Political Philosophy

A.Y. 2019/2020
Lesson for
6
Max ECTS
40
Overall hours
SSD
SPS/01
Language
Italian
Learning objectives
The main objective of the course is to promote students' knowledge and understanding of key concepts in political philosophy. The course also aims at illustrating how the tools provided by political philosophy can contribute to the analysis of political dynamics and how similar tools can be employed to tackle controversial public questions.
Moreover, the course intends to strengthen students' capacity to apply acquired knowledge and competences to problems and topics central in current public debates. The course indeed offers insights about the relationship between theoretical approaches and models, on the one hand, and practical questions, on the other.
T0he course also proposes to promote students' autonomy in formulating judgments. In fact, the course provides a rich set of criteria that can be employed to assess institutions, public decisions, political behaviours or actions. It also offers methodological insights apt to orient the evaluation of political practices and arrangements.

Course structure and Syllabus

Active edition
Yes
Responsible
SPS/01 - POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Pasquali Francesca
ATTENDING STUDENTS
Syllabus
After providing insights on the specificity of political philosophy and its aims, the course spells out the distinguishing features of modern contractualism, through an in-depth analysis of texts by Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Kant.
As the course will clarify, contractualism provides a properly normative perspective on politics, from which to develop rigorous criteria to discriminate between acceptable and unacceptable institutional arrangements, between just and unjust political practices. Indeed, contractualism interprets public authority and political institutions, not as given and predefined, but as the outcome of individual choices and, more precisely, of agreements between individuals, thus vindicating the meaningfulness of ascertaining whether current political practices and institutions are justified or should be rejected. Against this background, contractualism offers tools to elaborate and defend criteria for defining how institutions should be organized or which constraints should be placed on political power and for investigating issues concerning political obligation and legitimacy. Similar criteria are vindicated with reference to individual consent and rest on understanding individuals as agents capable of identifying and agreeing on the most appropriate political solutions. Therefore, knowing the basic grammar of contractualism is functional to better understand the implications connected to considering individual consensus, or agreement among individuals, as crucial for the legitimacy of political decisions. Familiarity with contractualism and its basic tenets is functional also to gain further awareness about the conditions that make consensus and agreement appropriate grounds for assessing or justifying public choices.
The course pays special attention to the comparison and the differences between the approaches developed by Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Kant. In this way, the course highlights various argumentative strategies that can be used to tackle issues related to political obligation and legitimacy and it offers insights into the different criteria that can be employed to evaluate current political regimes and their institutions. Moreover, relying on the comparison between Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Kant, the course also emphasizes that the solutions proposed to deal with the problems of political obligation and legitimacy depend on more basic assumptions concerning human nature and individual rationality and they are based on specific conceptions of freedom, equality and their implications. By highlighting similar aspects, the course provides a review of the different interpretations of key notions in political philosophy, such as those of freedom and equality, and of the different reasons - moral and prudential, for instance - that can be employed to justify political practices or institutions.
NON-ATTENDING STUDENTS
Syllabus
The program focuses on the distinguishing features of modern contractualism, which are spelled out through texts by Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Kant.
Contractualism provides a properly normative perspective on politics, from which to develop rigorous criteria to discriminate between acceptable and unacceptable institutional arrangements, between just and unjust political practices. Indeed, contractualism interprets public authority and political institutions, not as given and predefined, but as the outcome of individual choices and, more precisely, of agreements between individuals, thus vindicating the meaningfulness of ascertaining whether current political practices and institutions are justified or should be rejected. Against this background, contractualism offers tools to elaborate and defend criteria for defining how institutions should be organized or which constraints should be placed on political power and for investigating issues concerning political obligation and legitimacy. Similar criteria are vindicated with reference to individual consent and rest on understanding individuals as agents capable of identifying and agreeing on the most appropriate political solutions. Therefore, knowing the basic grammar of contractualism is functional to better understand the implications connected to considering individual consensus, or agreement among individuals, as crucial for the legitimacy of political decisions. Familiarity with contractualism and its basic tenets is functional also to gain further awareness about the conditions that make consensus and agreement appropriate grounds for assessing or justifying public choices.
The program pays special attention to the comparison and the differences between the approaches developed by Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Kant. In particular, the comparison highlights various argumentative strategies that can be used to tackle issues related to political obligation and legitimacy and it offers insights into the different criteria that can be employed to evaluate current political regimes and their institutions. Moreover, the comparison clarifies that the solutions proposed to deal with the problems of political obligation and legitimacy depend on more basic assumptions concerning human nature and individual rationality and they are based on specific conceptions of freedom, equality and their implications. Taking into account similar aspects, it is possible to acquire familiarity with different interpretations of key notions in political philosophy, such as those of freedom and equality, and with the different reasons - moral and prudential, for instance - that can be employed to justify political practices or institutions.
Lesson period
Second trimester
Lesson period
Second trimester
Assessment methods
Esame
Assessment result
voto verbalizzato in trentesimi
Professor(s)
Reception:
Tuesday and Wednesday, from 17:00 to 18:30. For the week 23-29 September, office hours are scheduled on Thursday September 26th, from 14:30 to 17:30