This part asks “how should we live together?” and how we sould organize our society and government. It explores the ways in which social and political philosophies have influenced forms of political institutions, our ways of life, and current sociopolitcal debates. It will address the principles that establish and justify societies and governments, including the fundamental yet controversial principles of authority, justice, rights, equality, liberty, and democracy. It will look at how philosophers have conceived of the rights and responsibilities of a society to its members, of the members to society and to each other, and of a society to other societies.
This part takes a hybrid approach of chronology and topic. Each chapter to no more than 4,000 words.
Chapter 1: What is Social and Political Philosophy?
Introduces the basic themes and questions related to how we should construct our society and our governmental systems. What is human nature and how does that effect how we live together? What do we mean by the concepts of justice, rights, equality, liberty, and democracy? What are the basic forms of government? What are the approaches to justice?
Chapter 2: The Ideal Society
Deals with idealistic and utopian visions of the ideal society. Will cover the general idea of a perfect society, Plato’s ideal state in The Republic, and John Rawls’s thought experiment about a fair society. Who should rule society and what the basis of their authority is.
Chapter 3: Autocracy, Timocracy, and Aristocracy
Discusses ancient and medieval conceptions of the legitimacy of autocratic rule. Includes Aristotle’s conception of the city-state, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas on the divine right of kings, and perhaps also Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince discussing the nature of political power and how to wield and maintain it.
Chapter 4: The State of Nature and the Modern State
This chapter starts with Thomas Hobbes’s defense of autocratic political power in Leviathan and his arguments for political authority and the transition from the state of nature to the commonwealth. It will provide a counterpoint to Hobbes with Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s critique of society and his account of the state of nature.
Chapter 5: Constitutional and Representative Government
Covers John Locke’s philosophy on the origins, nature, and purpose of government and his labor theory of property, the foundations of the U.S. political philosophy and governmental system, Edmund Burke on conservatism, J.S. Mill on democracy, and systems of constitutional monarchy in Europe
Chapter 6: Capitalism and Marxism
Adam Smith’s economic theories and his view of the independent individual in competition with other individuals. The development of industrial capitalism in the 19th century. The anti-capitalist response by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ in Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto and the various forms of social and political thought inspired by Marx.
Chapter 7: 20th Century Theories
The chapter will cover the grand theorizing of the 20th century, such as Post-Marxist theory including György Lukács, the Frankfurt School, and others, and fascism. Also: Theories of democracy and representative government such as John Dewey. 20th century defenders of capitalism like Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman.
Chapter 8: Human Rights. Critical Theory, and Social Justice
This chapter will discuss the development of the concept of human rights leading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of liberty by J.S. Mill and Isaiah Berlin, and conceptions of equality. It will also deal with issues of injustice, subordination, and oppression, and second and third generation critical theory.
Chapter 9: Radical Social Theories
Post-modern and anti-modern critique, Michel Foucault, feminist and gender theory, critical race theory, anti-colonialism, radical socialism. Hannah Arendt’s On Revolution and Totalitarianism.
Chapter 10: [Overflow?]