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Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 182: Social and Political Philosophy

PHIL 182: Social and Political Philosophy

The Generic Catalog Description

This course examines the norms or principles that establish and justify societies and determine the rights and responsibilities of a society in relation to its own members, of the members in relation to each other and to society as a whole, and of a society in relation to other societies. The course considers the application of these principles to such issues as justice, human rights, political and social institutions, and world community.


PHIL 182: Social and Political Philosophy

Nathan Berthaiume

The unifying theme of this course will center on the relationship between the development of civilization and the improvement of human beings (morally, economically, and politically).  We will examine whether or not there are both positive and negative consequences of civilization.  In particular, we will examine technology (a central feature of the development of civilization) and its relation to our ability to attain a life of human flourishing.  We will explore the various ways in which technology influences our moral, social, and political life in order to see the exact ways in which the benefits of technology might have important limitations. In this regard, some of the main questions that we will ask throughout the semester are: (1) What is the nature of technical knowledge?  (2) Is there a kind of technical knowledge that deals with politics and questions of justice?  (3) What effect does technology have on politics and political discourse? (4) How ought we to live together as human beings with technology?  In our attempt to formulate some answers to these questions, we will also address themes more common to an introductory course in social and political philosophy.

Typical Readings:
Works by Sophocles, Plato, Rousseau, Marx, Freud, and Heidegger.


PHIL 182: Social and Political Philosophy

Ardis Collins

The course will investigate one of the central questions of philosophy: How should we, as human beings, live together? Given that social and political institutions both shape us and are shaped by us, what values should we adopt so that we may best fulfill our natures as individual and social beings? This general question reveals the normative character of the philosophical approach to social issues. Philosophy does not just describe and analyze social structures and ways of thinking. It asks whether these are what they should be. It poses the questions: "what sort of society should we be aiming for," and "How can this goal be attained."

By asking the social question this way, the course addresses the justice issue. In philosophy, the justice issue belongs to a larger philosophical question, namely, what principles ought to govern relations among persons. Justice questions focus especially on what a person can legitimately demand or expect from these relations.

This course aims to address this issue by examining the way relations among persons belong to their participation in social life, and by asking what persons can demand or expect from their involvement in society. The course addresses ethical issues by examining the tension between personal moral principles and the obligations of social life, and by asking how the ethics of interpersonal relations belongs to and is conditioned by a person's social existence. It examines the way ethical judgments call for judgments about the rights and responsibilities of membership in a community.

Typical Readings:
John Locke, Second Treatise of Government; John Stuart Mill, On Liberty; Selections from Hegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Right and the Introduction to the Philosophy of History; Karl Marx, selections from the early writings and from Capital; J. Habermas, selections from Philosophical Discourses of Modernity, Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition.


PHIL 182: Social and Political Philosophy

Virginia de Oliveira-Alves

This course is an introduction to social and political philosophy, the area of philosophy concerned with how we should live together. As such, it focuses on principles for regulating the living together of members of society. It examines several pertinent questions, chiefly, the questions of political authority—formulated as “how we justify government”—freedom, including individual rights, and social justice.

Typical readings include:

Plato (Apology and Crito), Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Susan Moller Okin, Charles Mills, Jurgen Habermas, Karl Marx


PHIL 182: Social and Political Philosophy

Nicoletta Ruane

In this course we take up the question, How do we best live together?, in the context of the American tradition, beginning with the classical liberalism of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Then we turn to 19th and 20th century analyses of and responses to classical liberalism that consider how our social and political interactions are conditioned by economic realities. As we examine issues of justice that are strained by conflicts between political organization and economic imperatives, we are guided by this question: given that social and political institutions shape us and are shaped by us, what institutions should we adopt that best fulfill our many and varied human needs?


PHIL 182: Social and Political Philosophy

Vincent Samar

This course examines the norms or principles that establish and justify societies and determine the rights and responsibilities of a society in relation to its own members, of the members in relation to each other and to society as a whole, and of a society in relation to other societies. The course considers the application of these principles to such issues as justice, human rights, political and social institutions, and world community.  Because the institution of law provides a central organizing tool for how democratic societies actually operate, the course will consider all the above issues both on their own and in context to specific examples from the American legal experience.

Learning Objectives
1.  To acquaint the students with a through understanding of some of the conceptual and normative issues that are implicated by the rule of law.
2.  To show how law and legal institutions cannot be fully conceptualized aside from the political/moral/social environment in which they operate; and further to consider whether in today’s closely-tied world, that environment makes it valuable for courts to not only pay attention to their own precedents, but also to relevant well-thought out decisions written by other national and international tribunals.
3.  To connect up broad philosophical theories of rights, liberties and justice to particular fact-centered applications in which the institution of law will play a uniquely dominant role.
4.  To help the student appreciate the enormous social, political, and moral difficulties that democracies in particular encounter when they agree to operate by the rule of law and not just by majority rules.


PHIL 182: Social and Political Philosophy

David Schweickart

This course will investigate one of the central questions of philosophy: How should we, as human beings, live together?  That is to say, given that social and political institutions both shape us and are shaped by us, what institutions should we adopt so that we might best fulfill our natures as individual and social beings? 

To answer this question we will survey four classical philosophical texts, then turn our attention to two contemporary works.  We will begin with one of the most important works of ancient political philosophy, Plato's Republic, followed by a central text of modern political philosophy, Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince, which we will read along with selections from his (very different) Discourses  We will then proceed to an analysis of the two great nineteenth century movements that have shaped our lives today: liberalism and socialism.  We will study in detail two classic works, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, and Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' The Communist Manifesto.  We will conclude by examining two works that take opposite sides of the debate that dominated the 20th century: capitalism versus socialism. We will read Milton Friedman's classic Capitalism and Freedom, and my own After Capitalism. These works will shed light on the current global economic crisis, the most serious since the Great Depression, and its implications for the future.


PHIL 182: Social and Political Philosophy

Courtney Stewart

This course will investigate one of the central questions of philosophy and social theory: How should we, as human beings, live together?  In particular, this course will focus on the question "What is justice?"  We will explore questions of why human beings desire to live in a just society and how one may recognize a just society.  We will pay particular attention to understanding and analyzing classic and contemporary theories of justice and discussing how justice is manifest in social relations.  


PHIL 182: Social and Political Philosophy

Timothy Weidel

In this course we will delve into one of the central questions of philosophy (and society in general): how should we organize our society and its governing bodies?  To be more precise, we will focus on questions such as: (1) What is the function of a government? (2) What good(s) should a government and its members value? (3) What responsibilities does a government have to its members? (4) What responsibilities does it have to other governments and their members (if any)?  

In the first half of the course, we will examine various historical perspectives on these questions, and discuss in detail the notions of freedom, liberty, rights, and duties.  The second half of the course will take a more contemporary approach, focusing on issues of human rights, economic freedom, and social justice in the emerging global community.


PHIL 182: Social and Political Philosophy

Thomas Wren

The first half of this course will provide a historical and philosophical context for thinking about the ethical dimension of society, using classical philosophical texts such as Plato's Republic. The second part will  use contemporary readings that address the relationship between culture, society, and morality, such as Charles Taylor's Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition. In "service learning" versions of this course I will also pay special attention to issues of global justice, with special focus on conditions in Africa. The service component of these courses will be linked to the work that campus organizations do for medical relief (GlobeMed), AIDS/HIV orphans (Global Alliance for Africa at Loyola), and famine (Oxfam at Loyola), and similar globalization issues.




Loyola

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Phone: 773.508.2291 · Fax: 773.508.2292 · E-mail: Philosophy secretary

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