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   Course Title    Contemporary Political Philosophy
Lecturer    Marian Kuna
Institution    Chatholic University of Ruzomberok
Country    Slovakia


The aim

This course is intended to provide an introduction to contemporary Anglo-American analytical political philosophy. However, due to the time constraints it is not possible to do this in a comprehensive way. Therefore the course covers a selection of issues in the given field. The topics have been chosen to fit the general theme of this course which is: ‘How can political philosophy respond to continuing, profound and seemingly irreconcilable disputes about the nature of the good life for the human beings?’.

I have chosen material for reading on the basis of the following consideration: how important a role does a particular author play in the effort to solve this question. My choice, due to obvious limitations, means that some approaches will be untouched. However, I believe that this is the way to do justice to the question and examine it in a reasonably deep way. The course is meant as a start and if it motivates the further study of the problem it will fulfil its most fundamental aim.

Organisation

I. Teaching Methods: Teaching in this course will consist of a combination of lectures and seminars (both lasting two hours) alternating weekly. The lectures are intended to put down the area, the basic problems and to outline the possible implications of different ways of approaching the issue in question. Every seminar is introduced by a student-given paper (a presentation). Every student is expected to have done all of the reading and to be prepared to talk. The seminars are intended to be opportunities for the collaborative analysis of different problems. Therefore it is also important to read all the material and to think critically about what have you read.

II. Assessment requirements: Students are required to submit one essay by the end of the third week after the last seminar of the term. They are also expected to formulate a precise question, which must be cleared with me before they commence work. The essay must be typed, double spaced and must not exceed 3000 words.

Objectives

Students become familiar with some of the basic issues in contemporary Anglo-American political philosophy. They improve their ability to read, think and discuss critically relevant issues. They should also become aware of limitations and the unavoidably partial character of all the answers concerned in a particular problem.

Reading material limitations

The course will be taught in Slovakian but some of the texts on the reading list are available only in English. I will try to provide you with all the necessary translations. On the other hand students are advised to read the text in original.

List of Lectures and Seminars

Week 1 & 2

Lecture : Morality, Normative ethics and Meta-ethics or ‘How we can go about justifying moral claims?’

Seminar : Reading Questions

What are the possible levels of justification in respect to moral claims?

What is the difference between morality, normative ethics and meta-ethics?

What are moral realism, scepticism and relativism?

Are there any moral facts?

If so, how can we know they are?

Why and how do moral propositions motivate us?

Ricken, Friedo Obecna Etika (General Ethics), chapters 2 ‘Pojem a ukol etiky’ (‘The Concept and Role of Ethics’) chapter 3 ‘Pozadavek po zduvodnitelnosti moralnich vet’ (‘The Requirement of Justifiability of Moral Claims’)

Smith, Michael ‘Realism’, in Singer, Peter (ed) A Companion to Ethics pp 399-411

Rachels, James ‘ Subjectivism’, in Singer, Peter (ed.) Ibid. pp 432-442

Wong, David, ‘Relativism’, in Singer, Peter (ed.) Ibid. pp 442-451

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, chapter 2:’The Nature of Moral Disagreement Today and the Claims of Emotivism’

Week 3 & 4

Lecture: Utilitarianism and the Problem of Justice

Seminar: Reading Questions

What is utilitarianism?

What are differences between rule and act, direct and indirect utilitarianism?

Is any version of utilitarianism defensible?

What are Rawls’s criticisms of utilitarianism and what is he trying to achieve in theory of justice?

Kymlicka, Will Contemporary Political Philosophy, chapter 2 ‘Utilitarianism’

Rawls, John A Theory of Justice, sections 1-4,8

Kukathas, Ch. Pettit, P. Rawls: A Theory of Justice and its Critics, chapters 1 ‘A New Departure’

chapter 2 ‘A Contractarian Theory’ and chapter 3 ‘A Theory of Justice’

Week 5 & 6

Lecture: Rawls’s Intuitive and Contractual Arguments or ‘ Why Should We be Just?’

Seminar: Reading questions

Does it make sense to talk of people deserving their natural talents and abilities?

Should we design social institutions so as to reward those who, through their natural talents and abilities, contribute more?

Can we endorse equality of opportunity and resist Rawls’s argument for the morally arbitrary status of natural talents and abilities?

What are the constraints of the original position and what they are for?

What role does the original position play in Rawls’s theory?

Why a contract?

Rawls, John A Theory of Justice sections 10-17, 20-27, 29-30, 40, 67-72, 75-76, 86

Kymlicka, Will Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction, chapter 3 ‘Liberal Equality’ pp 50-76

Kymlicka, Will ‘Social Contract Tradition’ in Singer,Peter A Companion to Ethics pp 186-197

Koller, Peter ‘Nove teorie smlouvy’ (‘The New Contract Theories’), in Ballestrem & Ottmann (eds.)(1993)

Mulhall, S. & Swift, A. Liberals and Communitarians, chapter: ’Introduction: Rawls’s original position’

Barry, Brian Theories of justice, sections 26-28

Week 7 & 8

Lecture: MacIntyre’s Critique of Liberalism

Seminar: Reading Questions

What does MacIntyre mean by ‘the Enlightenment Project of Justifying Morality’?

What are the consequences of the failure of this project?

What is the difference between this project and Aristotle’s ethical theory?

Do we need have the teleological view of human nature?

What are MacIntyre’s objections against some contemporary theories of justice (Rawls and Nozick)?

MacIntyre, Alasdair After Virtue, chapter 4 ‘The Predecessor Culture and the Enlightenment Project of Justifying Morality’

chapter 5 ‘Why the Enlightenment Project of Justifying Morality Had to Fail?’ chapter 17 ‘Justice as a Virtue: Changing Conceptions’

Mulhall, S. & Swift, A. Liberals and Communitarians, chapter 2 ‘MacIntyre: morality after virtue’

Kuna, Marian ‘MacIntyreova kritika liberalizmu’ (MacIntyre’s Critique of Liberalism)

Mendus, Susan (ed.) After MacIntyre, ‘Introduction’

Forst, Reiner ‘Komunitarismus a liberalismus- stadia diskuse’ (Communitarianism and Liberalism- the stages of the debate), in Velek Josef (ed.) (1996)

Week 9 & 10

Lecture: MacIntyre’s Virtue Ethics

Seminar: Reading Questions

How are morality and culture related in MacIntyre’s theory?

What is meant by a ‘virtue’?

Is there any core conceptions of the virtues?

What is meant by a ‘practice’?

Do you agree with MacIntyre’s definition of the human being as ‘a story-telling animal’?

Does MacIntyre’s emphasis on the importance of moral tradition for our understanding of what is right/wrong imply moral relativism?

Do you think liberalism can be considered to be a tradition?

MacIntyre, Alasdair After Virtue, chapter 15 ‘The virtues, the Unity of Human Life and the Concept of a Tradition’

chapter 18 ‘After Virtue: Nietzsche or Aristotle, Trotsky and St.Benedict’

MacIntyre, Alasdair Whose Justice Which Rationality, chapter 17 ‘Liberalism Transformed into a Tradition’ (Slovak translation, in Novosad Frantisek (ed.) (1991))

Kuna, Marian ‘MacIntyreova etika cnosti’ (‘MacIntyre’s Virtue Ethics’)

Week 11 & 12

Lecture: Charles Taylor’s Interpretation of Modernity and his Ethics of Authenticity

Seminar: Reading Questions

What are the three ‘malaises’ of modernity?

What are three positive aspects of individualism?

What is the ‘disenchantment’ world?

Does Taylor favour the position of Modernity’s boosters or Modernity’s knockers?

What three things does Taylor aks us to believe in order to engage in his ‘work of retrieval’ of the ideal of authenticity?

What is the ‘ new form of inwardness’ which comes about with the modern age?

Taylor, Charles The Ethics of Authenticity, chapter 1 ‘Three Malaises’

Chapter 2 ‘The Inarticulate Debate’

Chapter 3 ‘The Sources of Authenticity’

Taylor, Charles ‘Cross Purposes: The Liberal-Communitarian Debate’ (a Czech translation, in Kis Janos (ed) (1997) pp 465-495

Mulhall,S. & Swift,A. Liberals and Communitarians, chapter 3 ‘Taylor: the sources of the liberal self’

Barsa, Pavel ‘Dilemata moderniho cloveka ve filosofie Charlesa Taylora’ ( ‘The Modern Man’s Dilemmas in Charles Taylor’s Philosophy’)

Nagl, Ludwig ‘Meze etickeho univerzalizmu? Analyza knihy Charlesa Taylora "The Malaise of Modernity"’ (The Limits of Ethical Universalism? The Analysis of Charles Taylor’s The Malaise of Modernity’, in Velek Josef (ed) (1997) pp13-40

Bibliography

Barry, Brian (1989) Theories of Justice (Oxford, Oxford University Press)

Barsa, Pavel ‘Dilemata moderniho cloveka ve filosofii Charlesa Taylora’ (‘The Modern Man’s Dillemas in Charles Taylor’s Philosophy’) Politologicky Casopis, Brno,CDK 1997

Forst, Reiner ‘Komunitarismus a liberalismus- stadia diskuse’ (Communitarianism and Liberalism- The stages of the debate), in Velek Josef (ed.) (1996) pp39-84

Ballestrem, Karl & Ottmann, Henning (eds.) (1993) Politicka filosofie 20.stoleti (Political Philosophy of the 20. Century) (Praha, OIKOYMENH)

Kis, Janos (ed.) (1997) Soucasna politicka filosofie (Contemporary Political Philosophy) (Praha,OIKOYMENH)

Koller, Peter (1992) ‘Nove teorie smlouvy’ (‘The New Contract Theories’), in Ballestrem, Karl & Ottmann, Henning (eds.) (1993)

Kymlicka, Will (1990) Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (Oxford, Oxford University Press)

(1993) ‘The Social Contract Tradition’, in Singer Peter (ed) (1993) A Companion to

Ethics, pp 186-197

Kukathas, Chandran & Pettit, Philip (1989) Rawls: A Theory of Justice and its Critics (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press)

Kuna, Marian ‘MacIntyreova etika cnosti’ (‘MacIntyre’s Virtue Ethics’), unpublished

---------- ‘MacIntyreova kritika liberalizmu’ (‘MacIntyre’s Critique of Liberalism’), unpublished

MacIntyre, Alasdair (1981) After Virtue (London, Duckworth)

---------- (the expected translation) Ztrata ctnosti, (a Czech translation of After Virtue) (Praha, OIKOYMENH)

---------- (1998) ‘Je patriotismus ctnosti?’ (a Czech translation of the article ‘Is Patriotism a Virtue?’), in Kis, Janos (ed.) (1997)

---------- (1992) ‘Liberalizmus transformovany na tradiciu’ (a Slovak translation of ‘Liberalism Transformed into a Tradition’), in Novosad, Frantisek (ed.) (1991)

---------- (1988) Whose Justice, Which Rationality (London, Duckworth)

Mendus, Susan (ed.) (1994) After MacIntyre: Critical Perspectives on the Work of Alasdair MacIntyre (Cambridge, Polity Press)

Mulhall, Stephen & Swift, Adam (1992) Liberals and Communitarians (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers)

Nagl, Ludwig ‘Meze etickeho univerzalizmu? Analyza knihy Charlesa Taylora "The Malaise of Modernity"’ (The Limits of Ethical Universalism? The Analysis of Charles Taylor’s The Malaise of Modernity’, in Velek Josef (ed.) (1997)

Novosad, Frantisek (ed.) (1991) O slobode a spravodlivosti (On Liberty and Justice) (Bratislava, Archa)

Pence, Greg (1993) ‘Virtue Theory’, in Singer, Peter (ed.) (1993) pp 249-258

Rachels, James (1993) ‘Subjectivism’, in Singer, Peter (ed.) (1993) pp 432-442

Rawls, John (1972) A Theory of Justice (Oxford, Claredon Press)

---------- (1995) Teorie spravedlnosti (a Czech translation of A Theory of Justice) (Praha, Victoria Publishing)

Ricken, Friedo (1995) Obecna etika (General Ethics) (Praha, Krestanska Akademie)

Singer, Peter (ed.) (1993) A Companion to Ethics (Oxford, Claredon Press)

Smith, Michael (1993) ‘Realism’, in Singer, Peter (ed.) (1993) pp 399-411

Taylor, Charles (1992) The Ethics of Authenticity (Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press)

---------- (1998) ‘Nedorozumeni v diskusi mezi liberali a komunitaristi’ (A Czech translation of ‘Cross-Purposes: Liberal Communitarian Debate’), in Kis, Janos (ed.) (1997)

Velek Josef (ed.) (1997) Etika Autonomie a Autenticity (The Ethics of Autonomy and Authenticity) Praha, Academia)

Velek Josef (ed.) (1996) (Spor o liberalismus a komunitarismus (The Controversy between Liberalism and Communitarianism) (Praha, Academia)

Wong, David (1993) ‘Relativism’, in Singer, Peter (ed.) (1993) pp 442-451



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