Contemporary Political Philosophy
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
16 October 2023
Requisites for this module
BA MVC5 Philosophy and Law,
BA MVC6 Philosophy and Law (Including Placement Year),
BA MVC8 Philosophy and Law (Including Foundation Year),
BA VM51 Philosophy and Law (Including Year Abroad),
BA VM58 Philosophy and Law (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA LV25 Philosophy and Politics,
BA LV26 Philosophy and Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA LV2H Philosophy and Politics (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA LV2M Philosophy and Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BA LV8M Philosophy and Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA V5M8 Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
BA V5M9 Philosophy with Human Rights,
BA V5MX Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad),
BA V6M9 Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Placement Year),
BA VLM8 Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
LLB MV06 Law with Philosophy (Including Foundation Year),
LLB MV16 Law with Philosophy,
LLB MV18 Law with Philosophy (Including Year Abroad),
LLB MV19 Law with Philosophy (Including Placement Year)
This module will investigate the main competing approaches in contemporary political philosophy and discuss how they conceive of their object – the political – and how they understand philosophy's task vis-a-vis this object: What is the role of political philosophy? How should theory and theorists relate to real politics? What are the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches? How do these approaches relate to each other?
This module will begin with scrutinizing the assumptions underpinning the dominant approach in contemporary political philosophy, the liberal, ideal theoretical approach shaped by John Rawls, to then consider a range of alternative ways of doing political philosophy.
The aims of this module are:
- To learn about key approaches to contemporary political philosophy.
- To develop a better grasp of what politics is.
- To be able to critically examine the presuppositions and assumptions we often make when talking about politics.
- To appreciate the different ways in which political philosophy bears on politics.
By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:
- To summarise in their own words and critically assess the principal theories and philosophical perspectives examined in this course.
- To compare and evaluate conflicting accounts of the political, its values and principles.
- To offer detailed philosophical analysis and critique of journal articles published in the field.
- To demonstrate an understanding of the relation between political theory and practice by relating, for example, particular theories to their own experience of political life.
Skills for your Professional Life (Transferable Skills)
By the end of the module, students should also have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:
- Define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant.
- Seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information.
- Process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments.
- Compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure.
- Write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications.
- Be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them.
- Think 'laterally' and creatively - see interesting connections and possibilities and present these clearly rather than as vague hunches.
- Maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position if shown wrong.
- Think critically and constructively.
Incoming Study Abroad students must have already taken two Philosophy modules at their home institution.
This module will be delivered via:
- One 2-hour combined lecture and seminar per week.
- One 1-hour class per week.
Week 21 is Reading Week.
Rawls, J. and Kelly, E.L. (2001) Justice as Fairness
. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Available at: https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=2110245
Fraser, N. (1991) ‘The Force of Law: Metaphysical or Political?’, Cardozo Law Review
, 13, pp. 1325–1331. Available at: https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/cdozo13&i=1347
Geuss, R. (2008) Philosophy and real politics
. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Available at: https://www-jstor-org.uniessexlib.idm.oclc.org/stable/j.ctt24hr9j
Williams, B. and Hawthorn, G. (2005) In the beginning was the deed: realism and moralism in political argument
. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Available at: https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/universityofessex-ebooks/detail.action?docID=445427
Tully, J. (2008) Public philosophy in a new key
. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available at: http://www.vlebooks.com/vleweb/product/openreader?id=essexacuk&accId=7572256&isbn=9780511461910
Thomas, L. (2010) ‘Foucault’s Hypothesis: From the Critique of the Juridico-Discursive Concept of Power to an Analytics of Government’, Parrhesia
, (9), pp. 31–43. Available at: https://www.parrhesiajournal.org/parrhesia09/parrhesia09_lemke.pdf
Fraser, N. and Honneth, A. (2020) Redistribution or Recognition? London: Verso Books.
Miller, J. (2021) Politics of Perception and the Aesthetics of Social Change
. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: https://www-degruyter-com.uniessexlib.idm.oclc.org/document/doi/10.7312/mill20142/html
Taylor, C. and Gutmann, A. (1992) Multiculturalism and ‘The politics of recognition’: an essay
. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Available at: https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/universityofessex-ebooks/detail.action?docID=816125
Honneth, A. and Ranciere, J. (2016) Recognition or Disagreement
. NY: Columbia University Press. Available at: https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/universityofessex-ebooks/detail.action?docID=4471743
Ranciere, J. (2004b) Disagreement. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
Ranciere, J. (2004b) Disagreement. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
||Essay (2500 words)
||Essay Plan Presentation
Exam format definitions
- Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
- In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary,
for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.
Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Joerg Schaub, email: email@example.com.
PHAIS General Office - 6.130; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Josiah Saunders
Available via Moodle
Of 1386 hours, 18 (1.3%) hours available to students:
1368 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).
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