What is the course about?
This course will explore some of the key philosophical ideas behind the issues and debates of today. Starting with a critical examination of the case for classical liberalism we will then turn to look at some of the alternatives from the left and right of the political spectrum - and beyond. This will involve a consideration of radical and conservative perspectives on the state, free speech, rights and the nature of freedom and equality as values. We will be looking at some of the key contributions to the debates around the character of ‘the political’, of citizenship and of public versus private as well as the question of how power is wielded in our society, and to what ends.
What will we cover?
Topics to be discussed may include negative and positive freedom, equality, power, the state and the rights of the citizen and the stateless, justice and the claims of community and society over the individual, the Marxist critique of liberalism, libertarianism and neoliberalism, the politics of identity and class.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Demonstrate understanding of the key debates in contemporary political philosophy.
- Use and explain key concepts and theories in political philosophy, such as negative and positive freedom, rights, equality and power.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is particularly suitable for those who have followed the introductory course in political philosophy (HP110) but those new to philosophy will also be welcome and no previous knowledge will be assumed. An enthusiasm for learning as well as an open and critical mind will enhance your enjoyment and benefit from this course. On joining this course you should be able to read and comment upon extracts from a philosophical text. You should be prepared to discuss this reading in class.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Tutor presentations and seminar discussions. Suggestions for weekly reading will be provided but this work will not be compulsory.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No, although please bring whatever you need to make notes.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You might be interested in HP010 Understanding the modern world, starting in May 2020.