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Political Philosophy

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Compulsory course
4 year, 3 module


Course Syllabus


Given the partisanship of the contemporary schools of political theory, the course focuses on fundamental philosophical problems rather than specific theories and names. Political philosophy is understood as the only fundamentally meaningful way to change human reality. The two following ways of change are contrasted throughout the course: the radical way of change with purpose of creating a new form of life, which is typical for the “continental” political philosophy, and the incremental way of change with purpose of consistent and sustainable improvement of an existing political community, which is typical for “analytic” or “normative” political philosophy. Neither way has priority by default, the choice of change being dependent on the purpose of change. Therefore, the first task of political philosophy is a meaningful basic orientation within the political reality. Starting from the basics, such as meaningful usage of human speech and agency, the course proceeds through analysis of such concepts as the good, justice, freedom, law, community, friendship, citizenship, democracy, power, to discussions of actual real-life issues of the contemporary political landscapes.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Students will learn the contemporary political philosophy, with purpose of getting meaningful philosophical orientation within the political reality.
  • Development of the independent moral and political judgement, as well as engagement with visual and textual sources will be emphasized.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • To master the key ideas, concepts and methods of the contemporary political philosophy.
  • To develop logical skills allowing to discuss and to solve moral dilemmas and political problems.
  • To use the introduced concepts and methods to present a solution in a written essay.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction. What is political philosophy?
    Elements of the classical political philosophy. Key notions: the good, justice, friendship etc. The main problem of the classical political philosophy. Plato’s and Aristotle’s solutions. Difference b/w the Ancient Greek and the Ancient Roman political life. Difference b/w the classical and the (Post-)Modern political philosophy. Seminar: What do we want in life? What is good for me/us? What is good for everyone? Do we want the same in life? What is difference b/w humans and other animals? What is human speech?
  • Two competing tendencies in the Modern political philosophy
    Two competing tendencies in the Modern political philosophy and two main schools (“Normative” vs. “Continental”) of contemporary political philosophy. Seminar: What is more important, power or security, social justice or human emancipation? Are we the same? Are humans equal?
  • Basics of the Normative Political Philosophy
    Human consciousness, human agency, rationality, reasonability. The concept of common language. Foundations of common language. Free Will. Moral community. Seminar: How to come to an agreement? What is the point of compromise?
  • Basics of the Continental political philosophy
    The concept of “political”. Political Subject. Friend-enemy distinction. Possibilities of being (non)-human. Criticism of rationality. Varieties of political languages. Arendt’s theory of political action. Sources of self-knowledge: (false) consciousness, ideology, myth, psychoanalysis. The concept of proper language. Seminar: Who are my friends and my enemies?
  • Advanced topics in the Normative Political Philosophy
    Natural condition vs. Social contract. Dual structure of political life: Individuals vs. State. Deontology. Consequentialism. Contractualism. The Rule of Law. Constitutionalism. Normal political process. Elements of the game theory. Seminar: What is the purpose of the state? How to legitimate political authority?
  • Advanced topics in the Continental Political Philosophy
    Political Aesthetics. Active and reactive forces. The concept, lifecycle, inner layers of political movement. Sympathizers, radicals (partisans), Führer. Subversion, revolution, sovereignty. Subversive and sovereign speech. Political creativity. Political theology. Utopia and reality. Seminar: What does it take to create a new form of life?
  • Comparison 1: Freedom (liberty)
    Negative, positive, political freedom. Principles of freedom. Metaphors of freedom. Measurements of freedom. Anomalous freedom. Seminar: What does it mean to be free?
  • Comparison 2: Justice
    What is justice? What is equality? Principles of justice. Human rights. Social and political justice. Sovereignty vs. mixed constitution. Non-normative accounts justice. Seminar: What is the meaning of justice?
  • Comparison 3: What is democracy?
    Democracy vs. republicanism; democracy vs. liberalism; democracy vs. political representation. Seminar: Democracy for whom? Democracy for me & my friends vs. democracy for everyone
  • Comparison 4: Power
    State power. Institutionalism. Empire of laws. Power-Knowledge. Classical and Modern kinds of power: Sovereign, disciplinary, biopolitical power. Revolutionary power. Truth-force. Seminar: Security, territory, population.
  • Inside Normative Political Philosophy
    Liberalism (Bentam, Mill, Berlin, Rawls) vs. republicanism (Pettit, Skinner) vs. libertarianism (Nozik) vs. communitarianism (Walzer, Taylor, Sandel). Challenges to Normative PPh. Seminar: What is political community? What is the common good?
  • Inside Continental Political Philosophy
    Left/right distinction. Critique vs. revolution, subversive vs. sovereign politics. Positive vs. negative definition of political subjectivity. The New Left. Hegemony. Communist hypothesis. Accelerationism. Challenges to Continental PPh. Seminar: State, movement, people. The New Left.
  • Current political issues and problems
    Current political issues and problems. Russian specifics. Seminar: Discussion.
  • Course conclusion
    Course conclusion. What is the meaning of political life? Seminar: How to get oriented in the political reality?
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Essay
  • non-blocking Seminar activity
    Attendance is graded with respect to formal leave of absence. Activity is graded solely on the basis of in-class participation (answers, comments etc.).
  • non-blocking Final Exam
    This is an oral exam, including three questions to answer from a given list. See attachment for sample questions.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.25 * Essay + 0.5 * Final Exam + 0.25 * Seminar activity


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Arendt, H. (1973). The Origins of Totalitarianism. [Place of publication not identified]: Mariner Books. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1871784
  • Aristotle. (2013). Politics. New York: Sheba Blake Publishing. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1023929
  • Bell, D. (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy. Political Studies Review, 12(1), 94–95. https://doi.org/10.1111/1478-9302.12041_11
  • Berlin, I., & Hardy, H. (2014). Freedom and Its Betrayal : Six Enemies of Human Liberty - Updated Edition (Vol. Second edition). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=710132
  • Bogumil Terminski. (2012). George Klosko (ed.), The Oxford Hanbook of the History of Political Philosophy, Oxford University Press, Oxford-New York, 2011, 864 pp. Revista Europea de Historia de Las Ideas Políticas y de Las Instituciones Públicas, (3). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.erv.rehipi.y2012i313
  • Duncan Bell. (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy by David Estlund (ed.). Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2012 . 446pp., £95.00, ISBN 9780195376692 The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy by George Klosko (ed.). Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2012 . 840pp., £85.00, ISBN 9780199238804. Political Studies Review, (1), 94. https://doi.org/10.1111/1478-9302.12041_11
  • M. F. (2011). The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy. Contemporary Review, 293(1703), 537. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=f5h&AN=70640484
  • Mouffe, C. (2012). Deliberative democracy or agonistic pluralism. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.59110595
  • Nozick, R. (2013). Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Basic Books. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=677086
  • Pettit, P. (2015). On the People’s Terms. Australia, Australia/Oceania: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.3734F92E
  • Pettit, P. (2015). The instability of freedom as noninterference: The case of isaiah berlin. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.BF54A300
  • Plato, & Hiperlink (Firm). (2014). The Republic Plato. İstanbul: Hiperlink. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=785891
  • Rawls, J. (DE-588)118598678, (DE-576)209078766. (1999). A theory of justice / John Rawls. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.08199320X

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Mascaretti, G., & Foucault, M. (2018). The Analytic Philosophy of Politics. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.D3B8335A
  • Pettit, P. (2019). Neo-Liberalism and Neo-Republicanism. Korea Observer, 50(2), 191–206. https://doi.org/10.29152/KOIKS.2019.50.2.191
  • Philip Pettit. (2016). A Brief History of Liberty—And Its Lessons. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, (1), 5. https://doi.org/10.1080/19452829.2015.1127502
  • Philip Pettit. (2016). The Globalized Republican Ideal. Global Justice: Theory, Practice, Rhetoric, (1). https://doi.org/10.21248/gjn.9.1.101