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Political Philosophy
PHIL 278
Spring 2015 not offered

This course examines whether the principles that guide our political views on crime, punishment, and justice are to be found in nature or a rational source (right and law). We will examine these two main themes, beginning with authors who explain political life by referring to nature, naturalized norms, and power: Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau. We begin with the pessimistic moral psychology lying at the basis of Machiavelli's and Hobbes' political writings on power and sovereignty. We examine Rousseau's account of natural inequalities in a state of nature and his account of how the moral psychology of the prepolitical condition (state of nature) gets developed in the political sphere through civic education. Other themes will include the power of individuals to cultivate themselves autonomously and free from constraints, radical autonomy, and expressive unity with nature. We examine problems with placing natural norms at the basis of political theories. Alternatively, in an attempt to rectify these problems, we will look at philosophers who relate the basic political concepts and principles to issues of right and law. Topics will include theories of property, crime, and punishment in Kant, Hegel, and Marx. We will discuss the conditions under which rebellion, resistance, and civil disobedience are justified; whether Hegel's organicist model of the state is detrimental to the freedom of individuals; the contrast between acquired rights v. intrinsic rights; and, finally, whether the transition away from nature toward right and law indicates a conservative bias detrimental to individualistic self-realization and self-expression.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS PHIL
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (HRAD-MN)(PHIL)(PHIL-Philosophy)(PHIL-Social Jus)

Last Updated on MAY-30-2024
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