PHIL 442 - Topics in Political Philosophy
Section: 001 Democracy
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
Waitlist Capacity:
Enforced Prerequisites:
PHIL 361, 366, 367, or PPE 300 (completed with a minimum grade of C- or better); OR Graduate standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Racism, sexism, xenophobia, and Donald Trump’s victory have caused some people—mainly on the political Left—to question the value of democracy, which raises interesting questions: What happens when democracy does not deliver what we want? And what should we do about it? One response is to get better organized politically, cultivate candidates that can win, and hope for better luck next time. A more radical response calls for rejecting a fundamental democratic principle, “one person, one vote,” in favor of a system in which only “knowledgeable” citizens have the right to vote.

We will evaluate this controversial proposal paying special attention to two concerns. Empirical research shows that it may not matter who votes, as people—the knowledgeable as well as the ignorant—generally vote based on their distinctive social identities and partisan interests and not based on the issues (or facts). And history shows that there is no guarantee that “knowledgeable” voters will be sufficiently attuned to, or moved by, the interests of those who feel that they have been excluded from the promises of democracy, which includes historically subordinated racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants who feel like strangers in our midst, as well as whites who feel like strangers in their own land.

So what can we do to save democracy? Reading work by John Dewey and others we will consider the role that education can play in restoring confidence in democracy by fostering a sense of shared fate, common struggle, and cultivating individual responsiveness to marginalized groups with histories of systemic subordination.

PHIL 442 - Topics in Political Philosophy
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
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