PHIL 119
Justice, Democracy and Freedom: Plato with Footnotes Spring 2022
Division II Writing Skills
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Class Details

This course addresses a central question in ethical and political philosophy: How can we live well with others given our interdependency? What social and political orders make a good life possible? What confers legitimacy on the powers of government and authority? In attempting to answer these questions we also engage related theoretical questions concerning democracy and freedom. We begin with readings from Plato’s Republic, a seminal text in the history of philosophy that has exerted a powerful influence on nearly every subsequent attempt to answer these questions in the context of the Western philosophical tradition. We also consider other figures in the Western philosophical canon (“footnotes on Plato”) and the challenges they present to Plato’s conclusions about a just social and political order (egs. Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant and Nietzsche, and more contemporary figures). Our principal focus will be on issues that continue to be of paramount importance in the world today, namely, democracy, justice and the meaning of freedom.
The Class: Format: seminar; Class participation will consist of various individual and group exercises designed to give students hands on experiences thinking on their feet, collaborating with others, etc.
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3543
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Seven short responses, 300-500 words each (first two are pass/fail), in which students will be asked to engage a particular part of the assigned text (egs., explaining what a passage means, drawing connections between different parts of the text, identifying an argument, responding to an argument, etc); two 6-page papers based on professors prompts; and class participation.
Prerequisites: None. Open to any student interested in the sources of our current understandings of justice, freedom and the strengths and weaknesses of democratic governance structures.
Enrollment Preferences: In the case of over enrollment preference will be given to majors, first years and sophomores
Unit Notes: meets 100-level PHIL major requirement
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
WS Notes: Professor will provide detailed comments on short and long writing responses and provide occasional peer review opportunities, handouts and discussions of frequent types of errors, different possible approaches to writing and drafting, and the importance of editing and seeking the assistance of writing tutors. Students will be encouraged, but are not required, to make appointments to discuss ideas and drafts.
Attributes: JLST Interdepartmental Electives
LEAD Ethical Issues of Leadership

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