PHIL 370.001 – Political Philosophy

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Instructor: Eric Sampson. This course meets TR 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. in WI 128.

Political philosophy explores the nature and justification of government. Should there even be a government? If so, why? What is it for? Who should rule and why them rather than others? What should the government have control over and what should it stay out of? What justifies the government in telling me how to live and what reason do I have to comply with its demands? Which economic and political institutions lead to human flourishing and which ones don’t? The authors we read in this course will be among the most influential in all of western philosophy: Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, John Rawls, Robert Nozick, and Gerry Cohen. After getting a grip on the history of political philosophy, we’ll close by considering four contemporary political issues of recent interest: drug legalization, gun control, immigration, and an issue of the class’s choosing.

Prerequisite: 1 PHIL course.