This is the Fall 2018 version of this course. For the Fall 2016 version of this course, click here.
You may download the complete PDF here.
This course is a philosophical introduction to current social and political issues. 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; the redistribution of wealth; and, the permissibility of violent rebellion.
- Warburton, Nigel. Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction. (Oxford, 2009)
- Wolff, Jonathan. An Introduction to Political Philosophy, 3d. ed. (Oxford, 2016)
- Various articles.
Requirement Description Weight Date
Seminar Engagement Weekly reflections on the week’s topic and participation. 15% Recurring
Response Paper #1 A response to material from the first unit. 25% 14 Oct 2300
Response Paper #2 A response to material from the second unit. 30% 11 Nov 2300
Final Examination A cumulative final examination. 30% TBA
|No lectures or tutorials.||Mon||[no class]|
Liberalism: Not What You Think It Is
|Standpoints||Mon||Syllabus; Intro (IPP 1-5)|
|The State of Nature||Mon||Hobbes (IPP: 9-17)|
|Weds||Locke (IPP: 17-24)|
|The Social Contract||Mon||The Social Contract (IPP: 39-49)|
|Weds||The Principle of Fairness (IPP:55-60)|
|Mon||Mill on liberty (IPP: 104-114)|
|Free Speech I||Weds||FS: Chapter 2|
The Past is Now!
|Canada’s Shameful Legacy||Mon||[Rescheduled to Nov 30]|
|Weds||E: Truth & Rec; Probs (IPP: 125-32)|
|Racism & Oppression||Mon||E: Du Bois; Justice (IPP:188-95)|
|Weds||E: West (Ch 1)|
|Male Privilege: What It Is & Isn’t||Mon||E: McIntosh; Misogyny (IPP: 200-3)|
|Equality & Equity||Mon||E: Cool; IPP: Rights for Women|
|Free Speech II||Weds||FS: Chapter 3|
Democracy: The Worst Form of Government*
|The Lie of Vox Populi||Mon||Plato… (IPP: 66-77)|
|Weds||Rousseau… (IPP: 77-93)|
|Democracy vs democracy||Weds||E: Dewey|
|Mon||Rawls (IPP: 153-170)|
|Civil Disobedience||Weds||E: King|
|Free Speech III||Weds||FS: Chapter 5 & Conclusion|
*except all the others
Legend. E: Electronic Reserve; FS: Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction; IPP: Introduction to Political Philosophy.