With George Fourlas

In this course, you will become familiar with key figures and arguments in contemporary social-political philosophy. We will focus on the tradition of liberal social contract theory, which first emerged in the 17th century and continues to inform political thought. We begin with an introduction to the major theoretical and cultural origins of contract theory: Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan and John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. Through these texts and others, you will be prepared to discuss a wide range of foundational issues in political philosophy: legitimacy, authority, law, rights, equality, liberty, property, citizenship, and justice. Given that liberalism has been the central tradition in political thought since its emergence and imposition, there is an equally important tradition of dissent that we will address. Common to the various critical theories we will address is the illumination of contradictions within liberalism, such that despite liberal values of democracy, equality, and liberty, there continue to be flagrant cases of tyranny and terror sanctioned by liberal nations. The victims of these tyrannies include women, indigenous peoples, racial/ethnic and religious minorities, the working class/poor, and many Others. As we analyze these critical accounts, we will also consider how we can move past the failures of liberalism to form a more peaceful and just society.

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