The Essence and Value of Democracy - PL626

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury
(version 6)
Autumn
View Timetable
6 30 (15)

Pre-requisites

None

Restrictions

None

2019-20

Overview

All things considered, liberal democracy is the best political system we know of. Nevertheless, it has always been in peril, attacked by totalitarian ideologies and undermined by self-destructive forces from within. In this module, we will investigate the essence and value of democracy, and the character and aims of its enemies. To this end, we will study an important theory in modern political philosophy, formulated in Ernst Cassirer's The Myth of the State. Cassirer explores the explosive problem of political myth in our day, and reveals how the myth of the state evolved from ancient times to prepare the way for the rise of the modern totalitarian state. He shows how the irrational forces symbolized by myth and manipulation by the state constantly threaten to destroy our civilization. This major contribution to political theory will help us understand the problems our societies face today, including questions relating to truth and falsehood in politics, and, of course, 'fake truth’. We shall also look at a related text, Hans Kelsen’s The Essence and Value of Democracy.

Details

This module appears in:


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 30

Availability

Also available at Level 5 (PL627)

Method of assessment

Essay (3,000 words) – 70%
Summary of weekly reading (300 words) – 20%
Seminar Performance – 10%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Cassirer, E. (2009), The Myth of the State, New Haven: Yale University Press
Hart, H.L.A. (1976), The Concept of Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Kelsen, H. (2013), The Essence and Value of Democracy, Rowman
Kenny, A. (2012), A New History of Western Philosophy, Oxford University Press
Rawls, J. (1971), A Theory of Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module Level 6 students will be able to:

Articulate and critically discuss the main ideas in the text;
Articulate and critically discuss the main arguments for those ideas;
Show thorough understanding of the main intellectual environment in which the text was written;
Show in-depth appreciation of the questions that were raised in the text and why they were important, and, connect these points to the above;
Show thorough understanding of the main criticisms of the text and analyse them.

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