Cecile FABRE, university of oxford/all souls college
B. Phil Class in Political Philosophy, Thursdays, 11–1 Cécile Fabre and Thomas Sinclair
This class is open and restrictedto B.Phil students with an interest in moral, political and legal philosophy. The classes are organised into two broad themes, each to be taught in a bloc of four weeks:
Legitimacy and authority (Tom Sinclair)
Justice (Cécile Fabre)
The class will accordingly be divided into two groups: Group 1 will start with Tom Sinclair, and Group 2 with C. Fabre. The Groups will switch over in week 5.
Students will be required to do the core readings. As a rule of thumb, you should allocate half a day per week to do the required reading. The readings should be used as bases for formulating and defending your own views about the issues and arguments at hand.
In addition to all the readings mentioned here, students are encouraged to consult the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the International Encyclopedia of Ethics (available online from the Bodleian). Beware, however, of merely rehashing the entries, and of dispensing with actually reading the primary sources, when you prepare presentations or write essays. The SEP should be used as a road map only, not as a substitute for proper philosophical work. Other good resources include podcasts on Philosophy Bites, as well as on Political Philosophy Podcasts, which together have over three hundreds of interviews with philosophers on an astonishing range of topics. The podcasts are free to download. Be aware that audio content is subject to plagiarism rules, so do not cite an interviewee without properly referencing the podcast.
IF YOU ARE NEW TO CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY The following books will help you make sense of the discipline:
W. Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy, 2nd edition (Oxford, 2002). The book goes through some of the major ‘schools of thought’ in contemporary analytical political philosophy (liberalism, communitarianism, multiculturalism, libertarianism, feminism).
A. Swift, Political Philosophy: A Beginner’s Guide for Students and Politicians, 3rd edition (Polity, 2013). The book is organised around concepts (justice, liberty, democracy, etc.).
J. Wolff, Introduction to Political Philosophy, 3rd edition (Oxford, 2015). Similar to Swift’s in its approach, though it has more about the state and the justification for authority.
For good advice on how to write in philosophy in general, and political philosophy in particular, you might want to read chapters 2–3 in A. Blau (ed) Methods in Analytical Political Theory (Cambridge, 2017). Chapter 3 in particular—a piece by Kimberley Brownlee and Zofia Stemplowska—looks at the issues raised by the use of hypothetical examples and thought experiments in moral and political philosophy. Two general reading lists which you might find useful are available on the DPIR website (Oxford SSO required): Theory of Politics and Advanced Paper in Theories of Justice.
JUSTICE 1. Egalitarian Justice Key questions What does being equal with others consist in? That we should all have as much ‘stuff’ as one another? That we have enough to live a decent life? Is the levelling down objection a forceful one against egalitarianism?
Core readings P. Casal, ‘Why Sufficiency is Not Enough’, Ethics 117(2) (2007): 296–326. H. Frankfurt, ‘Equality as a Moral Ideal’, Ethics 98 (1987): 21–43.
Further readings E. Anderson, ‘What is the Point of Equality?’, Ethics 109 (1999): 287–337. I. Carter, ‘Respect and the Basis of Equality’, Ethics 121 (2011): 538–571. G. A. Cohen, Rescuing Justice and Equality (Harvard, 2008). G. A. Cohen, ‘On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice’, Ethics 99 (1989): 906–944. R. Dworkin, ‘What is Equality?’, Parts 1 and 2, Philosophy and Public Affairs (1981). ‘Part 1: Equality of Welfare’ Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (1981): 185–246. ‘Part 2: Equality of Resources’ Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (1981): 283–345. A. Mason, Levelling the Playing Field: The Idea of Equal Opportunity and its Place in Egalitarian Thought (Oxford, 2006). J. Wolff, Jonathan, ‘Fairness, Respect, and the Egalitarian Ethos’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 27 (1998): 97–122. I. M. Young ‘Equality of Whom? Social Groups and Judgments of Injustice’, Journal of Political Philosophy 9 (2001): 1–18.
2. Territorial Justice Key questions States as they currently exist are founded on arbitrary territorial foundations – or so some argue, pointing to the ways in which they have come to occupy their present territory. If neither war nor colonial conquests are legitimate bases for territorial rights, how are the latter grounded, if at all?
Core readings A.J. Simmons, Boundaries of Authority (Oxford, 2016), ch. 5. A. Stilz, Territorial Sovereignty – A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford, 2019), ch. 2.
Further readings C. Nine, Global Justice and Territory (Oxford, 2012). A. Kohlers, Land, Conflict, and Justice – A Political Theory of Territory (Cambridge, 2009). T. Meisels, Territorial Rights (Springer, 2005). D. Miller, ‘Territorial Rights: Concept and Justification’, Political Studies 60 (2012): 252–258. M. Moore, A Political Theory of Territory (Oxford, 2015).
3. Justice and Immigration Key questions: is freedom of association a good—the only—justification for closing borders? Is a requirement to open borders a requirement of justice?
Core readings J. Carens, The Ethics of Immigration (OUP 2015), ch. 3. C. H. Wellman ‘Immigration and Freedom of Association’, Ethics 119 (2008): 109–141.
Further readings A. Abizadeh, ‘Democratic Theory and Border Coercion: No Right to Unilaterally Control Your Own Borders’ Political Theory 36 (2008): 37–65. S. Fine, ’Freedom of Association Is Not the Answer’, Ethics 120 (2010): 338–356. S. Fine and L. Ypi (eds) Migration in Political Theory: The Ethics of Movement and Membership (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). D. Miller, Strangers in our Midst (Harvard UP, 2016).
4. Reparative justice Key questions : do we owe reparative duties to those whom we have wronged in the past? What is the content of those duties? Does the passing of time make a difference to the stringency and content of those duties?
Core readings J. Thompson, ‘Historical Injustice and Reparation: Justifying Claims of Descendants’, Ethics 112 (2001): 114–35. J. Waldron, ‘Superseding Historic Injustice’, Ethics 103 (1992): 4–28.
Further readings B. Boxill. ‘A Lockean Argument for Black Reparations.’ The Journal of Ethics 7 (2003): 63–91. D. Butt, Rectifying International Injustice (Oxford, 2009). R. Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, (Basic Books, 1974), pp. 152–153 and 230–231. A. Pasternak, ‘Voluntary Benefits from Wrongdoing’, Journal of Applied Philosophy 31 (2014): 377–391. G. Sher, ‘Ancient Wrongs and Modern Rights.’ Philosophy & Public Affairs 10 (1981): 3–17. G. Sher, ‘Transgenerational Compensation.’ Philosophy & Public Affairs 33, no. 2 (2005): 181–200. A. J. Simmons. ‘Historical Rights and Fair Shares.’ Philosophy & Public Affairs 14 (1995): 149–84.
LEGITIMACY 1. The philosophical anarchist’s challenge Key questions What is political rule? Can it be justified? Is it compatible with individual liberty? Is there a duty to obey the law? What is the difference between a priori and a posteriori anarchism?
Core readings T. Christiano, The Constitution of Equality (Oxford: 2008), pp. 240–3. R. P. Wolff, In Defence of Anarchism (Harper & Row, 1970), Part I. A. J. Simmons, On the Edge of Anarchy (Princeton, 1993), ch. 8.
Further readings N. Kolodny, ‘Political Rule and Its Discontents’, in Sobel, Vallentyne, and Wall (eds.), Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy Volume 2 (Oxford, 2016): 35–70. A. J. Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations (Princeton, 1979). L. Green, The Authority of the State (Oxford, 1988). M. B. E. Smith, ‘Is There a Prima Facie Obligation to Obey the Law?’, in W. A. Edmundson (ed.), The Duty to Obey the Law: Selected Philosophical Readings (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999): 75–105. W. A. Edmundson, Three Anarchical Fallacies: An Essay on Political Authority (Cambridge, 1998). C. Gans, Philosophical Anarchism and Political Disobedience (Cambridge, 1992). M. Taylor, Community, Anarchy, and Liberty (Cambridge, 1982).
2. The statist response Key questions What is the state? What is it for a state to have legitimate authority? Can state power and authority be justified by appeal to natural moral duties?
Core readings M. Weber, ‘The Profession and Vocation of Politics’ in P. Lassman and R. Speirs (ed. and trans.), Max Weber: Political Writing (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 309–11. A. Stilz, Liberal Loyalty (Princeton, 2009), ch. 2. J. Raz, The Morality of Freedom (Oxford, 1986), chs 2–4.
Further readings M. Weber, ‘The Profession and Vocation of Politics’ in P. Lassman and R. Speirs (ed. and trans.), Max Weber: Political Writing (Cambridge, 1994). M. Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–78, trans. A. I. Davidson (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), lectures 4–5. J. Waldron, ‘Special Ties and Natural Duties’, Philosophy & Public Affairs 22 (1993): 3–30. N. Kolodny, ‘Being Under the Power of Others’, in Y. Elizar and G. Rousselière (eds.), Republicanism and the Future of Democracy (Cambridge, 2019). C. H. Wellman, ‘Toward a Liberal Theory of Political Obligation’, Ethics 111 (2001): 735–759. S. Perry, ‘Political Authority and Political Obligation’, in L. Green and B. Leiter (eds.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law Volume 2 (Oxford, 2013): 1–74. B. A. O. Williams, ‘Realism and Moralism in Political Theory’, in In the Beginning was the Deed (Princeton, 2005). P. Pettit, On the People’s Terms (Cambridge, 2012), ch. 3. David Schmidtz, ‘Justifying the State’, Ethics 101 (1990): 89–102. M. Taylor, Community, Anarchy, and Liberty (Cambridge, 1982)
3. Democracy Key questions: Is democracy the only legitimate constitutional form? In what does it essentially consist? What is its value? What does it require?
Core readings D. Viehoff, ‘Democratic Equality and Political Authority’, Philosophy & Public Affairs 42 (2014): 337–375. R. J. Arneson, ‘Democratic rights at national and workplace levels,’’ in D. Copp, J. Hampton, and J. E. Roemer (eds.), The Idea of Democracy (Cambridge, 1993): 118–48.
Further readings A. Guerrero, ‘Against Elections: The Lottocratic Alternative’, Philosophy & Public Affairs 42 (2014): 135–178. T. Christiano, The Constitution of Equality (Oxford: 2008). A. Gutmann and D. Thompson, Why Deliberative Democracy? (Princeton, 2004). C. Mouffe, ‘For an Agonistic Model of Democracy’, in The Democratic Paradox (Verso, 2000). S. Tan, ‘Why Equality and Which Inequalities? A modern Confucian approach to democracy’, Philosophy East and West 66 (2016): 488–514. A. Buchanan, ‘Political Legitimacy and Democracy’, Ethics 112 (2002): 689–719. D. Estlund, Democratic Authority: A Philosophical Framework (Princeton, 2007). J. Shklar, ‘The Liberalism of Fear’, in N. Rosenblum (ed.), Liberalism and the Moral Life (Harvard, 1989). S. Wall, ‘Debate: Democracy, Authority, and Publicity’, The Journal of Political Philosophy vol. 14, no. 1 (2006). P. Pettit, On the People’s Terms (Cambridge, 2012), chs. 4–5.
4. The oppressive state? Key questions Is the state fundamentally unjust or oppressive? Must it be? Is anarchism therefore superior?
Core readings M. Bakunin, ‘Rousseau’s Theory of the State’, in S. Dolgoff (ed.), Bakunin on Anarchism (A. A. Knopff, 1972). C. Mills, The Racial Contract (Cornell, 1997), pp. 19–40, 81–89. F. Block, ‘The Ruling Class Does Not Rule: Notes on the Marxist Theory of the State’, Socialist Revolution 33 (1977): 6–28.
Further readings M. Frye, ‘Oppression’, in T. Ball, R. Dagger, and D. I. O’Neill (eds.), Ideals and Ideologies: A Reader, eleventh edition (Routledge, 2020): 411–420. C. A. MacKinnon, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (Harvard, 1989), ch. 8. A. Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty, and the Making of International Law (Cambridge 2004), pp. 100–114. I. M. Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference (Princeton, 1990), ch. 2. J. Feagin, Systemic Racism: A Theory of Oppression (Routledge, 2006), ch. 1. Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century (Freedom Press, 1923). E. Goldman, ‘Anarchism: What It Really Stands For’, in Anarchism and Other Essays (Floating Press, 2008): 57–81. K. Marx and F. Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848), Part III, sections 2–3. L. Wenar, Blood Oil (Oxford, 2016), Part II.