PHIL 327: Topics in Political Philosophy
PHIL 327: Topics in Political Philosophy
The Generic Catalog Description
This course will concentrate on a specific issue in political philosophy. Typical topics include civil disobedience, war and peace, theories of political revolution, theories of utopia, and punishment and criminal justice.
This course will examine the liberal and feminist traditions in contemporary social and political philosophy. We will begin by considering the foundational liberal social contract theory of John Rawls. We will then address the ways that feminists have incorporated and rejected liberal thought within their theories of justice and care. The course will also address radical feminist approaches that question the dominant liberal rights-based framework. We will consider issues such as distributive justice and the family, the gendered basis for care and caregiving, multiculturalism and feminism, and liberal versus radical feminist positions on pornography. Readings for the course will draw from the Anglo-American tradition in philosophy, possibly including works by authors such as John Rawls, Susan Moller Okin, Martha Nussbaum, Eva Kittay, Catharine MacKinnon, and Shulamith Firestone.
PHIL 327: Topics in Political Philosophy: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy
How should we, as social beings, live together? This is the fundamental question of political philosophy. This course will address this question directly. Following the example of Plato, we will think about an Ideal Society. Specifically, we will ask, given the knowledge and resources that we possess, what is the best form of society that we, in the United States today, might construct?
Virtually everyone would agree as to the basic political structure of our ideal society. It should be a democracy. Democracy has proven itself to be a durable and contagious ideal. The history of the past several centuries has witnessed a steady deepening of democracy to include all citizens of a society and a steady spread of democracy--at least as an ideal--throughout the world.
There may be agreement about political structure, at least in broad outline, but there is no agreement about that other fundamental feature of a society--its economic structure. It is this disagreement that will be the focus of this course. Should our economic structure remain capitalist? If so, to what sort of capitalism should we aspire, a conservative free-market economy that gives keeps governmental intervention to a minimum, or a more liberal version that would, among other things, allow the government to regulate the economy more and significantly redistribute income and wealth. Or should we aim for something more drastic. Should we aim for a "green" economy that incorporates both capitalist and socialist structures. Or should we try to move beyond capitalism altogether? Does there exist an economically viable socialist alternative to capitalism, or has the socialist project been wholly discredited? If an economically viable alternative to capitalism does exist, is it worth fighting for?
To clarify the issues, we will read three books and a set of articles, each representing a contending view: conservative, liberal, green and socialist. The conservative position is represented by the most influential economist of the post-World-War-Two period, Milton Friedman. We will read his classic statement, which is still, as you will see, highly relevant. The liberal position is represented by several figures, the philosopher John Rawls, the British philosopher/political scientist, Brian Barry and the economist James Galbraith. The green position will be represented by another classic text, E. F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful. The socialist position will be set out in David Schweickart’s After Capitalism.
These readings will comprise the first two-thirds of the course. During the last third the class will divide into four groups, each of which will draw up a blueprint for its own Ideal Society, based (at least loosely) on one of the above perspectives. The course will culminate in a Great Debate, in which each group attempts to defend its vision against the alternatives.
PHIL 327: Topics in Political Philosophy: Globalization Ethics
In this course we will explore economic and cultural issues of globalization, with particular attention to their normative dimensions of economic and cultural issues such as nationalism, colonialism, immigration, cultural identity, group rights, and related topics such as global ecology.
We will draw on a variety of sources, including videos as well as books and articles. We will begin the course with excerpts from classic works such as Aristotle's Politics, Rousseau's Social Contract, Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace, and perhaps Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Communist Manifesto. We will then look at texts from contemporary authors such as John Rawls. Jurgen Habermas, Thomas Pogge, Iris young, and Seyla Benhabib. The readings will be supplemented with several videos about some of the disturbing by-products of globalization.
This class will meet with Dr. Ingram's graduate seminar (PHIL 480) for lectures and video presentations, though not for the scheduled discussion sessions.
Philosophy 327: Critical Theory: Classical and Contemporary Readings
The course will survey some of the major themes and thinkers associated with the Frankfurt School of critical social theory. Besides examining issues - most notably the dialectic of enlightenment, the authoritarian personality, and the problem of technology - that preoccupied first-generation critical theorists Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, and Max Horkheimer, we will also discuss problems of communicative intersubjectivity, moral development, and self-identity that have dominated the thought of second-generation critical theorist Jürgen Habermas. We will then examine a major contemporary work on globalization and global solidarity by one of Habermas’s former students, Hauke Brunkhorst.