PHIL 121. Social and Political Philosophy

Over the last five hundred years, the state has been the privileged object of philosophico-political analysis, serving as both the theater of human sociality and the primary instrument of domination over man and nature. From the contractarian vision of the state as the product of rational consensus to the Weberian idea of the state as the entity with a claim to the legitimate use of force, however, there is no unified conception of what, precisely, the state is or should be. This honors seminar will take up the concept of the "state" from a historical and material perspective by examining the foundational modern and contemporary theories of the state as a form of organized political power. Readings may be drawn from works by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, Michel Foucault, Charles Mills, and Wendy Brown, among others.
This seminar is intended for Seniors and Juniors, with priority given to honors students taking it as an honors preparation.  Others should contact the instructor for permission to enroll.
2 credits.
Spring 2025. Ahmed.
Catalog chapter: Philosophy  
Department website:

Access the class schedule to search for sections.

Print-Friendly Page (opens a new window)