Contemporary Political Phil
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Division: The New School for Social Research
Course Number: GPHI 6656
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: Yes
Since the seventeenth century, political philosophy has been practiced under the sign of the modern state. From Hobbes to Rawls, philosophers have been concerned with the nature and the limits of the power that a state might legitimately exercise in a specified area. Sometimes, though less often, they have been concerned with the relations between states. Territorial sovereignty has been more often assumed than debated. Central political concepts -- freedom, equality, democracy, power -- have been discussed primarily in terms of the relationships between subjects (citizens) and the state. This model has always had its limits: the capitalist market has created fields of force beyond state borders, and the imperial practices of states have raised issues not easily contained within the dominant paradigm. However, over the past forty or so years (its inadequacy has become blatant. Very few states exercise anything like the powers traditionally associated with sovereignty. State borders are increasingly porous. The relationship between economic and political power is inescapable, but evades theoretical understanding. Traditional models of democracy seem inadequate for the fragmented and yet globalized forms or power at work in the contemporary world. This course will begin with a survey of the changes that have taken place and of the major theoretical approaches that are currently available. It will then focus on a number of issues that are both conceptually and normatively central. These will include: the fragmentation of sovereignty; the possibility of democracy; borders/migration; social equality.
Not open to Undergraduate students.