Lectures on Political Philosophy
Rome July 6, 9, 10, 2018
In this series of lectures, we will discuss some basic ideas and works of political philosophy centering around the work of John Rawls. The idea is to examine and explore the fundamental arguments for different ways of thinking about the nature of social justice. We will start with an examination of utilitarianism in the work of John Harsanyi and John Stuart Mill. We will be looking at the basic structure of the idea of utilitarianism and the underlying arguments in its favor. We will then examine Rawls’s criticism of utilitarianism and his proposed alternative foundation for political philosophy in contractarianism. We will discuss his basic approach and the structure of the argument Rawls gives for the two principles of justice. And here we will attend in part to why Rawls does not think that his view leads to utilitarianism. We will explore the alternative approach to social justice defended by Robert Nozick and why he thinks it might be superior to that of Rawls. We will discuss Rawls’s response to Nozick. Then we will look at a variety of egalitarian criticisms of Rawls from Amartya Sen, Richard Arneson and G. A. Cohen.
Selections from John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism Chaps II And IV; John Harsanyi, “Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility,” Journal of Political Economy (Aug. 1955) and John Rawls, A Theory of Justice Part I and “Social Unity and Primary Goods,” in Utilitarianism and Beyond ed. Sen and Williams.
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, selections from Part I and III.
Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia selections from chaps 3 and 7; and John Rawls, Political Liberalism, selections from Lecture VII.
G. A. Cohen, Rescuing Justice and Equality selections from Part I.
Organizers: Andrea Attar and Lorenzo Carbonari
July 6: Room S6 - 10.30 am - 1 pm
July 9: Room S6 - 10.30 am - 1 pm
July 10: Room S6 - 10.30 am - 1 pm and 2.30 pm - 5 pm