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Political Judgement


Admission requirements

This is an advanced course. MA students from other departments must have a background in at least the following subjects: hstory of political philosophy, introduction to contemporary philosophy, and ethics.


Judgements appear to constitute the texture of political life, from the voting boot and day-to-day legislative practice to the heated dynamics of revolutionary moments. But how exactly should we understand political judgement? What is it we do when we judge politically, and how can we do it well? Is judgement in politics a matter of getting our moral principles right and applying them correctly? Or is there a distinctively political form of judgement, as distinct from moral and legal judgement? If so, what exactly does it involve? And what does it imply about the aims and prospects of political philosophy?

These are the sorts of questions we will study in this course. Historically speaking, many political thinkers have had a deep interest in the concept of judgement. More recently, the notion has come to the forefront in a number of debates in political theory, concerning e.g. democracy, political legitimacy, and the relation between political philosophy and ethics.

The course will have the form of a research seminar in which we will study a selection of historical and contemporary philosophical texts. Students are expected to actively participate, give presentations in which they critically engage with the literature, and write a final research paper. A background in political philosophy and ethics is presupposed.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2013-2014 , MA Philosophy 60 EC en 120 EC.
See Timetables Philosophy 2013-2014 , Timetables MA Philosophy 60 EC/120 EC.

Mode of instruction


Course load

Class attendance: 42 hrs
Reading: 119 hrs
Assignments and paper: 119 hrs
Total course load: 280 hrs

Assessment method

  • Participation and class presentation (20%)

  • Short paper (30%)

  • Final paper (50%)


Blackboard will be used for keeping up to date with various aspects of the course.

Reading list

To be announced.


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens
See Registration for courses and examinations

Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply. See also Registration for courses and examinations

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact information

Dr. T. Fossen