An introduction to political theories such as conservatism, liberalism, and socialism and their treatment of select social issues.
Most broadly, this course takes up fundamental questions of justice: what is justice and how might we achieve it? That we are by nature interdependent and social beings raises difficult challenges regarding freedom, rights, social status, and government. What should we do, for example, when the rights of two different groups conflict? What are the legitimate limits of free speech? Is democracy really the best form of government? Are humans by nature selfish or cooperative, and how does this affect our political structures? How should resources be distributed? In this course, we will explore these kinds of questions through both specific issues—on topics such as religious tolerance, hate speech, environmental regulation, and welfare—and historical philosophical texts. TEXT: "Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy", Richard Schmitt.
Student learning goals
By the end of this course, I hope that students will a) have a stronger understanding of various issues of social and political philosophy, b) be able to make connections between the content of the course and their own experiences c) be able to coherently express their ideas about the course content in verbal and written form, and d) be able to accurately interpret and charitably engage with others’ ideas.
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading