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COURSE NAME: "Freedom, Equality, and Democracy"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021

EMAIL: tbailey@johncabot.edu
HOURS: TTH 10:00 AM 11:15 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: Junior Standing. Corequisite: EN 110
OFFICE HOURS: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1.30-4 pm, Tiber faculty offices

This course introduces students to current philosophical debates over what makes a ‘just’ society, relating these debates to controversial issues in contemporary politics. In particular, students will develop their understanding of such crucial political ideas as ‘freedom,’ ‘equality’ and ‘democracy’ and of how these ideas can be interpreted and argued over in debates about issues such as healthcare, terrorism, poverty, immigration, and climate change.
The course is divided into two parts. In the first part, we will study five main approaches to politics – the liberal, socialist, libertarian, democratic and cosmopolitan. Then, in the second part, we will explore debates about the definition and value of the fundamental ideas of ‘freedom’, ‘equality’ and ‘democracy’ in relation to specific issues in contemporary politics.
More specifically, by the end of the course you will be able to:
• explain the positions and arguments involved in contemporary philosophical debates over justice, freedom, equality and democracy;
• discuss the interpretation, evaluation and application of these positions and arguments;
• develop your own reasoned views of the issues raised;
• glean philosophical meaning from readings of primary texts, and make use of secondary academic resources and guided research;
• do all this in appropriately academic oral and written forms and individual and group contexts.

Class participationI will give you a percentage grade for each class, and the average of these grades will constitute your final participation grade. Your grades will be based on how sophisticated an understanding and analysis of the relevant materials you display, how clearly and attentively you respond to what I and others say and how critically and thoroughly you show that you reflect on the issues raised. So, if you show that you have analyzed the materials well before class, contribute to class activities in thoughtful, relevant and collaborative ways and develop your own ideas about the issues raised, then you will receive an ‘A’ grade for the class. If you show some understanding and analysis of the materials, contribute actively to class activities and attend reflectively to the issues raised, then you will receive a ‘B’ grade. You will receive a ‘C’ grade if you show an understanding only of the basics of the materials, while contributing rarely or only when called upon and providing little thoughtful analysis. 20%
Online forum contributionsSince the class forum is intended to allow for free discussion, I will not assess the content of your posts. Your grade for this assessment will be simply the percentage of times that you post on time, out of the possible total posts. You may also miss up to two posts unexcused without this affecting your grade – I will just reduce the number of possible total posts accordingly when calculating your grade. 10%
Two written assignmentsYou will prepare a written assignment of 1800-2000 words at the end of each of the two main parts of the course. In each case, I will give you a set of questions from which to choose in the penultimate week of the relevant part of the course, although you may agree an alternative question with me. The assignment will be due a week later, after the review class. The grade for each assignment will be based on how well you explain the relevant ideas and arguments, how thoughtfully you discuss them and how clearly and logically you present your answer to the question. So, an assignment that accurately and thoroughly explains the relevant ideas and arguments, discusses them in reflective and analytical ways, and presents all of this precisely and as part of a clear answer to the question will receive an ‘A’ grade. If the assignment explains some of the relevant ideas and arguments accurately, provides some thoughtful discussion, and is generally clearly expressed and organized, it will receive a ‘B’ grade. A ‘C’ grade assignment will be one that attempts to answer the question and provides some account of some relevant ideas and arguments, but fails to explain others, gives little discussion and/or is unclearly expressed and organized.25% for the best one and 20% for the other
End of course written examinationThe examination will consist of an essay written over an hour and a half under examination conditions. The examination questions will be distributed on Thursday of week 13. At the examination in week 15, each of you will be given two of these questions to choose from, both on topics other than those of your written assignments. 25%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

A maximum of two unexcused absences from class will be accepted. Beyond this, a zero grade will be given for each unexcused absence, bringing your average grade down. It is your responsibility to inform me if you miss or cannot participate fully in a class for a good reason. Good reasons include illness, unavoidable appointments and transport strikes, but not trips, guests and malfunctioning alarm clocks. Note that arriving late to class, leaving for lengthy ‘toilet breaks’ and using a laptop or mobile phone in class also count as ‘unexcused absences’.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


1.                     Introduction to political philosophy                                       Shipwrecked

                        Part I. A toolbox of contemporary approaches

2.                     Liberalism                  Fairness                                               Public reasoning                     

3.                     Socialism                     A camping trip                                    Selfishness and hypocrisy

4.                     Libertarianism             Property                                              The minimal state                               

5.                     Democracy                  Deliberation                                        The public sphere                                                   

6.                     Cosmopolitanism        Duties to the global poor?                   Progress

7.                     Review for first written assignment + Project work preparation                   

                        Part II. Exploring freedom, equality and democracy

8.                     Freedom                      What is ‘freedom’?                             Free markets

9.                                                         Ideological illusions                            War

10.                   Equality                       Equality of what?                             Multiculturalism, feminism

11.                                                       Difference                                           Sustainability

12.                   Democracy                  How ‘democratic’ are we?                  Corrupted democracy

13.                                                       Governmentality                                 Religion

14.                   Preparation of second written assignment + Review for final examination

Basic bibliography

Below are the main philosophical readings that you will be expected to study for each class, arranged by week and class. Supplementary materials and bibliographical details will be given on the class website.

2. John Rawls, Justice as Fairness, §§ 1, 2, 3.1, 6.1-6.2, 7.1, 13.1-13.2 and 14.1-14.4        

    ­__, ‘The Idea of Public Reason Revisited’, Intro. and §§ 1.1, 2.4, 3 and 4.1

3. G.A. Cohen, Why not Socialism?, pp. 3-24 and 34-45                                                         

    __, If You’re an Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich?, pp. 117-128 and 142-145

4. Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia, pp. 10-17, 149-164, and 167-182            

5. Jürgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms, §§ 3.3, 4.2.2-3, 4.3.1-2, and 8                 

     __, The Inclusion of the Other, pp. 239-249

6. Thomas Pogge, ‘Eradicating Systemic Poverty’                                                      

    Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, Intro. and chs. 26-27

8. Isaiah Berlin, ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’                                                                              

   Charles Taylor, ‘What’s Wrong with Negative Liberty’

    Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, chs. 1-2                                                     

    Michael Sandel, What Money Can’t Buy, lect. 1

9. Slavoj Žižek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, pp. 24-30, 116-119, and 185-188                  

    Douglas Lackey, ‘Nipping Evil in the Bud’                                                                                  

    Fernando Tesón, ‘The Liberal Case for Humanitarian Intervention’, §§ 1 and 2

10. Ronald Dworkin, ‘What is Equality?’                                                                              

      Marilyn Fyre, ‘Oppression’                                                                  

      Chandran Kukathas, ‘Anarcho-Multiculturalism’

 11. Jacques Derrida, The Politics of Friendship                                                                    

       Edward Said, Orientalism, Intro. and ch. 3.iv                                                             

       James Garvey, The Ethics of Climate Change, chs. 3-5                                                      

 12. Joshua Cohen, ‘Deliberation and Democratic Legitimacy’                                        

       Hannah Arendt, On Revolution, ch. 6                                                              

       Noam Chomsky, ‘Domestic Constituencies’ and ‘Notes on Anarchism’          

13. Michel Foucault, ‘Power, Right, Truth’ and ‘Governmentality’                       

       Robert Audi, ‘Liberal Democracy and the Place of Religion in Politics’