This is the Fall 2016 version of this course. For the Fall 2018 version of this course, click here.
You may download the full PDF here.
This course is a philosophical introduction to pressing social and political issues of today. Public discourse is in a sorry state: partisanship is rampant; the left is becoming alarmingly authoritarian; the right is becoming increasingly transgressive. Fortunately, philosophy provides us with the tools necessary to navigate, examine, and evaluate positions in a clear and systematic manner. In this course, we will consider many of the most important problems of modern times. It will directly deal with current events and seek to understand their causes and effects. Topics of discussion will include but are not limited to: the state of nature; free speech; the legislation of force; racism; affirmative action; privilege; rights; capital punishment; the redistribution of wealth; and, the permissibility of violent rebellion.
- Wolff, Jonathan. An Introduction to Political Philosophy, 3d. ed. (Oxford, 2016)
Requirement Description Weight Date
Reflections Weekly reflections on the week’s topic. 10% Recurring
Response Paper #1 A response to material from the first unit. 25% 17 Oct 0100
Response Paper #2 A response to material from the second unit. 30% 14 Nov 0100
Final Examination A cumulative final examination. 35% 06 Dec
|01||No lectures or tutorials.||Mon||[no class]|
Liberalism: Not What You Think It Is
|02||Philosophy & Real Life||Mon||C: Syllabus|
|03||The State of Nature||Mon||C: Hobbes (IPP)|
|Weds||C: Locke (IPP)|
|04||The Social Contract||Mon||IPP: The social contract|
|Weds||IPP: The principle of fairness|
|05||Liberty and Duty||Mon||IPP: Justifying the Liberty…|
|Weds||IPP: Problems with liberalism|
The Past is Now!
|06||The Sins of the Past||Mon||[Rescheduled to 02 Dec]|
|Weds||IPP: Justice everywhere?|
|Weds||C: Truth & Reconciliation Comm.|
|08||Understanding Privilege||Mon||C: McIntosh|
|09||Inequality||Mon||IPP: Justice for everyone?|
Democracy: The Worst Form of Government*
|10||Democracy Really Is Awful||Mon||IPP: Plato against democracy|
|Weds||IPP: Rousseau and the general…|
|11||Your Guide to Mob Rule||Mon||IPP: Representative democracy|
|12||Is It the Best We Can Do?||Mon||IPP: Rawls’s theory of justice|
|Weds||IPP: Rawls and his critics|
|13||Civil Disobedience||Mon||C: King|
*except all the others
Legend. C: CourseLink; IPP: Introduction to Political Philosophy.