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PHIL 324: Social and Political Philosophy .PHIL 324: Social and Political Philosophy (Winter 2013)

Jul 01, 2018

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  • PHIL 324: Social and Political Philosophy (Winter 2013) 1 of 8

    PHIL 324: Social and Political Philosophy Winter 2013: Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 12:301:20 pm. HH 139 Professor: Mathieu Doucet Office: Hagey Hall 328 Email: mdoucet@uwaterloo.ca Phone: 888-4567 ext 32824 Office hours: Mon, Wed 2:003:00, or by appointment or by chance

    Course website: Through LEARN

    Course Description The state has a remarkably wide-ranging influence on our lives. It tells us what we cannot do and what we must do, provides us with benefitssuch as health care, education, and clean waterand makes significant demands of ussuch as paying taxes, voting, and obeying the law. What is it that makes the states exercise of this power legitimate (if anything)? This course explores various aspects of this question, including: what kind of political system is most just? Is economic inequality unjust? If so, why? How should a multicultural society (like ours) handle the many competing demands of the cultural groups that live within it? What obligationsif anydo wealthy nations have toward the nations of the developing world? Does justice require wealthy liberal democracies to intervene militarily in the affairs of undemocratic states?

  • PHIL 324: Social and Political Philosophy (Winter 2013) 2 of 8

    How the course will work In part because of the wide-ranging influence politics has on our lives, almost all of us have opinions about it. One of the aims of the course is to put those opinions to the testto see whether they hold up to rational examination, and so to explore the ways that philosophy is relevant for understanding important political challenges of our day.

    This means that the aim is to have a student-centered and student-led course, where youthe students in the classset the agenda, decide what we talk about, and lead discussion. I will therefore aim to do relatively little lecturing in classinstead, my role will be to facilitate discussion. In part, this will be done through the online discussion portion of the class, where you will be able to pose questions and suggest example for discussion in class. Class meetings will involve some lecture, but will be mostly given over to discussion of the readings and their application to contemporary political issues.

    The course will be successful if you take this responsibility seriously, and take the time to prepare for discussion by carefully considering the readings and participating in prepare for class. My responsibility in turn is to ensure that discussion is focused, and to ensure that the connections between the philosophical texts we read and the political issues we discuss is made clear. Learning Objectives (What you should get out of the course): By the end of the course, you should be able to:

    a. Summarize and distinguish several of the central concepts and positions in social and political philosophy.

    b. Clearly explain, in speech and in writing, key concepts and arguments in social and political philosophy.

    c. Apply positions and concepts from social and political philosophy to contemporary political debates and challenges.

    d. Critically evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, implications, and assumptions of positions and arguments in social and political philosophy.

    This course will help develop the skills to: e. Read and critically evaluate arguments in philosophical texts. f. Write clear, well-structured explanations and assessments of philosophical

    arguments. g. Understand and evaluate the complex political debates of our day.

    Learning Activities (What you should do to get it): In order to achieve these objectives, you should:

    Do the readings prior to class. What you get out of the class is proportionate to what you put into it. Many of the readings are relatively short, but they can be difficult. You will get the most out of the class if you read them carefully and more than once, both before and after the class.

    Read the discussion questions and case studies that your classmates post online. Bring your copy of the texts to class.

  • PHIL 324: Social and Political Philosophy (Winter 2013) 3 of 8

    Be in your seat ready to participate at the beginning of class, and remain until the end of class.

    Participate in discussion and debateask and answer questions, offer arguments and objections, and share your views.

    Take notes in class and review them. Restrict the use of your laptop in class to taking notes and reviewing readings. Refrain entirely from the use of cell phones, including for texting. (Just put them

    away for 50 minutes.) Ask questions when you are unclear about concepts. Put serious thought into your assignments, including the online discussion. Finally, come to class ready to participate in a discussion about interesting and

    important questions about justice and politics. Text Jonathan Wolff, Introduction to Political Philosophy, 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press) 2006. Available in the University Bookstore.

    This text is entirely unchanged since the first edition. There are many used copies of both editions available online through Amazon.ca, abebooks.com, and other online retailers. You should feel free to buy a used copy of either edition if you can.

    All other readings for the course will be made available online through LEARN. Method of Assessment Work required Percentage of final grade Due date Online discussion 10% Throughout the term (see below) Midterm paper 20% Final paper 40% Midterm quiz (online) 15% Monday, February 25th Final quiz (online) 15% Monday, April 8th

    Online discussion (10%) Discussion questions (5%)

    5 times over the course of the term, you must post a question for discussion in class on the Discussion Questions discussion board. Questions need to relate to the next meetings reading, but are otherwise open-endedthey can ask for clarification, propose an objection, suggest a possible interpretation of an argument, or explore the connection between the reading and some contemporary political event or debate.

    Questions must be posted by 4:00 pm the day prior to the relevant reading. For example, questions on Heaths More democracy, which we discuss on Monday, Jan 21st, must be posted by Sunday, Jan 20th at 4:00 pm. This gives everyone in the class ample time to read the questions prior to class.

  • PHIL 324: Social and Political Philosophy (Winter 2013) 4 of 8

    Questions for readings that are discussed over more than one class must be posted prior to the first class in which the reading will be discussed. (The exceptions are Rawls and Nozick, since we will discuss different selections in each meeting.)

    You must post at least 5 questions, and at least 1 question per course module. Since there are only 4 modules, you must post at least 2 questions in at least 1 of the modules.

    If your question shows evidence of having done the reading and is relevant to the topic, you receive 1% credit, up to a maximum of 5%. (You are of course free to post more than 5 questions.)

    The purpose of the questions is to guide class discussion. Not all questions will be discussed in all meetings, but If you post a question on the discussion board, you should be prepared to elaborate on it in class as a way of leading into discussion. This means that if you are not in class to discuss a question you have posted, you will not receive credit.

    Case studies (5%)

    5 times over the course of the term, you must post an example/case study on the Case Studies discussion board prior to class. These are even more open ended than the discussion questionsthey need to relate to the modules topic, but the source is up to you. Some suggestions are: a link to a news story about a current event relevant; a link a news story from the distant (or not so distant) past; a link to a blog post; a link to a film or television clip; novels or poems; images that illustrate the modules topic, etc Be creative, and find examples youd be passionate about discussingthe idea is to come up with examples that will generate discussion and where the philosophical theories we are reading are relevant to real political issues.

    Case studies must be posted by 4:00 pm of the day prior to the 5th class meeting of each module. (The exception is if you are posting a second case study in a module.)

    You must post at least 1 case study per course module. Since there are only 4 modules, you must post at least 2 case studies in at least 1 of the modules.

    The purpose of the case studies is to guide class discussion. Not all case studies will be discussed in all meetings, but If you suggest a case study, you should be prepared to elaborate on it in the next meeting of class as a way of leading into discussion. This means that if you are not in class to discuss the case study you have posted, you will not receive credit.

    Papers The first paper (worth 20%) will be 3 pages in length, and is due on Friday,

    February 15th by 5:00 pm. The final essay (worth 40%) will be approximately 6 pages in length. The paper is

    due Friday, April 12th by 11:59 pm. Papers submitted after April 12th but prior to Sunday, April 14th at 11:59 pm will not receive late penalties, but will not receive comments.

  • PHIL 324: Social and Political Philosophy (Winter 2013) 5 of 8

    All late papers are subject to a penalty of 5% per day. No late submissions will be accepted once graded assignments have been returned to the class.

    Essay questions will be made available at least 2 weeks prior to the due date. All papers must be submitted online via LEARN in the relevant Dropbox in one of

    the following file formats: .doc, .docx, .rtf, or PDF. Hard copes wil