PHI220 Political Philosophy

We are citizens in a democratic capitalist society, we vote and choose our representatives and our government, our representatives make laws that we must then follow. We do not only obey the laws only for fear of being punished; we believe that our system of government is just, and that it is juft for us to obey the laws. We believe that - by and large - we live in a just society. Do we? What justifies our system of government? Are there alternative possible relations, alternative forms of citizenship; alternative forms of government, alternative ways of organizing a society? Is ours the only just one? We will look at the history of political philosophy and explore various systems of citizenship, government and economic arrangements. Our main aim will be to understand how these different systems justify or legitimize the existence of government and its authority ot make and enforce laws. We will aslo look at the more general notion of 'justice' that accompanies and grounds these systems of government.

Two side concerns will be:- 1. The relation between a philosopher's view of ethics and her political philosophy 2. The relation between a philosopher's view of human nature and her political philosophy.

Course website


Two coursework essays (50%) and one exam (2 questions - 50%).

Advised for:


Note: This course is not available to those taking PHI208


Yonatan Shemmer