PHIL 021. Social and Political Philosophy

This course delves into the foundational political texts that inspired the thinking of the U.S. founders. In doing so, it encourages a critical and analytical examination of major writings in the canon of Western political theory, divided into three sections or modules: ancient and medieval thought, early modern thought, and Enlightenment thought. To varying degrees, the thinkers in our syllabus explore the following questions: what is the purpose law? How should a state be organized? What is the best way to govern a political body? Who counts as a member of the political body? Importantly, students will notice that our list of readings is populated by figures who have historically defined the "Western canon"; in other words, there is a clear lack of non-European and non-male thinkers in the syllabus. That these are the writers and philosophers that have dominated the study of political theory is neither a reflection of the vast intellectual landscape in the history of Western thought, nor is it an accident of omission. I thus expect and anticipate that students will be cognizant of these omissions as we work through these texts by keeping in mind those whose voices are conspicuously absent. The hope is that a close engagement with these texts can allow us to better understand not only the development of Western political thinking, but also the deficiencies and gaps in the system that we have inherited.
Prerequisite: First- and second-year students must complete one introductory level PHIL course before enrolling in this course.
1 credit.
Eligible for GLBL-core
Spring 2023. Ahmed.
Catalog chapter: Philosophy  
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