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.