the University of Wisconsin -- Madison.  Previously I was a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law program at the University of Arizona.

I obtained a PhD from the University of Maryland Department of Philosophy and the Committee on Philosophy, Politics, and Public Policy (CP4) in 2015.  I am especially interested in issues of good-governance, collective decision making, and (less abstractly) politics.  However, I take particular interest in Wisconsin politics and good coffee.

This website is primarily devoted to my philosophical writing and teaching.  For my less formal writing, see my blog below.  See my Linkedin profile for details about things I've done for money.

Also of possible interest:

Philosophical Writing

My writing has primarily focused in the following areas:

  1. How public officials, and especially political representatives, should balance their sometimes competing obligations to be responsive to their constituents but also do what they think is in the best interest of the public.
  2. The proper way to model public opinion, and how public opinion should be used by officials in large representative democracies. 
  3. How to design political systems in order to incentivize political officials to act according to their political duties. 

Items (1) and (2) were the subject of my dissertation.  Item (3) is the subject of my recent work, including the below working paper.

Working Papers

"Why Partisan Bias is Fair": My working paper about proportionality standards in systems of single-member districts.


I have taught general introductory courses in philosophy, ethics, and political philosophy.  In my political philosophy courses I typically integrate research from political science and psychology with philosophical material. Follow the link for each course to see a copy of the syllabus:

Other Writing