PHIL 119
Why Obey the Law?: On Justice and Freedom in Western Political Philosophy Spring 2023
Division II Writing Skills
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Class Details

What social and political arrangements are most conducive to fostering human well-being and the common good? Are we legitimately bound by a social contract? What makes governmental and legal authority legitimate? Is democratic rule always best? What are some of the necessary conditions for democracy? We turn first to two of Plato’s most famous dialogues,The Apology and,The Republic. The remainder of the course is devoted to political writings by other figures in the Western philosophical tradition (egs. Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, J.S. Mill, W.E.B Dubois, John Rawls, Charles Mills, Jurgen Habermas). While engaging these texts, we will continually reflect on their relevance for thinking about the problems facing liberal democracies today, particularly in the U.S.
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#: 3316
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Six 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; participation in a panel discussion, and general 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: The professor and the teaching assistant will provide detailed comments on short and longer essays 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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