This seminar reviews normative reasons given for and against the concept of the Welfare State as an abstract political ideal. It explores issues such as the role of solidarity for political thinking, what duties of fair play towards fellow citizens amount to, what the connection between equality and liberty is, the ethical foundations of social rights, whether higher-order human needs such as self-development should be the province of social and economic rights, and many more. Importantly, it explores the normative basis of different types of “welfare state models.” The course also touches on innovative social policy proposals such the the Basic Income and the Participation Income, among others.
This course reviews the most important and general debates in political theory. It examines fundamental questions that have taxed political thinkers over the course of millennia from Plato and Aristotle, including social contractarian theorists like Hobbes and Locke, to 19th cenury thinkers like John Staurt Mill and Jeremy Bentham. The course is structured around basic thematic questions but also follows a chronological order. In this way, students can understand the historical evolution of political theory.
This course offers a critical introduction to the moral and political thinking of Aristotle; that towering figure in ancient Greek philosophy. It focuses on the Nichomachean Ethics and The Politics. Through the study of these systematic treatises, the students gain an understanding of Aristotle’s views on the nature of good government, the good life, happiness, virtuous citizenship, justice, and self-development.
Who decides what the Constitution mandates? What is the executive branch of government legally allowed to do without consulting the other branches? Does a right to privacy mean that abortion should be legal? Can evidence of criminal activity be used if it was obtained without a warrant? Should economic rights be included in the Constitution? Should there exist financial limits to what political candidates can spend when running for office? This course examines the foregoing questions by studying U.S. constitutional case law and interpretation in the manner of a Law School class.
This class uses different ethical theories such as Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics, and Kantianism to understand moral judgments for and against controversial and timely issues such as abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, immigration, the ethics of voting, the problem of dirty hands in politics, food politics and genetically modified products, multiculturalism and women’s rights, (redistributive) taxation, the justness of war, world hunger relief, healthcare as a right, the normative foundations of welfare rights, etc.
This course examines prominent contemporary theories of justice: utilitarian,libertarian, egalitarian, communitarian, and feminist. The course also shows the relationship between theories of justice and the values of liberty and equality. In its applications part, it examines notions of distributive justice, recognition, citizenship, feminism, multiculturalism, and global equality, among many others.
Theories of Democracy:
This course reviews the works of classical, modern and contemporary thinkers on the nature of democracy. Some of the questions it explores include: what is the role of representation in a democracy? What is the difference between participatory democracy and deliberative democracy? What is the relationship between democracy and majority rule? What is the relationship between democratic politics and rights? Should voting be seen as a duty or a freedom? Should it be legally compulsory? What does constitutionalism add to democracy? What is the connection between democracy and social justice?