The course is an introduction to political philosophy, presenting a survey of the classical issues that have shaped political philosophy from Plato and Aristotle up to contemporary philosophers. The key concepts of liberty and equality will serve as leitmotif.

The course will expose the conceptual framework of the Ancients’ political theory, and the rupture introduced by modernity through the invention of the social contract, which deeply transforms the concept of natural law and hence of liberty; it also allows for a foundational ground for human rights. Interestingly, it arguably makes the notions of freedom and equality antagonistic: does equality threaten individual freedom, understood as the right to enjoy one’s private independence, or is there freedom only insofar as there is equality? Should equality then be conceived only as legal and political equality, or should it also encompass the social and economic realms? The contemporary re-exploration of the concept of justice by thinkers like Rawls will also be dwelt upon.

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Christine Habbard