PHIL 366 - Introduction to Political Philosophy
Fall 2019, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
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Requirements & Distribution:
Enforced Prerequisites:
One Philosophy course or PPE 300; with at least C-.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Hobbes and Locke argued that a social contract in which individuals consent to be ruled for the preservation of their rights establishes the legitimacy of political authority. One of the powers reserved for political authority is the right to punish by incarceration and execution. Some Enlightenment philosophers such as Beccaria condemned the death penalty and argued that punishment should increase human happiness. Bentham also applied utilitarian reasoning to argue against the death penalty which put him at odds with both Kant and Hegel’s retributivist defenses of punishment. Other philosophers such as Montesquieu appealed to both utilitarian and retributivist ideas in his thoughts on punishment while Diderot stressed the importance of understanding the roots of criminality and avoiding unequal application of the laws. We will examine how past and present philosophers have justified punishment as well as their positions on capital punishment. We will also read works arguing that racial oppression, the subordination of women, and neglect of the poor vitiates the state’s right to punish and raises serious concerns about capital punishment. If you are curious about philosophical justifications of punishment, arguments for and against the death penalty, and want to examine whether punishment is justified in societies where it is administered in biased ways or where the state is not respecting human rights, this is a must take class.


PHIL 366 - Introduction to Political Philosophy
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 12:00PM - 1:00PM
002 (DIS)
 In Person
MW 1:00PM - 2:00PM
003 (DIS)
 In Person
MW 4:00PM - 5:00PM

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