The Dennes Room

Philosophy 115

Fall 2020

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
115 Political Philosophy Munoz-Dardé MWF 11-12 Barrows 56

This course is devoted to some of the central questions in contemporary political philosophy: liberty, authority, justice and equality. The course is focused particularly on the work of John Rawls.

The course will be organized around three basic themes:

Problems of Authority: Consent and Membership We will look at the significance of obedience to the law in political theory. Are we obliged to obey the laws of a state because we have offered our (tacit) consent by residing within the borders of this state? What, if any, is the force of hypothetical consent? Is there a relation between valuing one’s membership in the political society to which one belongs, and one’s obligations to obey the laws of that society?

Rawls’s Political Liberalism Rawls offers a conception of justice and of the contractualist outlook in his A Theory of Justice and Justice as Fairness a Restatement. We shall examine the basic elements of Rawls’s approach: the role of the Original Position in justifying the account; the significance of the Basic Structure; the priority of liberty; the Difference Principle; the contrast with utilitarianism; the importance of reflective equilibrium; the idea of Political Liberalism.

Egalitarianism Rawls presents his political liberalism as a version of egalitarian theory. Various political philosophers have questioned whether political liberalism is genuinely a form of egalitarianism. We will look at this egalitarian critique. We will also examine the question of whether equality matters, and if so how.

Previously taught: SU20D, FL19, SP19, FL16, SP16, SU15D, SP15, SU14D, FL13, SU13D, FL12, SU12D, SU11D, SP11, FL09, SP09, SP08, SU07A, FL06, FL05, FL04, FL03.