Political Philosophy

A.Y. 2019/2020
Lesson for
6
Max ECTS
40
Overall hours
SSD
SPS/01
Language
English
Learning objectives
In terms of content, we will be primarily concerned with questions of freedom, justice and political authority. Questions of political authority are concerned with why and to what extent a political authority has legitimate power over us. Do governments derive their authority from 'the consent of the governed'? If so, what does that consent look like? Can the state do anything it wants to us, or are there limits? If there are limits, where do those limits come from? Moreover, the course aims to highlight how political philosophy is relevant, especially in times of crisis, where it becomes imperative to find and implement some new shared criteria of judgment. Then it calls for critical clarification of and reflection on the most fundamental terms of our political life, and suggests new possibilities for the future. What is distinctive about political philosophy is its prescriptive or evaluative concern, in short, its concern with how political societies should be, how policies and institutions can be justified, how we and our political leaders ought to behave in our public lives. What does a justifiable or legitimate political order involve?

In terms of method, students will also learn various skills in philosophic methodology:

- Students will learn how to read philosophic texts. The readings for this course consist entirely of primary sources, and we will spend most of our class periods with the text close at hand, going over it line-by-line in many cases;
- Students will learn the skills of conceptual analysis and philosophic argumentation. Much time will be spent in this course getting clear about distinctions between closely related concepts (justice, fairness, desert, needs, etc.);
- Students will learn to understand and discuss coherently the foundational issues listed in the course description;
- Students will be expected both to be able to analyze the arguments of other philosophers, and to forge new arguments of your own.


To sum up, the general aims of this course are the following:
· To help students to improve their ability to read carefully, write and speak clearly, and think analytically;
· To allow the students to gain a critical understanding of some of the most important issues and theories in Political Philosophy;
· To enhance students' knowledge of central terms of political theory and sharpen their conceptual skills to identify, compare and evaluate philosophical arguments;
· To develop students critical thinking skills needed to compare, evaluate and analyze philosophical arguments within the field of political theory.
· To gain a more complete and refined understanding of students theoretical commitments in the political realm (or - in the absence of such commitments -, to help generate them).
· To see the connections between philosophical contributions to political thought and the actual political arrangements of our time.

Course structure and Syllabus

Active edition
Yes
Responsible
SPS/01 - POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Magni Beatrice
ATTENDING STUDENTS
Syllabus
Political Philosophy investigates whether, on what grounds, and to what extent political authority can be justified. It is first and foremost, then, a normative discipline - that is, one concerned less with questions about how political life is or was, and more with how it should be. The primary aim of this course is to help students think more deeply about important theoretical concepts and political problems. This year the course will focus on examination of a question basic and central to political philosophy: the civil disobedience. The question of civil disobedience in liberal democracies has been much discussed in recent times: do citizens have an obligation to obey unjust laws? Which strategies of dissent and law breaking are successful? Does disruptive protest damage democratic community or can it be democratizing? Is violent resistance ever justified? What is the justification for an authority of state? What is a just society? What constitutes a good citizen? What is the relationship between order, authority and freedom?
This course will explore these questions through the careful study of classic and contemporary texts in the field and will take the form of a broad inquiry of some of its most fundamental topics. Thus what philosophical problems does each argument address? What political problems does each argument address? How do different authors justify their theories? What do we think of their theories?
In terms of content, we will be primarily concerned with questions of freedom, justice and political authority. Questions of political authority are concerned with why and to what extent a political authority has legitimate power over us. Do governments derive their authority from 'the consent of the governed'? If so, what does that consent look like? Can the state do anything it wants to us, or are there limits? If there are limits, where do those limits come from? Moreover, the course aims to highlight how political philosophy is relevant, especially in times of crisis, where it becomes imperative to find and implement some new shared criteria of judgment. Then it calls for critical clarification of and reflection on the most fundamental terms of our political life, and suggests new possibilities for the future. What is distinctive about political philosophy is its prescriptive or evaluative concern, in short, its concern with how political societies should be, how policies and institutions can be justified, how we and our political leaders ought to behave in our public lives. What does a justifiable or legitimate political order involve?
In terms of method, students will also learn various skills in philosophic methodology:

-Students will learn how to read philosophic texts. The readings for this course consist entirely of primary sources, and we will spend most of our class periods with the text close at hand, going over it line-by-line in many cases;
-Students will learn the skills of conceptual analysis and philosophic argumentation. Much time will be spent in this course getting clear about distinctions between closely related concepts (justice, fairness, desert, needs, etc.);
-Students will learn to understand and discuss coherently the foundational issues listed in the course description;
-Students will be expected both to be able to analyze the arguments of other philosophers, and to forge new arguments of your own.
NON-ATTENDING STUDENTS
Syllabus
Political Philosophy investigates whether, on what grounds, and to what extent political authority can be justified. It is first and foremost, then, a normative discipline - that is, one concerned less with questions about how political life is or was, and more with how it should be. The primary aim of this course is to help students think more deeply about important theoretical concepts and political problems. This year the course will focus on examination of a question basic and central to political philosophy: the civil disobedience. The question of civil disobedience in liberal democracies has been much discussed in recent times: do citizens have an obligation to obey unjust laws? Which strategies of dissent and law breaking are successful? Does disruptive protest damage democratic community or can it be democratizing? Is violent resistance ever justified? What is the justification for an authority of state? What is a just society? What constitutes a good citizen? What is the relationship between order, authority and freedom?
This course will explore these questions through the careful study of classic and contemporary texts in the field and will take the form of a broad inquiry of some of its most fundamental topics. Thus what philosophical problems does each argument address? What political problems does each argument address? How do different authors justify their theories? What do we think of their theories?
In terms of content, we will be primarily concerned with questions of freedom, justice and political authority. Questions of political authority are concerned with why and to what extent a political authority has legitimate power over us. Do governments derive their authority from 'the consent of the governed'? If so, what does that consent look like? Can the state do anything it wants to us, or are there limits? If there are limits, where do those limits come from? Moreover, the course aims to highlight how political philosophy is relevant, especially in times of crisis, where it becomes imperative to find and implement some new shared criteria of judgment. Then it calls for critical clarification of and reflection on the most fundamental terms of our political life, and suggests new possibilities for the future. What is distinctive about political philosophy is its prescriptive or evaluative concern, in short, its concern with how political societies should be, how policies and institutions can be justified, how we and our political leaders ought to behave in our public lives. What does a justifiable or legitimate political order involve?
Lesson period
First trimester
Lesson period
First trimester
Assessment methods
Esame
Assessment result
voto verbalizzato in trentesimi
Educational website(s)
Professor(s)