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Politics and Economy: Philosophical Foundations


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to students enrolled in the MA Philosophy 60 EC, specialisation Philosophy, Politics and Economics.


A course on key concepts and ideas in the philosophical reflection on politics and the economy. These include very general concepts used in attributing mental states, like belief, knowledge and intention, as well as other explanatory ideas such as those of causation, covering laws, rationality, and motivation. It will be shown that these concepts have a history and have ideological as well as scientific uses.

Course objectives

This course aims to give students a thorough grounding in the core concepts and methods used in the philosophy of political economy and related disicplines. Students will learn to use, but also to examine critically, such fundamental ideas as those of normativity, social explanation and causation, knowledge and science, ideology, anthropocentrism and other forms of perspective-based heuristics, nomothetic generalisation, critical theory, constructivism and individual and corporate agency. They will be encouraged to compare, contextualise and evaluate these ideas in terms of their role in current political and economic thinking.

By the end of the course, students will be able to discuss authoritatively key formative ideas in the philosophy of political science, political economy and related disciplines. They will be conversant with the ideas of a range of major social, economic, political and philosophical theories and thinkers, aware of the conditions in which these ideas emerged, grasp difficulties in applying them, and be able to use them critically in argument.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • understand some core concepts used in the philosophical reflection on politics and the economy, to deploy them in argument with appropriate real-world examples, and appraise them critically with reference to ancillary ideas such as those of science, objectivity, interpretation, normativity, rationality, historicity and agent-relativity;

  • display a knowledge of the history of these concepts, and their responsiveness to wider technical, political and cultural change;

  • distinguish ideological and analytical appraisals of these concepts.


The timetable is available on the MA Philosophy website

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load (10 EC x 28 hrs): 280 hours

  • Attending lectures and seminars: 14 × 3 = 42 hours

  • Preparation classes and studying literature: 14 × 10 = 140 hours

  • Preparation mid-term essay: 40 hours

  • Preparation of class presentation: 18 hours

  • Preparation of final essay: 40 hours

Assessment method

  • Mid-term essay of 2,000 words (40%)

  • Final essay of 2,500 words (40%)

  • Continuous assessment of class performance (20%)


The final grade for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests (midterm, final test). A subtest can be graded as unsatisfactory.


One resit will be offered, covering the entire course content, and consisting of an essay. The grade will replace previously earned grades for subtests. No separate resits will be offered for mid-term or final tests. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • advertising readings;

  • exchanging information and readings, including links;

  • uploading other relevant material.

Reading list

To be announced.


Enrolment for courses and exams through uSis is mandatory.

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. J.P. Beetz


Not applicable.