Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-226
Rafeeq Hasan (Section 01)
States are made up of individuals. And yet states have powers that no individuals have. They collect taxes, put us in jail, draft us into the army, tell us what we can and cannot own, etc. In general, states compel us to do things in the name of the ‘common good,’ even when that good conflicts with what we would individually prefer to do. In this course, an introduction to key concepts in Western political philosophy, we seek to understand what, if anything, could justify states’ having this power over us. To this end, we examine two philosophical issues raised by the state. (1) The problem of political obligation. Is there any reason why we ought to obey the law? What are the grounds for legitimate civil disobedience? (2) The question of distributive justice. What reasons are there to tax the rich in order to give to the poor? What is the role of the state in securing economic equality?
Readings include: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Nozick, Rawls, Elizabeth Anderson, and others.
Limited to 25 students. Priority is given to Amherst College students. In the Fall 10 seats will be reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Hasan.
If Overenrolled: Priority to majors, then on the basis of seniority and enrollment at Amherst.