Philosophy 290-5

Fall 2009

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-5 Graduate Seminar: Contractualism and its Critics Munoz-Dardé Tu 4-6 234 Moses Hall

This seminar will be organized around contractualist approaches in contemporary political philosophy. The seminar will pursue three key themes. First, authority: Is the principal concern of political theory the authority of the state and the source of our obligations to obey state institutions and its agents? If not, what should our principal concerns in political philosophy be? Second, the weight of numbers: Aren’t aggregative concerns intuitively compelling in certain social policy contexts? Does that show that we must move beyond a pure individualistic perspective to one in which consequential outcomes are part of the measure of justice? Third, equality: Is equality or fairness a political value in itself? In what sense can a position claim to be egalitarian or guided by equality if it denies that equality has a special value?

In pursuing these questions we will consider writings by T. M. Scanlon, John Rawls, Joseph Raz and G. A. Cohen, as well as some historical texts. I will also distribute parts of the manuscript of a book I am working on.