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Module descriptions

7AAN2082 Political Philosophy II: Special Topics


Credit value: 20
Module tutor: Dr Andrea Sangiovanni

  • Formative assessment: one x 2,000 word essay
  • Summative assessment: one x 4,000-word essay
Teaching pattern: one weekly one-hour lecture and one weekly one-hour seminar
Prerequisites: Students who lack a prior background in the field would do well to consider approaching this module via 7AAN2081 Political Philosophy in the first semester, or at least via (the Political Philosophy section of) 7AAN4021 General Philosophy.
Sample syllabus:

Additional information: The initial lecture hour will be shared with students taking 6AANA046 Topics in Political Philosophy, but they will otherwise be subject to different requirements.

In what sense, if any, are we one another’s moral equals? Why should all persons’ moral claims have the same weight in our deliberations about what to do? What role do the concepts of respect, dignity, shame, and cruelty play in grounding claims to moral equality? In virtue of what properties ought we to treat all and only human beings as members in equal standing of the moral community? What about human beings that are not persons? And what about nonhuman but sentient beings? How has the idea of moral equality gained currency in the West? How has the idea of moral equality figured in the genesis and justification of human rights? This module will try to answer these questions from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Topics include: utilitarianism and sentience, Kant and respect, Christian and Roman conceptions of dignity, Roman and early-modern discussions of cruelty, the history and justification of human and natural rights.

NB: The reading list is demanding, expecting students to read up to 80 pages a week. Students are also expected to engage a range of the primary and secondary readings in their exam.

Module Aims

The module will be aimed at students’ gaining critical understanding of some of the central topics in political philosophy, via a close reading and discussion of key contemporary and historical texts.

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the module will have read closely and gained an understanding of contemporary and historical texts on moral equality; understood the main positions within a range of central topics in contemporary political philosophy; be able to summarize arguments in a wide range of areas and understand what problems the arguments were intended to address; be able to support and challenge views and positions by constructing arguments and citing relevant considerations; and have formed philosophical views of their own which they are prepared to defend or amend in the light of criticism.

Past Syllabi

7AAN2082 module syllabus 2012-13 (pdf)
7AAN2082 module syllabus 2014-15 (pdf)

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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