Revolutionary Ideas: Intro to Legal and Political Philosophy

VU Course ID: PH227
Curriculum: 6 weeks
Fee: FREE
Textbooks: None
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Alexander Guerrero
Provider: University of Pennsylvania
Recordable: Certificate and/or proof of completion is available from the provider. You can document this class in your Virtual University e-transcript.

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starts Class starts Sept 21, 2014ends Nov 2, 2014)

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Course Description

What is the purpose of government? Why should we have a State? What kind of State should we have? Even within a political community, there may be sharp disagreements about the role and purpose of government. Some want an active, involved government, seeing legal and political institutions as the means to solve our most pressing problems, and to help bring about peace, equality, justice, happiness, and to protect individual liberty. Others want a more minimal government, motivated, perhaps, by some of the disastrous political experiments of the 20th Century, and the thought that political power is often just a step away from tyranny. In many cases, these disagreements arise out of deep philosophical disagreements.

In this course, we will explore foundational ideas, taking the political institutions and political systems around us not as fixed and unquestionable, but as things to evaluate and, if necessary, to change. We will consider the ideas and arguments of some of the world's most celebrated philosophers, including historical thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Mary Wollstonecraft, JosÚ MartÝ, and John Stuart Mill; and more contemporary theorists such as Kwame Anthony Appiah, Linda Bosniak, Joseph Carens, G.A. Cohen, Angela Davis, Ronald Dworkin, David Estlund, Frantz Fanon, Martha Nussbaum, Julius Nyerere, Ayn Rand, John Rawls, Chin Liew Ten, and Jeremy Waldron. The aim of the course is not to convince you of the correctness of any particular political view or position, but to provide you with a deeper and more philosophically informed basis for your own views, and, perhaps, to help you better understand the views of those with whom you disagree.

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Module 1 – Why Should We Have a State? Happiness and Justice
Module 2 – Why Should We Have a State? Equality and Freedom
Module 3 – Should Our State Have borders?
Module 4 – Should We Have an Electoral Representative Democracy?
Module 5 – Should Our State Have a Constitution?
Module 6 – Should Our State Have Prisons?
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