Fall 2017

Format alternates between lecture (L) (with questions and answers!), “workshops” (W) where we collectively try to construct some argument in the reading, and critical discussion (D) of the issues.

See the bottom of the page for assignments, and notice you have to do three out of homeworks nos. 1-8. You can download the class syllabus here. The schedule on this page is more up-to-date.


Tuesday, Sept 5th Introduction [recap]
Thursday, Sept 7th Utilitarianism (L) [recap]
Tuesday, Sept 12th Libertarianism (L) [recap]
  • Nozick, Robert, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, pp. 3-6,
  • pp. 10-12,
  • pp. 26-35,
  • and pp. 48-51
Thursday, Sept 14th (continued) (L, W) [recap]
Tuesday, Sept 19th (continued) (D) [recap] homework no. 1 due
Thursday, Sept 21st Justice as fairness (Rawls) (L) [recap]
  • Rawls, John, A Theory of Justice, §§1-4
  • and 9
Tuesday, Sept 26th (continued, the two principles of justice) (L, W)
  • Rawls, John, A Theory of Justice, §§11-17
homework no. 2 due
Thursday, Sept 28h (continued) (D) [recap for the week]
Tuesday, October 3rd (continued, from the original position to the two principles) (W)
  • Rawls, John, A Theory of Justice, §§20-26
homework no. 3 due
Thursday, October 5th (continued) (W) [recap for the week]
Tuesday, October 10th Libertarian responses to Rawls (W) homework no. 4 due
Thursday, October 12th (continued) (D) [recap for the week]
Tuesday, October 17th Midterm exam
Thursday, October 19th Global or national justice? (D) [preview]
Tuesday, October 24th Liberal neutrality and basic income (L) [recap]
Thursday, October 26th (continued, universal basic income) (W) [recap]
Tuesday, October 31st (continued, prices and opportunities) (D) [recap] homework no. 5 due
Tuesday, November 7th (continued, dealing with the surfers, taxing the rents) (L) [recap] homework no. 6 due
Thursday, November 9th (continued) (L, D) [recap]
Tuesday, November 14th (3:00-5:15pm) Why democracy? (L, D) [recap] draft paper due (at the usual upload link)
Thursday, November 16th (3:00-5:15pm) Why not democracy? (W, D) [recap] Three group readings:
Tuesday, November 21st Two responses: more and less political participation (L, D) [recap] peer comments due (at the usual upload link) homework no. 7 due
Thursday, November 23rd Dualist democracy? (W, D) [recap]
  • Ackerman, Bruce, We, the People, Vol. 1: Foundations, pp. 6-16
  • and II, 11, “Why Dualism?”, pp. 295-322
  • (Optional) Rawls, John, Political Liberalism, pp. 133-158
extra-credit response paper due (at the usual upload link)
Tuesday, November 28th Lottocracy? (W, D) [recap] homework no. 8 due
Thursday, November 30th Group rights? (L, W)
Tuesday, December 5th continued (W, D) [group rights recap] final paper due (at the usual upload link)
Thursday, December 7th Review session
Tuesday, December 12th Final exam

Assessment components

  • A midterm exam on October 17th (20% of the final grade).
  • A final exam on December 12th or 14th (20%).
  • Three 500-word homework papers (out of eight choices), with at least one before and one after the midterm (10% each).
  • A 2000-word final paper (due November 30th), where you will critically assess an argument we saw in the readings and lectures. Papers should introduce the argument, raise a strong objection to it, and assess the upshot, either answering the objection, or explaining why you think the objection successfully undermines the original argument (20%).

Participation in class discussion makes up the ten remaining percent of the final grade.