Political Philosophy (PHIL 370)

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Instructor: Emily Crookston. This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. in Stone Center 209.

This is an intermediate course in political philosophy.  For better or worse, it covers material that perhaps ought to be divided into two courses.   The first part of the course covers the birth of the contemporary liberal tradition in the West.  We will begin by reading selections from Rawls’s seminal work, A Theory of Justice.   Then, once we understand the fundamentals of his theory, we will look at the most influential critiques of the view from the libertarian perspective (Robert Nozick), the communitarian perspective (Michael Sandel), and the feminist perspective (Susan Moller Okin).  Second, we will look at a specific puzzle within contemporary liberalism: the problem of political obligation.  This debate concerns the question of whether citizens have a moral obligation to obey their states and, correlatively, whether states have a moral right to be obeyed.  A. John Simmons offers an introduction to the problem and a defense of the skeptical view, known as philosophical anarchism.  And George Klosko serves as Simmons’ willing adversary defending his particular view of political obligation based upon a principle of fairness.Emily Crookston’s webpage