Spring 2013

Introduction to Political Philosophy

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-226


Daniel A. Koltonski (Section 01)


This course provides an introduction to Western political philosophy via an examination of three core values that have governed political debate since the Reformation: freedom, equality and community. We will consider them individually: What is it to be a free individual?  Why is equality important?  We will consider political debates that rely on them:  Is capitalism justified because it allows people to exercise their freedom in the marketplace?  Or is it unjustified because it deprives some of their freedom?  Does the demand for equality require some sort of economic egalitarianism?  Does respect for freedom require that individuals have a robust right to free expression?  And, finally, we will consider whether realizing one of them either requires or precludes realizing another:  Does allowing persons economic freedom prevent us from realizing the right sort of egalitarian society?  Or can we only be truly free when we live among equals?  Can we realize the demands of equality without living in a genuine community?  Can we live in a genuine community that is not a community of equals? Readings will be drawn from both contemporary and historical (post-Reformation) sources.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Koltonski.


2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2021, Fall 2022