Intro Phil: Social and Political Issues (PHIL*1010-02)
Term: Fall 2014
PHIL1010-02 will be an elementary introduction to modern political philosophy, from the early modern Hobbes to contemporary Canadian political philosopher Will Kymlicka. Early in the modern era, Hobbes conceived of state power as a necessary restraint on the conflict that would arise in a state of nature: strong centralized state power would counteract these natural tendencies. As the modern era grew, it came to be determined, first with the British Enlightenment and then the French, that rulers should be accountable to the people they rule: the government should be the medium through which the people rule themselves. Locke established many of the principles that we now consider essential to democracy: for example, that private ownership would be a cornerstone of a modern political order and that the heads of state could be removed by the people who gave them their power. Rousseau argued that at the core of any nation-state was ‘the general will,” a sense of solidarity to which every individual would voluntarily subordinate his or her own will as a precondition for membership in the political community. Karl Marx built upon G.W.F. Hegel to introduce economics into political theory, showing that the capitalist economic sphere degraded the quality of life of the propertyless worker. They became less self-sufficient and more dependent upon the capitalist and less and less valuable as mechanization developed. In the late 20th-Century, political theories revolved around the best way to balance the two values of the Enlightenment, liberty and equality. John Rawls’ liberal theory of distributive justice was published in the 1971 A Theory of Justice and Robert Nozick’s libertarian entitlement theory of justice was published in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974). PHIL1010-02 will relate an array of modern political philosophers to specific landmark Canadian legal cases, including material from recent Canadian Hegelian political philosopher, Charles Taylor, and liberal theorist, Will Kymlicka.
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