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Contemporary Political Philosophy



Political philosophers try to answer the question how political communities ought to be organized. To that end, they attempt to identify the different goals that political communities pursue or should pursue, such as security, justice, liberty, and happiness. They try to determine how these goals relate to each other, for example whether they can be pursued simultaneously or whether they conflict. Finally, they make suggestions for the institutional organization of states and other forms of political organization.
Through the course of these lectures, taking a number of foundational values of liberal democracy as our guide, students will first be introduced to the key concepts, theories, and debates in contemporary political philosophy. Subsequently, we will investigate the applicability of these theories and concepts to contemporary debates about global issues, concerning for example migration and climate change.

Course Objectives

The student that has successfully completed the course has knowledge of:

  • a number of concepts and issues that are central to contemporary (Anglo-American) political philosophy, such as social justice, liberty, equality, community, and democracy;

  • the most important theoretical contributions to contemporary political philosophical debates, including liberalism, communitarianism, libertarianism, and liberal egalitarianism;

  • the application of these theories to international questions concerning, inter alia, self-determination, migration, and global justice.

Mode of Instruction


Reading List

Swift, A. 2014. Political Philosophy: A beginners’ guide for politicians and students. 3rd edition. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Fabre, C. 2007. Justice in a changing world. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Assessment Method

Written exam.

The time and location of inspection and debriefing of the exam will be announced via Blackboard no later than the publication of the grades.


See general info on tab 'Year 2'

Timetable courses and exams