Political Philosophy Philosophy 33 Fall 2022

The Course

Political philosophy is about the nature of the state. It tries to answer questions such as these. “Should we have a state at all?” “What is a just state or society like?” “What powers does the state have?” “Should individuals obey the state?” The course will cover some of the historically prominent answers that combine theories of human nature, ethics, and social life. Our discussions will center on the theories of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, as well as contemporary philosophers who seek to make sense of the place of the state in the world. The syllabus seeks to chart a path between a survey of different philosopher’s views and specialized study of any one of them. We will give thorough attention to the central issues with each philosopher’s political thought.

The materials make heavy demands on their readers’ analytical and interpretive skills. Our discussions and writing assignments will focus on the arguments in these works. That is where your analytical skills will come into play. Since we are reading works from different periods in history, we will also have to work hard at interpreting material that is written in ways that are unfamiliar and that reflects the concerns of different kinds of societies.

The syllabus has a schedule of topics for discussion, readings, and assignments; it also describes the standards for grades and other policies for the class. Registered students can find all other materials on Sakai.

The Classes

Tue, Aug 30
Thu, Sep 1
Glaucon’s Challenge
Tue, Sep 6
Justice in the City
Thu, Sep 8
Justice in the Soul
Tue, Sep 13
Democracy and Tyranny
Thu, Sep 15
The State of Nature
Tue, Sep 20
The Laws of Nature
Thu, Sep 22
Hobbes’s Social Contract
Tue, Sep 27
The Liberty of Subjects
Thu, Sep 29
The Right to Punish
Tue, Oct 4
Locke on Rights
Thu, Oct 6
Locke on Property
Tue, Oct 11
Hume on Property
Thu, Oct 13
Locke and Hume on Consent
Thu, Oct 20
Tue, Oct 25
Mill on Liberty of Expression
Thu, Oct 27
Mill’s Libertarianism
Tue, Nov 1
Nozick on Rights
Tue, Nov 1
Nozick on Justice
Tue, Nov 8
Reparations for Slavery
Thu, Nov 10
Limits of Economic Reparations
Tue, Nov 15
Rawls on Libertarianism
Thu, Nov 17
Sick Day
Tue, Nov 22
The Original Position
Mon, Nov 29
Rawls and Utilitarianism
Thu, Dec 1
Open Borders
Tue, Dec 6
Picture and Review