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

Class Details

This course addresses a central question in both ethics and political philosophy: How can we live well? The question has two parts: What is the best life for individuals? And what social and political orders make such a life possible? In attempting to answer these questions we also engage related theoretical questions concerning what is real, the sources of our beliefs, and how to assess them critically. We begin with readings from Plato’s Republic , a seminal work 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. After reading from early Platonic dialogues and the Republic , we also consider some of the best of these attempts in the Western philosophical canon (“footnotes on Plato”) and the challenges they present to Plato’s conclusions (egs. Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Mills, Marx, Arendt, Dubois, and Foucault). Our principal focus will be on issues that continue to be of paramount importance in the world today, namely, democracy, justice and the meanings 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, group presentations, etc.
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3543
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Seven short responses, 200-500 words each (first two are pass/fail), that will ask you to unpack a particular part of the assigned text, for example, by explaining what a passage means, drawing connections between different parts of the text, identifying an argument, responding to an argument, etc; two 6-7-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 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; peer review opportunities, and handouts and discussions frequent types of errors, writing in philosophy, personal writing approaches and process, drafting, and the importance of using writing tutors or others to suggest revisions. 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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