The Western tradition: moral and political values

A.Y. 2021/2022
12
Max ECTS
80
Overall hours
SSD
M-FIL/06 SPS/02
Language
English
Learning objectives
The course aims at introducing the students to the moral and political values prominent in the Western tradition. A selection of values (such as dignity, respect, liberty, autonomy, equality, fairness, solidarity and patriotism) and issues connected with them will be presented and analyzed in order to teach the students how to recognize when they are at stake, when they conflict with each other and how to critically assess the possible solutions and policies dealing with these values. At the end of the course, the students must be able to evaluate social and political issues in the light of the main moral and political values and to envisage the justification for the choices concerning them.
Expected learning outcomes
The expected learning outcomes include:
- The knowledge and understanding of the meaning and the practical implications of the main moral and political values in the Western tradition
-The ability to apply the knowledge and understanding of these values to the issues raised by the conflict among the values themselves and by typical contemporary social problems
-The ability to analyse and evaluate critically real life situations taken from the recent history of moral and political discussion
-The skill to communicate and argue in favour and against some values in specific situations, identifying themselves with one or another of the different opinions concerning the issue at stake in a discussion with the colleagues and the teacher (debate method)
-The ability to read, understand, summarize and communicate the content of chapters and articles concerning the moral and political values discussed, obtained through the reading and exposition in the classroom, guided by the teacher (flipped classroom method)
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second trimester
The lessons will be held in presence
Prerequisites for admission
The admission to the course requires a general preliminary knowledge of the Western moral and political tradition. No specific knowledge in philosophy or political theory is required.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Unit 1
Attendant students are required to read the assigned materials during the course and to participate actively in the discussion of the texts. Also, the students have to show, in the final colloquium, that they have read and understood all the assigned texts and that they can argue on relevant issues using the concepts, the knowledge and the theories that have been presented and used in the course.
The assessment is based on an oral colloquium, and it includes the evaluation of the active role played by each student (through short presentations of the texts, participation in the discussion, offering arguments and cases, raising objections to the theories) during the course. 40% of the mark depends on the active participation during the course, 60% on the final colloquium.

For non-attendant students, evaluation is based on an oral colloquium.


The criteria for assessment are:
1. Adequate and complete knowledge of the contents and the material of the course
2. Adequate language in the use of moral concepts and theories
3. Clarity of exposition in the presentations and in answering the questions
4. Capacity to re-elaborate the contents in order to face problematic issues in morally and politically relevant situations

The mark is assigned in 30/30

Assessment methods and criteria - Unit 2
Attendant and non-attendant students are required to read all the materials indicated in the bibliography. The final assessment depends on 1) a writing part, that is a paper on one reading to be assigned, and 2) an oral colloquium. Only attendant student may replace the paper with a presentation; student presentations will be given in lessons11, 12, 19 and 20.
The paper (min. 6 and max.10 pages; font size 12, line spacing 1.5, margins 2.5, bibliography included) must be sent by email to the teacher 10 days before the date of the oral colloquium.
In the papers, as well as in the presentations, students are expected to summarize and critically discuss the central arguments proposed in one of the assigned reading, by taking into account the texts in the bibliography and eventually referring to personal experiences and/or to other works already studied.
The oral colloquium will comprise at least 4 open questions meant to ascertain not only that students have read and understood all the assigned texts, but also that they can argue on relevant issues using the concepts, the knowledge and the theories that have been presented in the course.
For attendant as well as non-attendant students the final assessment will be the average of the mark of the paper (50%) and the mark of the oral colloquium (50%). The mark will be assigned in 30/30.
Unit 1
Course syllabus
These lessons (40 hours) are divided into 5 thematic sessions, each consisting of 8 hours.

1. What are moral values? The main traditions and issues
a. General introduction: the idea of value and the plurality of values
b. Critics of values and conflicts among values
c. R. Audi, Moral Value and Human Diversity, Ch. 1: presentation, objections and discussion
d. R. Audi, Moral Value and Human Diversity, Ch. 2: presentation, objections and discussion
2. Dignity & Respect
a. Why is dignity relevant?
b. The idea of respect
c. J. Waldron, Dignity, Rank, & Rights, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2012, chapter 1: presentation, objections and discussion
d. R. Mordacci, A Short History and Theory of Respect, "International Philosophical Quarterly": presentation, objections and discussion
3. Liberty & Autonomy
a. The meanings of freedom and liberty
b. The value of autonomy
c. I. Berlin, Two concepts of liberty, (extract) (1958): presentation, objections and discussionI.
d. I. Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Section II (extract): presentation, objections and discussion
4. Equality & Fairness
a. The idea of equality
b. Equality of what? Seminar with Greta Favara
c. R. Dworkin, What is Equality? Parts 1 & 2 (extracts): presentation, objections and discussion
d. E. Anderson, What is the Point of Equality?: presentation, objections and discussion
5. Solidarity & Patriotism
a. Solidarity vs. Patriotism
b. Solidarity as a European value. Seminar with Alessandro Volpe
c. J. Habermas, Democracy, Solidarity and the European Crisis: presentation, objections and discussion
d. MacIntyre A, "Is Patriotism a Virtue?": presentation, objections and discussion
Teaching methods
Frontal lessons and structured discussions of assigned texts (40 hours).
The teaching is divided into 5 thematic Sessions (8 hours per Session), each comprising 4 units (2 hours per unit); 2 units are devoted to frontal lessons introducing the history and theory of each moral and political value (presented in couples: see the program); 2 units are devoted to structured discussions of assigned relevant texts concerning the values.
During the structured discussion the students have: 1) to shortly present the assigned text (10-15 minutes); 2) to discuss the text, arguing its basis in favour and against the thesis proposed by the author (30 minutes); 3) to offer and discuss examples proposed by the teacher (30 minutes); 4) to take a precisely argued position on the topics chosen for the discussion (15 minutes).
The aim of the active part is to train the students' argumentative capacities on issues where the moral and political values are at stake.
At the end of each discussion unit, the teacher summarizes the results of the discussion and re-organizes the contents concerning each value in a systematic perspective. The whole of the values treated in the course offer a general unitary overview of the Western moral and political tradition.
Teaching Resources
1. What are moral values? The main traditions and issues
Bibliography: R. Audi, Moral Value and Human Diversity, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2007, chapters 1 and 2, pp. 3-56.
2. Dignity & Respect
Bibliography: J. Waldron, Dignity, Rank, & Rights, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2012, chapter 1, pp. 13-46; R. Mordacci, A Short History and Theory of Respect, "International Philosophical Quarterly", 59, 2, issue 234 (June 2019), pp. 121-136.
3. Liberty & Autonomy
Bibliography: I. Berlin, Two concepts of liberty, (1958), in Four Essays on Liberty, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1969; I. Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Section II (extract).
4. Equality & Fairness
Bibliography: R. Dworkin, What is Equality? Part 1: Equality of Welfare, "Philosophy & Public Affairs" 10, 3 (1981), extracts; What is Equality? Part 2: Equality of Resources, "Philosophy & Public Affairs 10, 4 (1981), extracts; E. Anderson, What is the Point of Equality?, "Ethics" 109, 2 (1999), pp. 287-337 (extracts).
5. Solidarity & Patriotism
Bibliography: Habermas, J. 2013. Democracy, Solidarity, and the European Crisis. Lecture delivered on 26 April 2013 at KU Leuven, Belgium; MacIntyre A, "Is Patriotism a Virtue?" (The Lindley Lecture), Lawrence: University of Kansas 1984

Please note:The syllabus will be fine-tuned at the beginning of the course. The final version of the syllabus, completed with more precise bibliographical indications and suggestions for papers and presentations, will be available on the Ariel website of the course. https://mpvwt.ariel.ctu.unimi.it/v5/home/Default.aspx
Unit 2
Course syllabus
Course syllabus - Unit 2
The lessons will be divided into 5 thematic sections as follows:

1.Introduction (4 h)
Lesson 1: Themes, structure and goals of the course
Lesson 2: Contested concepts, political values and the value of history in political philosophy

2. Political liberty (8 h)
Lesson 3: How many concepts of freedom are there?
Lesson 4: Negative liberty and Skinner's third concept of political freedom
Lesson 5: Pettit's republican freedom
Lesson 6: Honneth's social freedom

3. Constitutionalism (8h)
Lesson 7: Before Montesquieu: a short history of constitutionalism
Lesson 8: Constant's critique of Rousseau and his constitutionalism
Lesson 9: Constituent power and constituted power: Sieyès
Lesson 10: The paradox of constitutionalism

Student presentations on section 1, 2 and 3 (4h)
lesson 11: student presentations of assigned readings
lesson 12: student presentations of assigned readings

4.Authority (6h)
Lesson 13: Sovereignty, authority and power: general considerations
Lesson 14: Weber's classical partition of authority
Lesson 15: Arendt's unusual view of authority

5. Feminism (6h)
Lesson 16: The waves of feminism
Lesson 17: Italian feminism
Lesson 18: Feminist political philosophy

Student presentations on section 4 and 5 (4h)
lesson 19: student presentations of assigned readings
lesson 20: student presentations of assigned readings
Teaching methods
Teaching methods - Unit 2
The course will combine frontal lessons and student presentations.
In the frontal lessons, the teacher will present the key topics of each thematic section, introducing them historically and theoretically through the texts indicated in the bibliography. In the presentations, students will offer an in-depth exploration of some topics covered in the course by the teacher. In particular, in their presentation, students will 1) shortly present the main contents of the assigned reading, 2) critically discuss the assigned reading, arguing in favour and against the thesis proposed by the author, 3) to critically evaluate the assigned reading, by taking into account the related texts in the bibliography of the course and eventually referring to other texts. Each presentation will last max. 15 minutes. At the end of each presentation the teacher will summarizes its results and connect them with the general topics of the course.
Attendant students can choose whether to give a presentation or a paper.
Non-attendant students cannot substitute a paper for a presentation.
The list of readings to be assigned for papers and presentations will be available at the beginning of the course.
Teaching Resources
Teaching resources - Unit 2

Bibliography for attendant students

In addition to the teaching materials of the course (slides, passages commented by the teacher...), students have to study the following works:

1) T. Ball, The Value of the History of Political philosophy, in G. Klosko (ed. by), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011 or W.B. Gallie, Essentially Contested Concepts, in "Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society", New Series, vol. 56 (1955-56), pp. 167-198;

2a) Q. Skinner, A Third Concept of Liberty, in "Proceedings of the British Academy", 117 (2002), pp. 237-268; 2b) P. Pettit, Freedom, in D. Estlund, The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012; 2c) A. Honneth, Three, Not Two, Concepts of Liberty: A Proposal to Enlarge Our Moral Self-Understanding, in R. Zuckert and J. Kreines (eds), Hegel on Philosophy in History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, pp. 177-192;

3a) D.V.K. Steven, Benjamin Constant and Constitutionalism, in "Historia Constitucional", n. 16 (2015), pp. 19-46; 3b) L. Rubinelli, Sieyès and the French Revolution, in Ead., Constituent Power: A History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2020, pp. 33-74;

4a) M. Weber, Politics as Vocation, choice edition, selected passages and 4b) H. Arendt, What is Authority?, in Ead., Between Past and Future: Six Exercises in Political Thought, New York, The Viking Press, 1961;

5) A. Cavarero, In Spite of Plato: A Feminist Rewriting of Ancient Philosophy, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1995 or C. Arruzza, T. Bhattacharya and N. Fraser, Feminism for the 99%: A Manifesto, London Verso 2019 or L. Zerilli, Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom, Chicago, Chicago UP, 2005, introduction and one chapter of your choice.


Bibliography for non-attendant students

Non-attendant students have to study the following works:

1) T. Ball, The Value of the History of Political philosophy, in G. Klosko (ed. by), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011 or 1) W.B. Gallie, Essentially Contested Concepts, in "Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society", New Series, vol. 56 (1955-56), pp. 167-198;

2a) Q. Skinner, A Third Concept of Liberty, in "Proceedings of the British Academy", 117 (2002), pp. 237-268; 2b) P. Pettit, Freedom, in D. Estlund, The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012; 2c) A. Honneth, Three, Not Two, Concepts of Liberty: A Proposal to Enlarge Our Moral Self-Understanding, in R. Zuckert and J. Kreines (ed. by), Hegel on Philosophy in History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, pp. 177-192;
and, if necessary:
F. Lovett, Republicanism, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2018/entries/republicanism/
-M. Bevir, The Contextual Approach, in G. Klosko (ed. by), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011
-C. Corradetti, The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory, C Corradetti, in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: ttps://iep.utm.edu/frankfur/#:~:text

3a) D.V.K. Steven, Benjamin Constant and Constitutionalism, in "Historia Constitucional", n. 16 (2015), pp. 19-46; 3b) L. Rubinelli, Sieyès and the French Revolution, in Ead., Constituent Power: A History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2020, pp. 33-74;
and, if necessary:
C.H. McIlwain, Constitutionalism: Ancient and Modern, preface, chapters. 1, 2, 3, 6: https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/mcilwain-constitutionalism-ancient-an…

4a) M. Weber, Politics as Vocation, choice edition, selected passages
4b) H. Arendt, What is Authority?, in Ead., Between Past and Future: Six Exercises in Political Thought, New York, The Viking Press, 1961
and, if necessary:
-S.H. Kim, Max Weber, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2021/entries/weber/
-M.P. d''Entrèves Hannah Arendt, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2019/entries/arendt

5) A. Cavarero, In Spite of Plato: A Feminist Rewriting of Ancient Philosophy, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1995 or C. Arruzza, T. Bhattacharya and N. Fraser, Feminism for the 99%: A Manifesto, London Verso 2019 or L. Zerilli, Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom, Chicago, Chicago UP, 2005, introduction and one chapter of your choice;
and if necessary:
-N. Hirschmann, Feminism, in G. Klosko (ed. by), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011
-N. McAfee and K.B. Howard, Feminist Political Philosophy, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2018/entries/feminism-political/

Please, note that "if necessary" means that those are suggested, not compulsory, works.
Unit 1
M-FIL/06 - HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Mordacci Roberto
Unit 2
SPS/02 - HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor(s)
Reception:
Wednesday, 16.30-19.30. Please, write a mail to arrange an appointment. Due to the summer holidays, there will be no office hour from 28 July to 18 August
Teams