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Social and Political Thought Research Seminar


January 11th Geoffrey M. Hodgson (Hertfordshire): “The Evolution of Morality and the End of Economic Man”

January 18th Andrew Edgar (Cardiff): “The Social Facticity and Autonomy of Sport: Discovering Adorno’s Critical Theory of Sport”

January 25th Alana Lentin (Sussex): “Good and Bad Diversity: The Crises of Multiculturalism as a
Crisis of Politics”

February 1st Sean Sayers (Kent): “Marx and Ethics”

February 8th Christopher Norris (Cardiff): Platonism in Music

February 15th Göran Therborn (Cambridge): “Cities of Power: How Power Manifests Itself in Built Forms”

February 22nd Samuel Knafo (Sussex): “Beyond the False Promise of Reflexivity : Towards a Methodology for Critical Theory”

February 29th Sue Currell (Sussex): “Social Work and Eugenic Resettlement in 1930s America: A Case Study in the Failure of Welfare

March 7th Graduate work in progress seminar

March 14th Darian Meacham (UWE): “L’Être hétérosexual c’est être homosexual médiatement’ (and other properly liberal ideas)” Read more

Political and Legal Philosophy:Constructivism & Critical Theory 848V7

Optional course, Philosophy MA, and Social and Political Thought MA

Spring Term 2009:

Seminar Room and time Wed 11-1 p.m. BH 252

Course convenor: Gordon Finlayson,, tel. (87)6629, Arts B340

Office hours: Tuesday 2-4 p.m.

Department Coordinator: Robbie Robb, (87)7378, Arts B259.

Course Outline and Reading List

The term ‘Kantian constructivism’ was introduced by John Rawls to describe a procedure for deriving
moral, legal and political standards from the bare idea of what it is to be a person or a rational agent.
Versions of this strategy, with or without the name ‘constructivism’, can be discovered not only in
Rawls’s derivation of his principles of justice from choices made in an original position, and in Kant’s
moral philosophy, but also in other O’Neill, philosophers such as Habermas, Scanlon. The course will
examine the structure and cogency of various political constructivist arguments, and examine some
of the chief arguments against these positions.

  Read more


BA Philosophy optional course, final year

Spring and Summer Terms 2009

Sussex students should access the full course outline and reading list from the Information for Students web page on the  University of Sussex web site.

The course explores central questions in social and political philosophy as raised by some major historical figures and treated by contemporary political philosophers. It is both historical and thematic. Issues are explored thematically through readings of select core texts in the Western tradition of social and political philosophy, and by focusing on debates in the current literature. We will attempt to identify the meaning of basic concepts such as political sovereignty, authority, justification and legitimacy and to identify and adjudicate between competing conceptions of these. We will ask central questions such as: What is the state? What is the point of the state? What makes a state legitimate? What is the best form of government? What is democracy? What are the advantages and disadvantages of democratic government? What is society? What is the basis of social order? What kind of society is best? The second part of the course focuses more closely on contemporary debate surrounding Rawls’s liberalism and conception of justice, with particular emphasis on Habermas.

 1.     Aristotle on Nature and Justice:  The Polis exists by Nature & Man is by Nature a Political Animal

Aristotle’s Politics provides a good point of departure for anyone who is interested in the tradition of political philosophy. First, he did not make a distinction between society (of human beings) and the political community. Human association is, in its fully developed form, political association, i.e. a plurality of human beings living together in a polis. Second, however he addresses the question of what makes one political constitution or régime i.e. one type of society better than another? In his Ethics Aristotle says that all human beings seek eudaimonia (happiness human flourishing) or ‘the good life’. This consists in realising your nature as a human being, which in turn consists in living on the basis of reason i.e. acting virtuously. The rest of the Ethics enumerates the ‘virtues’ or specific excellences which we need to cultivate in order to be live in a rational way. But at the end of the Ethics Aristotle says that the virtues can only be cultivated within a ‘polis’. Correspondingly in the Politics he characterises the polis, by contrast with the household or the village, as that form of association which enables human beings to realise their nature as human beings. This is the basis for his recommendations in the rest of the Politics about how the state should be organised. Thus ‘A state is an association of similar persons whose aim is the best life possible. What is best is happiness, and to be happy is an active exercise of virtue and a complete enjoyment of it.’ (Politics 7.8).

Seminar Reading:
#Cahn pp.129-169.  Alternatively you can look at Aristotle: The Politics ed. Stephen Everson, CUP 1988.
Book I, 1-6, 13. The origins of the polis, the polis nature or convention; the elements of the polis, the role of slaves, natural and conventional slaves.
Book III What is a citizen; the relation between citizen and state vi criterion of good regime; discussion of the different regimes.
Book VII 1-5, 7-10, 13-15 The best state. Happiness and the good life for individuals and the polis;
Book VIII, 1 only.

The relevant passages of Aristotle’s Politics are available on-line at Perseus, Tufts University:

# Secondary Reading. Miller, F. D. Jr. (1995) Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle’s Politics, chs. 1-2.  Available on line.

*It is useful also to look at Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1, 1.1-1.4,  or, if you prefer the Stephanus pagination 1094a1-1094b12 on political science, Book 8, 9.6-9.64, or 1159b25-1161a10.
*Book IV 4 (1291b31) problems with various kinds of demokratia 11&12 role of the middle classes.
*Book V, 9 on loyalty and education.
*Book VI 2-5 on demokratia

Seminar Questions:
1.     What is the meaning of Aristotle’s claim that “man is by nature a political animal”?
2.     Why does he say that man is more political than any bee or other social animal?
3.     What according to Aristotle is the basis of the political community?
4.     What kind of things does Aristotle mean when he says that the state exists by nature?
5.     What does Aristotle say is characteristic of a good regime or polis?
6.     What are the different kinds of constitution and how does Aristotle rank them?
8.     What, for Aristotle, is the best kind of polis and why?

Further reading:

+ Barnes, J. (1982) Aristotle, chs. 17-18 (reprinted (2000) as Aristotle: a Very Short Introduction)
+ Mulgan, R. (1977) Aristotle’s Political Theory: An Introduction for Students of Political Theory, ch. 1-2
Everson, S. (1988) ‘Aristotle on the foundations of the state’, Political Studies
* Finley, M. Politics in the Ancient World, CUP 1983, ch 3 & 4 (ignore all the stuff about Rome) or
Democracy Ancient and Modern (London, 1985)
On the state exists ‘by nature’
Bradley, A.C. (1880) ‘Aristotle’s conception of the state’, in E. Abbott ed. Hellenica (reprinted in The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle.)
David Keyt ‘Three Basic theorems’ in Keyt and Miller, A Companion to Aristotle’s Politics, chapter 3.
Wolfgang Kullmann, ‘Man as a Political Animal’ in Keyt and Miller, A Companion to Aristotle’s Politics, chapter 4.
W. L. Newman, The Politics of Aristotle, 4 vols. (Oxford, 1887-1902) vol. 1 pp.24ff.
von Fritz, K. and Kapp, E. [1950] ‘The development of Aristotle’s political philosophy and the concept of nature’, in J. Barnes et. al. eds. Articles on Aristotle Vol. 2, 1977.
On Justice
Julia Annas, ‘Aristotle on Human Nature and Political virtue’, Review of Metaphysics  49. 996 pp. 731-53
Fred D. Miller, Jr., Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle’s Politics (Oxford, 1995).
Fred D. Miller, ‘Aristotle: ethics and politics’ in C. Shields ed. The Blackwell Guide to Ancient Philosophy (2003)
    B. Yack, ‘Natural Right and Aristotle’s Understanding of Justice’, Political Theory, 18(2) (1990)
Nussbaum, M. (1990) ‘Aristotelian social democracy’ in R.B. Douglass et al eds. Liberalism and the Good
Josiah Ober ‘The Polis as a Society: Aristotle, John Rawls and the Athenian Social Contract’, The Athenian Revolution: Essays on Greek Democracy and Political Theory, Princeton University Press (1996) ch. 10.
Bernard Yack, The Problems of a Political Animal: Community, Justice, and Conflict in Aristotelian Political Thought (Berkeley, 1993).
On participation
M. I. Finley, Democracy Ancient and Modern (London, 1985) and The Ancient Greeks
Mulgan, R. (1990) ‘Aristotle and the value of political participation’, Political Theory 18:2  
Josiah Ober The Athenian Revolution: Essays on Greek Democracy and Political Theory, Princeton University Press (1996) chs 8 & 9.
Malcolm Schofield ‘Sharing in the Constitution’ Review of Metaphysics  49. 1996 pp. 831-58
Delba Winthrop: ‘Aristotle on Participatory Democracy’ Polity 11, 1978, pp. 151-71

2.     Thomas Hobbes: Human nature, cooperation and political legitimacy

Hobbes begins from a standpoint diametrically and consciously opposed to Aristotle’s. There is no such thing as an objectively ‘good life’ for humans that consists in living rationally; rather
‘good’ is just a word we project onto whatever we happen to desire, and rationality is just a matter of doing what is effective in satisfying one’s desires (it is ‘instrumental rationality’). Humans do not have an inherent developmental drive to realise their telos of becoming rational beings, rather they are simply animals dominated by their desires, and first and foremost by the desire to stay alive. The justification for the state is not that in and through it humans can realise their telos, but that without it human interaction would degenerate into a violent chaos. In this session we will look at Hobbes’s account of human nature and his claim that a ‘state of nature’ – a situation in which there was no state – would become a state of permanent warfare between human beings. For Hobbes it follows that it is in the rational self-interest of each citizen to obey the laws of the state, for as long as the state is one that succeeds in forcing everyone else to obey the same laws, and every such is in that sense a ‘legitimate’ one. We will use two ‘games’ described by modern game theory – the ‘prisoner’s dilemmas’ and the ‘assurance’ game – to elucidate the exact nature of Hobbes’s argument. We will investigate the ‘laws of nature’, the idea that they bind ‘in foro interno’, and the idea of a contract in Hobbes’s argument for the state. Finally we will consider what responses an anarchist might make to Hobbes’s argument.

Seminar Reading: #Cahn pp.217-242
Or alternatively #Hobbes, T. [1651] Leviathan, Introduction, chs. 6, 11, 13-16, review and conclusion

#Read at least one article from list A and one from list B.
A:    On the state of nature and Hobbes’s contract argument for the state:
*    Hampton, J. (1995) ‘Contract and consent’ (omitting the section on Kantian contractarian theory) in Goodin and Pettit eds. A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy or Hampton, J. (1986) Hobbes and the Social Contract Tradition, chs. 2-3
Kavka, G. (1986) Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory chs. 3-4 or Kavka, G. (1983) ‘Hobbes’s war of all against all’, Ethics 93
Gauthier, D.P. (1969) The Logic of Leviathan, ch. 1 or Gauthier, D. (1988) ‘Hobbes’ social contract’ in Rogers and Ryan eds. Perspectives on Thomas Hobbes, secs. 1-3
M. Taylor, Anarchy and Cooperation, ch. 6: ‘Hobbes and the Prisoner’s Dilemma’.

B:    Responses to Hobbes’s argument:
    Taylor, M. (1976) Anarchy and Cooperation (or 2nd ed. 1987 as The Possibility of Cooperation) ch. 7 or Taylor’s Community, Anarchy and Liberty, 1982, ch. 2
    Macpherson, C.B. (1962) The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, ch. 2 or ‘Introduction’ to Penguin edition of Leviathan (1969) or ‘Hobbes today’ (1945) Canadian Journal of Philosophy, reprinted as ‘Hobbes’ bourgeois man’ in K.C. Brown ed. Hobbes Studies
    Miller, D. (1984) Anarchism, chs. 1-2
    Axelrod, R. (1984) The Evolution of Cooperation, chs. 1-2
Seminar questions:
1.    What is Hobbes’s view of human nature?
2.    What is the role of his state of nature?
3.    What role does it play in his political theory?
4.    Is it like the Prisoner’s Dilemma? If so, in what respect? If not, why.

3.    Kant’s Theory of Right and the Notion of External Freedom

Kant is arguably  the most important figure for contemporary political philosophy. Most contemporary constructivists combine their views with a particular interpretation of Kant’s moral philosophy and philosophy of right. In this session we will concentrate on his conception of right, his distinction between morality and law, his use of the idea of the social contract, and his principle of right.

Seminar Reading:
#Cahn pp. 379-388
#Kant [1793]  “On the Common Saying: ‘This May be True in Theory, but it does not Apply in Practice>’ in  Immanuel Kant: Political Writings, ed. Hans Reiss, CUP, Cambridge 1970 pp. 73-92.
Also available on-line, here:

# “Kant on Hobbes, peace, and obedience”, Timo Airaksinen and Arto Siitonen History of European Ideas  Volume 30, Issue 3, September 2004, Pages 315-328. Available online:

Seminar Questions:
1.    What is it, according to Kant, to treat someone as an end in themselves and not merely as a     means?
2.    What is the distinction between internal and external freedom?
3.    What does Kant mean by Right (Recht)?
4.    What is the principle of right?
5.    What is ultimate justification for law/right in Kant?
6.    What role does the idea of the contract play in Kant’s political philosophy?

Further Reading
Kant, I. [1797] The Metaphysics of Morals trans. M. Gregor, 1991 (recommended translation), Doctrine of Right: ‘Introduction to Doctrine of Right’ and §1-9, 36, 41-49, 49 remark A, 52, 62, Conclusion. (Some of this material can be found in Hans Reiss ed. pp.131-143

Introductions to Kant’s political philosophy:
Reiss, H. (1970) ‘Introduction’ to Reiss ed. Kant’s Political Writings, secs. 4-6
Hassner, P. (1973) ‘Immanuel Kant’, in Strauss and Cropsey eds. The History of Political Philosophy
Riley, P. (1986) The “Elements” of Kant’s Practical Philosophy: The Groundwork after 200 Years (1785-1985) Political Theory, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Nov., 1986), pp. 552-583
Sullivan, R.J. (1989) Immanuel Kant’s Moral Theory, chs. 16-17
Kersting, W. (1992) ‘Politics, freedom and order: Kant’s political philosophy’ in P. Guyer ed. The Cambridge Companion to Kant
Wood, A. Kant, Oxford, Blackwell, 2004, ch. 9.

Introductions to Kant’s ethics:
    Schneewind, J.B. (1992) ‘Autonomy, obligation and virtue: an overview of Kant’s moral philosophy’, in P. Guyer ed. The Cambridge Companion to Kant
    Korsgaard, C. (1998) ‘Introduction’ to Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, tr. M. Gregor
    Walker, R.C.S. (1998) Kant: Kant and the Moral Law, The Great Philosophers (a very short book)
    Guyer, P. (1998) ‘Introduction’ to Guyer, P. ed. Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals: Critical Essays
On Kant’s political philosophy and philosophy of right:
Arendt, H. (1982) Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy
K.Baynes, “Kant on Property Rights and the Social Contract”, The Monist, 72 (1989), pp. 433-53
L.W.Beck, “Kant and the Right of Revolution”, Journal of the History of Ideas, 32 (1971), pp. 411-22; also reprinted in his Essays on Kant and Hume, pp. 171-87
C.L.Carr, “Kant’s Theory of Political Authority”, History of Political Thought, 10 (1989), pp. 719-31
O.Hoffe, Immanuel Kant, ch. 9 [much commended by previous students]
(R) J.G.Murphy, Kant: the Philosophy of Right, ch. 4
Riley, P. (1983) Kant’s Political Philosophy
P.Riley, “On Kant as the Most Adequate of the Contract Theorists”, Political Theory, 12 (1973), pp. 450-70; also forms ch. 5 of his book Will and Political Legitimacy
Pippin, R.B. (1985) ‘On the moral foundations of Kant’s Rechtslehre’ in R. Kennington ed. The Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, reprinted in Pippin’s Idealism as Modernism
Taylor, C. (1984) ‘Kant’s theory of freedom’ in Z.A. Pelczynski and J. Gray eds. Conceptions of Liberty in Political Philosophy, reprinted in Taylor’s Philosophy and the Human Sciences: Philosophical Papers Volume 2, 1985

On the foundations of the principle of right:
    Riley, P. (1982) Will and Political Legitimacy, ch. on Kant
Taylor, C. (1984) ‘Kant’s theory of freedom’ in Z.A. Pelczynski and J. Gray eds. Conceptions of Liberty in Political Philosophy, reprinted in Taylor’s Philosophy and the Human Sciences: Philosophical Papers Volume 2, 1985
    Mulholland, L.A. (1989) Kant’s System of Rights
    Flikschuh, K. (2000) Kant and Modern Political Philosophy

4.        Hegel

Hegel is famously critical of the idea of the state as a social contract. He has several arguments. One is that contracts imply that a whole raft of norms, obligations and social attitudes are already in place, otherwise contracts themselves would never be honoured.  But such things, are only possible within the ethical life of a whole community, and ultimately within a state. So the social contract does not explain and justify the existence of the state, rather the other way round. The existence of the state explains the existence of contracts, even social contracts. Another is that he takes it to be a false implication of the social contract theory tha the purpose of the state is to protect the pre-given antecedently established interests and rights of  pre-social individuals. It presupposes what is generally called social atomism, or an atomistic social ontology. Hegel thinks that atomism is wrong – both an incorrect picture of what society is like – and pernicious insofar as it encourages self-interested individualism. Societies are not like that. Instead Hegel paints an organicist picture of society in which each individual citizen forms part of a whole – he calls this whole ‘ethical life’.  In being knowlingly and self-consciously part of an ethical whole, each individual actively pursues the common good alongside and indeed over and above its own good.

Seminar Reading:
#Cahn pp. 392-406  also
#G.W.F.Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, translated by Alan Wood, (Cambridge, 1992) §257-8 §260, §268, §270 + Addition
# Robert Stern, “Hegel’s Doppelsatz: A Neutral Reading”, in Journal of the History of Philosophy 44.2 (2006) 235-266. Online here:
*Patten A, Hegel’s Idea of Freedom Oxford, O.U.P. 1999, ch 1. Available online here:,|alan#acprof-0199251568-chapter-1

Seminar Questions:
1.    What does Hegel mean by “actuality”?
2.    What does Hegel mean by the statement ‘the state is the actuality of ethical life’?
3.    What according to Hegel are the salient characteristics of the modern state?
4.    Hegel argues that the state is the actualisation of concrete freedom? What is concrete freedom? How can it be actualized?
5.    What is the meaning of Hegel’s Doppelsatz?

Further Reading
*    F. Neuhouser, Foundations of Hegel’s Social Theory, Harvard U. P., 2000. ch  4.
*    Ilting K-H ‘Hegel’s Concept of the State’ in Pelczynski (1994): 211-26
*    Jackson M. ‘Hegel, the Real and the Rational’ in International Studies in Philosophy 19 (1987), 1-19 Reprinted in J. Stewart ed. (1996) pp. 19-26.
*    Hardimon, M. O. Hegel’s Social Philosophy: The Project of Reconciliation, Cambridge. C.U.P. 1994. esp. pp. 205-227.
+    D Knowles Routledge Guidebook to Hegel and the Philosophy o f Right, London: Routledge 2002, p. 303ff.
      Patten A, Hegel’s Idea of Freedom, Oxford, O.U.P. 1999. See above.
+    R Plant, Hegel: An Introduction (2nd edn [1983] has two extra chapters)  Very good thematic and cultural historical account of Hegel with an emphasis on the politics. Chapters on writings prior to our text makes it a good companion to it.
+   R Schacht, “Hegel on Freedom”, in A C MacIntye, ed., Hegel: A Collection of Essays, pp. 288-328; also reprinted in Schacht’s Hegel and After, pp. 69-94.  
*   S. B. Smith, Hegel’s Critique of Liberalism: Rights in Context.  Chs. 3-5. Jon Stewart (ed.), The Hegel Myths and Legends (1996).
*   P G Stillman  “Hegel’s Critique of Liberal Theories of Right”, American Political Science Review, 68 (1974). Reprinted in R Stern, ed., G.W.F Hegel:      Critical Assessments, vol. IV
    Jon Stewart (ed.), Hegel Myths and Legends (Northwester University Press, 1996).
*   Charles Taylor, Atomism, in Philosophical Papers 2, (2 vols) Cambridge, CUP 1985, also in  A Kontos ed. Powers, Posessions and Freedoms, University of Toronto Press 1979, reprinted in Communitarianism and Individualism, S. Avinieri and A de- Shalit eds. OUP 1992 ch. 2 pp. 29-51. Seminar questions:

5.    Legitimacy, Authority and Justification

This topic is going to help us get some basic concepts clear, and to clariky the questions that we can bring to bear on the historical figues we have looked at and the contemporary theorists we are going to focus on in the rest of the course. What is it to justify the state? What is the difference between justification, legitimacy, and authority?

#See T Cristiano, “Authority” Stanford Enclyopedia of Philosophy  Sections 1,2 & 5.
# Allen Buchanan,  “Political Legitimacy and Democracy,” Ethics, 112, vol 4, 2002, 689-719. Available on-line:
#A John Simmons, “Jusitification and Legitimacy”, Ethics, 109, vol 4, 1999, 739-771. Available online:

Seminar Questions
What according to Simmons does political legitimacy consist in?
What according to Simmons does political justification consist in?
What is the relation between them
How does Buchanan distinguish between political authority, political legitimacy and political authorization?
How do these distinctions apply to the theorists we have looked at so far?

6.    John Rawls A Theory of Justice

Rawls’s A Theory of Justice is widely regarded as the founding text of contemporary egalitarian political philosophy. In it he argues that we can derive the principles of social justice – of the proper distribution of burdens and benefits in society – which ought to govern our evaluation of any particular social structure by working out what principles people would choose to govern their society if they were choosing in an ‘original position’ behind a ‘veil of ignorance’, in which no-one knew anything about themselves or about what position in society they occupied. He concludes that in such a position people would choose a principle of liberty  and a ‘difference principle’ calling for equality of opportunity and for the elimination of all economic differences except those that improve the economic position of the worst off. We will examine Rawls’s justification of his two principles and in particular the role that his conception of the self plays in it, and ask whether the justification succeeds.

Seminar Reading: #Cahn pp. 477-492
Alternatively #Rawls, J. (1971 or 2nd ed. 1999) A Theory of Justice, sections §1-4, 8, 11, 40, 60 & 68.
#Mulhall, S. and Swift, A. (1992) Liberals and Communitarians (or 2nd ed. 1996), pp. 1-9

*Nozick R. ‘Distributive Justice’ in Contemporary Political Philosophy: an Anthology eds Goodin and Pettit, pp. 218-47.

Seminar questions:
1. How convincingly does Rawls derive his principles of justice from his original position?
2. Why should reflection on choices made in Rawls’s original position affect our views on the justice of actual social arrangements?
3. In what way is the original position as Rawls defines it based on our shared moral intuitions?
4. Is the maximin principle a license to justified inequality?
Further Reading
to Rawls (read any two):
+    Wolff, J. (1996) An Introduction to Political Philosophy, pp. 168-189
+    Rogers, B. (1999) ‘Portrait: John Rawls’, Prospect, June 1999 (an illuminating account of Rawls the man; A13)
+    Kymlicka, W. (1990/2002) Contemporary Political Philosophy, ch 3 ‘Liberal equality’
*    Mulhall, S. and Swift, A. (1992) Liberals and Communitarians (or 2nd ed. 1996), ‘Introduction’ pp. 1-9
*    Rawls, J. (1958) ‘Justice as Fairness’ Philosophical Review 67, reprinted in Quinton ed. Political Philosophy, also in Goodin and Pettit eds. Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology (Rawls’s first sketch of his theory)
*    Kukathas, C. and Pettit, P. (1990) Rawls: A Theory of Justice and its Critics, chs. 1-4
    Daniels, N. (1975) Reading Rawls, introduction
    Brown, A. (1986) Modern Political Philosophy, ch. 3
    Campbell, T. (1988) Justice, ch. 3
    Kolm, S.-C. (1995) ‘Distributive justice’ in Goodin & Pettit eds. A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy

7.    The Communitarian Critique of Rawls.

Michael Sandel argues that the concept of the self as a purely rational chooser on which Rawls relies is unrealistic since every individual is in fact already steeped in the values of their particular society. This critique applies implicitly to the whole constructivist tradition. John Gray asserts that the very idea of human beings as free agents fundamentally distinct from other animals is simply a long-standing illusion of Western religion and philosophy.

Seminar Reading:
#Sandel, M.J. (The Procedural Republic and the Unencumbered Self, Political Theory, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Feb., 1984), pp. 81-96 Available online: Reprinted in in Contemporary Political Philosophy: an Anthology eds. Goodin and Pettit, pp. 247-56.
*Sandel, M.J. (1982) Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, 2nd ed. 1988, introduction, chs. 1-3, conclusion
*Walzer, M. (1983) Spheres of Justice, preface, ch. 1

Seminar Questions:
What are Sandel’s chief Objections to Rawls’s Theory of Justice?
What does Sandel mean by the unencumbered Self?
Where, if anywhere, do his criticisms bite?
Can political constructivism provide a basis for justifying a legal order if it is based on a conception of the self that is (a) produced or (b) reinforced by that same order?
How should a political constructivist respond to Sandel’s critique of Rawls?

Further Reading
Pogge, T. (1989) Realizing Rawls, ch. 2 ‘Sandel and the conception of the person’  [m]
+    Kukathas, C. and Pettit, P. (1990) Rawls, ch. 7
+    Mulhall, S. and Swift, A. (1992) Liberals and Communitarians: An Introduction, 2nd ed. 1996, Introduction, chs. 5,6
#Gray, J. (2002) Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, Granta, pp. 37-52

8.    Rawls’s Political Liberalism

Seminar Reading:
Revised as lecture 1, secs. 1-5 of Rawls’s Political Liberalism 1993.
# Rawls, J. Political Liberalism Lecture 3 “Political Constructivism” §1-4
# Rawls, J. Political Liberalism Lecture 4 “The Idea of an Overlapping Consensus” §1-5

*+Kymlicka, W. (2002) Contemporary Political Philosophy¸ 2nd ed., ch. 6 sec. 7 ‘Political liberalism’

Seminar Questions:
What does Rawls mean by calling this conception of justice a ‘political’ one?
What is a comprehensive doctrine?
What is a reasonable comprehensive doctrine?
What does the requirement of reasonableness amount to?
Why is justice for Rawls not a comprehensive doctrine?
What is an overlapping consensus?

Further Reading:
Raz, J. ‘Facing Diversity: The Case of Epistemic Abstinence’,  Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Winter, 1990), pp. 3-46. Available on-line:
Reprinted in Raz, J. Ethics in the Public Domain, Oxford, 1194 ch. 4.

10.     Jürgen Habermas on Democracy and Civil Society

Seminar Reading:
# Habermas, “Three Normative Models of Democracy”. Cahn pp. 524-541[Reprinted in Habermas The Inclusion of the Other: Studies in Political Theory, ed. C. Cronin and De Greiff, CambridgeMass.: , MIT Press, 1998.]
# Habermas: “Reconciliation through the Public Use of Reason: Remarks on John Rawls’s Political Liberalism,” Journal of Philosophy XCII: no. 3 (March 1995) [Reprinted in Habermas The Inclusion of the Other: Studies in Political Theory, ed. C. Cronin and De Greiff, CambridgeMass.: , MIT Press, 1998. part II chapter 2.]

And one of the following articles
#Baynes, K. (1995) ‘Democracy and the “Rechtsstaat”: Habermas’s “Faktizität und Geltung”‘, in S.K. White ed. The Cambridge Companion to Habermas
#Scheuerman, W.E. (1998) ‘Between radicalism and resignation: democratic theory in Habermas’s Between Facts and Norms’ in P. Dews ed. Habermas: A Critical Reader

Seminar Questions:
1.    What according to Habermas is the idea of popular sovereignty?
2.    What is the idea of  human rights?
3.    According to Habermas how do these ideas relate to one another?
4.    According to Habermas does liberal democracy succeed in uniting them in practice? If so how?
5.    In what sense, if any, is Habermas a liberal?
6.    How according to Habermas does democracy deal with the problems of modern society, especially problems of diversity, disagreement and pluralism?
7.     What are Habermas’s chief criticisms of Rawls?

Further Reading
+*If you don’t know anything about Habermas read my Habermas: A Very Short Introduction, OUP 2005, esp ch. 6,7, and 8.

Habermas’s Theory of law and democracy:
    O’Neill , O. (1994) ‘Practical reason and possible community: a reply to Jean-Marc Ferry’, Ratio Juris 7:3
    Peters, B. (1994) ‘On reconstructive legal and political theory, Philosophy and Social Criticism 20:4
    Baynes, K. (1995) ‘Democracy and the “Rechtsstaat”: Habermas’s “Faktizität und Geltung”‘, in S.K. White ed. The Cambridge Companion to Habermas
    Scheuerman, W.E. (1998) ‘Between radicalism and resignation: democratic theory in Habermas’s Between Facts and Norms’ in P. Dews ed. Habermas: A Critical Reader
    Olson, K. (2003) ‘Do rights have a formal basis? Habermas’ legal theory and the normative foundations of the law’, Journal of Political Philosophy 11:3
Habermas’s discourse ethics:
    Habermas, J. [1982] ‘Discourse ethics: notes on philosophical justification’, in S. Benhabib and F. Dallmayr eds. The Communicative Ethics Controversy 1990, also in Habermas’ Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action 1990
    Habermas, J. [1991] ‘Remarks on discourse ethics’, in Justification and Application: Remarks on Discourse Ethics, tr. 1993

11.    The Habermas Rawls Debate:

Seminar Reading:
#John Rawls, “Reply to Habermas” (also in Journal of Philosophy, vol. XCII, no. 3, March 1995); reprinted in Rawls Political Liberalism (N.B. not in the 1993 first edition but the subsequent editions in 1996 and 2005) Lecture IX, p. 372-435.
# Christopher McMahon Journal of Philosophy  Vol. XCIX, NUMBER 3
March 2002, pp. 111-129 ‘Why There Is No Issue between Habermas and Rawls.’
# J.G. Finlayson, Habermas versus Rawls Redivivus.

Seminar Questions:

1.    What are Habermas’s chief objections to Rawls? Are they good?
2.    What are Rawls’s objections to Habermas?
3.    Who, if anyone, gets the better of the exchange?
4.    On what grounds does McMahon argue that there is no real issue between them? Is he correct?
5.    Is there an Issue between Rawls and Habermas?

6.    On what grounds does McMahon claim there is no issue between Rawls and Habermas?
    Is he right?  If not, what is the issue?

Additional texts:
*Habermas, J. [1992] Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy, ch. 3 (esp. from 3.1.2 onwards)
Habermas, J. (1988) ‘Law and morality’, Tanner Lectures on Human Values 8
Further Reading
*Thomas McCarthy ‘Kantian Constructivism and Reconstructivism: Rawls and Habermas in Dialogue’ Ethics 105, 1994, pp. 44-63
*Reasonable Democracy: Jürgen Habermas and the Politics of Discourse, Simone Chambers (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1996).
Heath, J. Communicative Action and Rational Choice, MIT Press 1999
+Outhwaite, W. (1994) Habermas: A Critical Introduction, ch. 3 ‘Communication and discourse ethics’ and ch. 9 ‘Law and the state’.

12.        The Feminist Critique of Liberalism    

Seminar  Reading:
#‘The Generalized and the Concrete Other: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Controversy and Feminist Theory’ in S. Benhabib, Situating the Self: Gender, Community and Postmodernism in contemporary Ethics. London, Routledge (1992). (Different versions of the Benhabib’s article can be found elsewhere: ‘The Generalized and the Concrete Other: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Controversy and Feminist Theory’ in S. Benhabib and D. Cornell (eds.) (1987): & Benhabib (1986). ‘The Generalized and the Concrete Other: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Controversy and Feminist Theory’. Praxis-International 5/4: 402-424.)
#Maihofer, A (1998). ‘Care’ in A. Jaggar and I. M. Young (eds.), (1998). A Companion to Feminist Philosophy. Oxford, Blackwell.
*Finlayson, J. G. “Women and the Standpoint of Concrete Others: From the Criticism of Discourse Ethics to Feminist Social Criticism” forthcoming.  Pdf available on sussex direct.

Seminar Questions:
1.    What Objections does Benhabib make?
2.    At whom or what are they directed?
3.    What political implications do they have, if any?
4.    What is the distinction between generalized and concrete others?
5.    Is the distinction temable?
6.    Does it give rise to any criticisms that can be directed at liberalism?

Further Reading:
Benhabib S. and Cornell D. (eds.) (1987). Feminism as Critique. Essays on the Politics of Gender in Late-Capitalist Societies. London, Polity Press. Blum, L. (1998). ‘Gilligan and Kohlberg: Implications for Moral Theory’, Ethics 98: 472-491.
Benhabib S. ‘The Debate over Women and Moral Theory Revisited’ in S. Benhabib, Situating the Self: Gender, Community and Postmodernism in contemporary Ethics. London, Routledge (1992).
Dean, J. (1995). ‘Discourses in Different Voices’ in J. Meehan (ed.) (1995).
Flanagan O. and Jackson K. (1987). ‘Justice Care and Gender: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Debate Revisited’ Ethics 97: 622-37.
Fraser, N. (1995). ‘What is Critical about Critical Theory’ in J. Meehan (ed.) 1995.  
Gilligan (1982). In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Cambridge Massachusetts, Harvard University Press
- (1986). ‘Remapping the Moral Domain’, in T. Heller, M. Sosna, and D. Wellbury (eds.), Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought. Stanford California, Stanford University Press.
Joanna Meehan (ed.) Feminists Read Habermas. London, Routledge (1995).
Kymlicka, W. (1989). Liberalism, Community and Culture. Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Okin, S. (1989). Justice, Gender and the Family. New York, Basic Books.
-    (1989a). ‘Reason and Feeling in Thinking about Justice.’ Ethics 99/2: 229-49.

13.     Revision of Exam Topics


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