Admission to this course is restricted to MA students in Philosophy 60 EC, specialisation Philosophical Perspectives on Politics and the Economy.
This is a course on contemporary questions in political philosophy that concern the concepts of power and resistance. We start by looking at the ethics of killing in self-defence. We all have the power to threaten each other’s lives, and we all have a moral right to defend ourselves against such threats. But where exactly should we draw the line? For example, are we morally permitted to kill an Innocent Threat; viz., someone who threatens our life but doesn’t exercise agency at all? We then turn to states to ask similar questions; e.g., what are states morally permitted to do in the face of an imminent threat posed by other states? After this, we ask whether individuals within states have a moral right to resist government officials who act unjustly, which leads us to discuss various theories of political legitimacy and authority. Subsequently, we discuss a number of cases of resisting power; viz., whistleblowing, resisting global injustice and revolutions. Finally, we discuss feminist perspectives on power and an attempt to conceptualise a radical non-resistance politics that promises to offer us an escape from war and capitalism, and from conquest and competition.
The course aims to:
give students a familiarity with central debates in political philosophy that concern the concepts of power and resistance;
acquaint students with key writings on power and resistance.
Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:
- the central debates in political theory about the notions of power and resistance.
Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:
- paraphrase, interpret, reproduce and criticise the use made of the concepts of power and resistance in philosophical writing and in wider political contexts.
Mode of instruction
Class attendance is required.
Mid-term essay (2,500 words)
Final essay (3,000 words)
Attendance is required – without sufficient attendance students will be excluded from submitting a final paper.
The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of the two subtests (midterm essay, final essay):
Mid-term essay: 30%
Final essay: 70%
The resit will consist of a written final essay of 5,500 words (100%). No separate resits will be offered for mid-term or final tests. The mark will replace all previously earned marks for subtests.
Attendance is required – without sufficient attendance students will be excluded from taking the resit.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examinations cannot take the resit.
Inspection and feedback
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.
Mandatory literature (to be purchased)
Brennan, J., (2019), When All Else Fails, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press
Huemer, M., (2014), The Problem of Political Authority, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Further readings will be announced on Brightspace.
Students do not have to study the literature beforehand.
Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website
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