PHI220 Political Philosophy

2017-18 Outline:

We are citizens in a democratic society, we vote and choose our representatives and our government, our representatives make laws that we must then follow. We do not obey the laws only for fear of being punished; we believe that our system of government is just, and that it is just for us to obey the laws. We believe that – by and large – we live in a just society. How did this complex relation between government and citizens come about? What justifies it? Are there alternative possible relations, alternative forms of citizenship, and alternative forms of government? Is ours the only just one? We will look at the history of political philosophy and explore various systems of citizenship and government. Our main aim will be to understand how these different systems justify or legitimize the existence of government and its authority to make and enforce laws. We will also look at the more general notion of ‘justice’ that accompanies and grounds these systems of government.

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

Lectures - Autumn 2017

Wednesday 10-12 noon - Hicks Building Lecture Theatre 5

Seminars (from Week 3)

Wednesday 3-4pm - 38 Mappin Street - G03
Thursday 1-2pm - 38 Mappin Street - G03
Thursday 2-3pm - 38 Mappin Street - G03