Social Contract Theory

Course investigates the use of social contract as a device to legitimize specific forms of social and political organization. Explores the origins of the social contract tradition, its most influential iterations in early modern philosophy and its revival in contemporary philosophy. We will study the role of social contract theory in the rise of liberalism, the question of the legitimacy of the state and the right to resistance. Course will also ask about the limits and exclusions intrinsic to the social contract as it has been developed historically,

Injustice, Domination and Exploitation

What is injustice? Why it is wrong if one group dominates another? How does exploitation work? Is imperialism wrong, necessarily? Recent years have witnessed a surge of theoretical and philosophical inquiry into the nature and forms of injustice including misogyny, racism and economic exploitation. Will read and discuss works by a diverse range of authors like Tommie Shelby, Kate Manne and Miranda Fricker. Will encounter classic works on the nature of justice by authors like John Rawls.

Information, Technology, Ethics, and Policy

The evolution of the internet and other information technologies and the related policies and regulations that have emerged both internationally and nationally (in the United States). The tensions surrounding the access to information and the controversies about content, such as issues of free speech. Includes an internet monitoring project designed to encourage in-depth analysis in order to place technology policy in their historical evolution and context. Explores the contemporary political and social impacts of the internet and other information technologies. Instructor: Rogerson.

Activism and Christianity in Modern America

An exploration of the relation of Christian belief and practices with agitation for social change, with a focus on the United States from the colonial period to the present. Attention given to how identity, power, and suffering shape historical judgments about the intersection of religion and ethics. Close readings of primary sources drawn from autobiographies, letters, sermons, poems, and treatises. Figures may include John Wesley, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Pauli Murray, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan.

Toleration, Freedom of Conscience, and Religious Liberty

Explores the ideas of toleration, freedom of conscience, and religious liberty through a careful study of philosophers and theologians in the Roman world, where arguments for these concepts first emerged. Also considers the important contributions of early modern political philosophers and discussions by contemporary theorists. Readings may include Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius, St. Augustine, Spinoza, Locke, Rousseau, Roger Williams, Jefferson, Nussbaum, and Forst.


Study of the republican political theory and its historical tradition. Emphasis on key concepts of this tradition, including freedom as non-domination, virtue, the mixed constitution and the common good. Study and comparison of the Roman Republic, English, American, Italian and French republic trends. Readings include Cicero, Machiavelli, Milton, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Arendt and contemporary neo-republican scholarship. Instructor: Rousseliere.

Inequality in Western Political Thought

Study of egalitarian and inegalitarian theories in the history of Western Political Thought. Distinction between forms of inequality (political, economic, social, racial, gender, etc.). Analysis of what kind of equality should be achieved (resources, opportunities, rights, respect, etc.). Connection of equality with other political and moral issues (freedom, responsibility, class conflict, well-being, poverty, exclusion, solidarity, difference, etc.).

Legal Analysis for Development Governance

Using case scenarios, we apply a legal analytical framework to development-related governance challenges in investment, trade, environment, land, community and human rights, health, corruption, corporate social responsibility, consumer literacy, children's legal personality and other sectors. "Rules of the Game" and legal rules. Three levels: international, national (constitutional), community.

Information, Ethics and Policy

The development of the Internet and other technologies as media of communication and the politics, policies and regulations that have emerged both internationally and nationally. The political aspects of the access to information on the Internet and other technologies and the more controversial issue of content.