His research and teaching interests include the intellectual history of liberalism, civil society and pluralism, economic and sociological theory, and the theory and practice of immigration and citizenship policies in the United States.
He is author of Uncivil Society: The Perils of Pluralism and the Making of Modern Liberalism (Lexington/ Rowman & Littlefield, 2004); co-editor of Tocqueville and the Frontiers of Democracy (Cambridge, 2013); and editor of the Cambridge Companion to Democracy in America (Cambridge, 2022).
He has also published more than forty journal articles and book chapters on a variety of thinkers and themes in the intellectual history of liberalism, ranging from studies of English and Scottish thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and J. S. Mill to major thinkers in the French tradition such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Stendhal to contemporary economists and social philosophers such as F. A. Hayek, Frank H. Knight, and Michael Oakeshott. Before coming to Georgetown in 2007, Boyd taught at the University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Deep Springs College.
Selected recent and forthcoming works include:
"Georges Sorel's Tocqueville," History of Political Thought, forthcoming 2023. (with Gianna Englert).
"The Primacy of Peoplehood: Nations and Nationalism in Rousseau's Social Contract," in Cambridge Companion to the Social Contract, eds. Matthew Maguire and David Lay Williams. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2023).
"Thomas Hobbes and the Making of Popular Sovereignty," in When the People Rule: Popular Sovereignty in Theory and Practice, eds. Ewa Atanassow, Thomas Bartscherer, and David A. Bateman. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023): 73-90.
“Tocqueville’s Conservatism and the Conservative’s Tocqueville,” in Cambridge Companion to Democracy in America, ed. Richard Boyd. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022): 133-56.
“Gambling on the Lives of Corporations? STOLI, the ‘Insurable Interest’ Doctrine, and the Ethics of Credit Default Swaps,” Political Science Reviewer 45 (January, 2021): 1-38. (with David Golemboski).
“The Early Modern Origins of Behavioral Economics,” Social Philosophy & Policy 37 (Summer 2020): 30-54.
“Michael Oakeshott’s On Human Conduct,” in Jacob T. Levy, ed. Oxford Handbook of Classics in Contemporary Political Theory. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020): 1-15.
“Between Grammar and Style: Adam Smith and the Moral Geographies of Civil Society,” Political Geography 12 (December 2017): 1-10.
“Blind Injustice: Theorizing Anonymity and Accountability in Modern Democracies,” Polity 48 (July 2016): 332-58. (with Laura K. Field).
“Subprime Virtues: The Moral Dimensions of American Housing and Mortgage Policy,” Perspectives on Politics 11 (March 2013): 111-31. (with Richard Avramenko).