OverviewIs it right that the talented profit from their (undeserved) talents? Should the government provide compensation for people who find it hard to meet that special someone? Is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a benevolent charity, or an unelected, unaccountable group wielding enormous political power?
This course is divided into two parts. The first part examines classic topics in political philosophy, such as the sources and scope of political authority, and the ideals of equality and freedom. The second part of the course will explore issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as our obligations to those in the developing world, the circumstances under which one might legitimately employ civil disobedience, and the politics of immigration. We will consider whether we can make sense of political obligation between states as well as within states. We will look at these issues in the context of particular case studies, such as the recent debate over the showing of an anti-Islam film in the House of Lords, and the West's failure to intervene in Rwanda.
This module appears in:
3 hours per week, 2 hour lecture, 1 hour seminar for 10 teaching weeks
Also available under code PL619 (level 6)
Method of assessment
The set text for this course will be Will Kymlickas Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (New York: OUP, 2002). We will follow the structure of this book quite closely during the first part of the course. We will also make good use of Goodin, R., and Pettit, P. (eds.), A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, (Blackwell, 1998). Jonathan Wolff also has a very good introductory text (An Introduction to Political Philosophy, (Oxford: OUP, 1996)), that you might find helpful. During the second part of the course, we will mostly use material that is freely available online and / or through the library.
The aims of this module are:
(1) to introduce you to classic topics in political philosophy, such as the sources and scope of political authority, and the ideals of equality and freedom.
(2) to explore issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as our obligations to those in the developing world, the circumstances under which one might legitimately employ civil disobedience, and the politics of immigration.
(3) to consider the relationship between domestic and international politics, and domestic and international law
(4) to enable you to read analytical philosophy in a way that is considered, reflective, and imaginative;
(5) to enable you to write analytical philosophy in a way that is careful, logical, structured and coherent.
By the end of this module you should:
(5) have a greater appreciation of a number of philosophical topics, such as those mentioned in (1), (2) and (3);
(6) be able to read philosophy better and in a way that will contribute greatly to the rest of your studies whilst at Kent; and
(7) be able to write philosophy better and in a way that will contribute greatly to the rest of your studies whilst at Kent.
This module will contribute to the aims of the Philosophy Programme by enabling students to find out about, discuss and critique the most important theories in political philosophy, and understand how these theories can inform our understanding of specific issues in political philosophy. The module will help students to develop their analytical and critical skills. It will also give students the opportunity to develop their presentation and general communication skills.