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Freedom or Equality?


Admission requirements

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 in analytical political philosophy on the political values of freedom and equality. It deals mainly with modern-day discussion of these values, supported from time to time by an examination of classic discussions of these questions by, among others, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Hobbes. It considers not only the values individually but their relation to one another and how far they are conflicting or incommensurable.

Course objectives

This course aims to:

  • give students a familiarity with the concepts of freedom and equality, and their embedding in different political theories as core values and as principles guiding political action;

  • acquaint students with key writings on freedom and equality, including but not limited to the treatment of these values by modern political philosophers.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the concepts of freedom and equality.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • paraphrase, interpret, reproduce and criticise the use made of freedom and equality in philosophical writing and in wider political contexts;

  • 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 and their politically contentious interrelation.


See: MA Philosophy 60 EC

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

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

  • Attending lectures and seminars (13 × 3 hours): 39 hours

  • Preparation of classes and study of literature: 146 hours

  • Preparation of mid-term essay: 45 hours

  • Preparation of final essay: 50 hours

Assessment method

  • Mid-term essay of 2,000 words

  • Final essay of 2,500 words


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests

  • Mid-term essay (40%)

  • Final essay (60%)


One resit will be offered, covering the entire course content and consisting of an essay. The grade will replace previously earned grades for subtests. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the course cannot take the resit.

Exam review

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.


Blackboard will be used:

  • to give readings for subsequent seminars

  • to exchange information and ideas regarding the course material

  • to circulate materials relevant to the course.

Reading list

  • Will Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy 2nd edn. (Oxford 2002).

  • Jerry Gaus, Political Concepts and Political Theories (Westview 2000).


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

Not applicable.


Dr. W.F. Kalf


Not applicable.