PHIL 327: Contemporary Western Political Theory

PHIL 327-001: Contemp Western Pol Thry
(Spring 2022)

12:00 PM to 01:15 PM MW

Horizon Hall 5001

Section Information for Spring 2022

Instructor: Dr. James Gledhill (PhD: London School of Economics).

This course focuses on questions concerning political power and historical progress in contemporary political philosophy and critical social theory. A central focus will be the work of Jürgen Habermas, the leading figure of the second generation of the Frankfurt School of critical theory.

We will be looking at two important debates in which Habermas engaged in the 1980s and 1990s and considering their contemporary legacy: first, a debate with John Rawls regarding the philosophical foundations of constitutional democracy and, second, a debate with Michel Foucault regarding the nature of power and how to critique the exercise of political power.

In different ways, Rawls and Habermas view the history of the modern state as a progressive story in which, through a process of democratization, the exercise of political power is increasingly constrained by the rule of law and respect for individual rights. Foucault challenges this story by seeking to unmask the reality of the functioning of the modern sovereign state, which he understands as involving not the increasingly democratically legitimated exercise of sovereign power, but rather the development of mechanisms of disciplinary coercion.

The impact of these debates about power and progress continues to be felt within the tradition of Frankfurt School critical theory, particularly in recent exchanges between Amy Allen and Rainer Forst with which we conclude this course.  


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Exploration through lecture and discussion of recent developments in the Western tradition of political thought from the middle of the 19th century to today. Different sections focus on one or another of the various political theories that have been influential during this period such as liberal, libertarian, conservative, communitarian, Marxist, feminist, and postmodern thought. Notes: May be repeated for credit when topic is different. Equivalent to GOVT 327.
Specialized Designation: Topic Varies
Recommended Prerequisite: GOVT 101 or three credits of philosophy.
Schedule Type: Lec/Sem #1, Lec/Sem #2, Lec/Sem #3, Lec/Sem #4, Lec/Sem #5, Lec/Sem #6, Lec/Sem #7, Lec/Sem #8, Lec/Sem #9, Lecture, Sem/Lec #10, Sem/Lec #11, Sem/Lec #12, Sem/Lec #13, Sem/Lec #14, Sem/Lec #15, Sem/Lec #16, Sem/Lec #17, Sem/Lec #18
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.