Philosophy 371: Social and Political Philosophy


What would an ideal society be like? Should there be limits on human freedom? Do human beings have rights that everyone should respect? Is it ever morally acceptable to disobey or rebel against the state?
   The course will refer to texts from classical and mediaeval philosophers, but will focus on modern thinkers (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Bentham, Marx, Mill, Green), including authors from the late 20th century (representing liberal, libertarian, Marxist, and conservative thought, and from non-western perspectives).

Tentative Course Outline:

'Classical' sources

Contemporary sources [tentative list]

Method of evaluation:

The class will have a 'lecture and discussion' format. The professor will introduce a topic with a summary of the relevant arguments or a commentary on a text. This will be followed by questions and discussion of the material by the class as a whole (e.g., points of clarification or criticism and of comparison; comments on the relations between or among different issues).
Students are expected to have prepared the readings before class, to attend all of the classes and to participate in discussion.

In conformity with University regulations, students who have more than 3 unjustified absences in a term may be reported to their Dean.

It is essential in learning how to do philosophy that students be prepared to ask and answer questions in class.

2 short assignments (approx 600 words), in late September and mid October - 10%
Essay (due 1 November) - 50 %
Final examination - 40 %
Good participation and preparation of class notes can merit up to an additional 10 points.



Recommended Books: