Introduction to Philosophy 2: Moral and Political Philosophy

In this term we will be looking closely at issues in Moral and Political philosophy and exploring the connections between the two. The kind of questions we will be exploring include the following: are there any objective standards of what is morally right and wrong? Or are all such judgements always relative to a certain time and place or from person to person? What might the implications of this be? Can we turn to philosophers when trying to resolve ethical dilemmas in real life?

Turning to questions of social and political philosophy, we ask such questions as: are there any good, rational reasons why we should obey the laws of the State? What makes political authority legitimate, and when is it illegitimate and open to resistance? What is the proper relationship between the power of the State and the Freedom of the Individual? What do we really mean when we talk about freedom anyway? Can we really talk about ‘progress’ when it comes to the development of societies and culture, and what are the implications of an answer to this question? In exploring these ideas and others, we will come across the work of range of philosophers from the 17th Century up until today, including Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Bentham, Wollstonecraft, Marx, and more.

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