Political Philosophy

If much of modern political discourse is dispiriting, this is perhaps because it engages less and less with the ideas that make political life meaningful. Instead of assuming the entrenched positions of the left, the right or the centre, we will investigate the different ideas and competing intuitions that make sense of these positions. We will see that such apparently basic terms such as ‘justice’, ‘fairness’, ‘equality’ ‘rights’ and so on can be given different and competing interpretations, but that learning to analyse these can help make sense of the world around us and how we think about that world. The course will range from the agora of ancient Greece, through the tumult of the Enlightenment, the struggles of the 19th and the 20th Century and the howling denizens of today’s internet-driven political culture. We will look to contextualise debates through the analysis of real world problems and also examine the question of whether the political philosophies of the past and even the present can be adequate to the looming political issues of the near future.

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