Post-Election Changes To Philosophy Curriculum By Subject: Political Philosophy


Last week we began soliciting suggestions for reading materials and lessons for various philosophical subfields in light of Donald Trump’s victory in the recent election. So far, we have threads running on epistemology, philosophy of language, and critical reasoning / informal logic. Today we’ll continue the series by asking for suggestions for political philosophy.

Here are a few do’s and dont’s:

Do:
– provide suggestions for reading materials and lessons you think might make useful additions to courses in political philosophy.
– say a little bit about why you’re suggesting what you’re suggesting.
– feel free to ask for recommendations on specific topics within political philosophy.

Don’t:
– ask whether we would be having this conversation if Clinton had won the election.
– assume that contributors to this post think that making changes to their philosophy courses is a panacea for society’s ills.
– write as if contributors to this thread are unconcerned with the thoughts and welfare of those who voted for Trump.

Here is some further advice, from a comment on an earlier post:

Before commenting on a thread that asks for suggestions for X, ask yourself whether you are making a suggestion for X. If the answer is “yes,” go right on ahead. If the answer is “no,” ask yourself, “is it important that I say what I’m thinking of saying right here?” Think about it for a few minutes. Take your time. And then, if you really think the answer to this second question is “yes,” then, still, don’t make the comment. Seriously, don’t. Thanks.

Lastly, thank you to those who have been contributing suggestions. There are many readers who are finding these posts helpful.

Liu Wei, "Library II-II"

Liu Wei, “Library II-II”

guest
11 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Henry
Henry
4 years ago

Watch and discuss “Requiem for the American Dream” .Report

Henry
Henry
4 years ago

2nd Suggestion:

DeLissovoy, N. (2014). The Turn to Punishment: Race, Domination, and the Neoliberal Era. In Capital at the Brink. Overcoming the destructive legacies of neoliberalism (pp. 72–95). Open Humanities Press. https://doi.org/10.3998/ohp.12832551.0001.001

There are good discussions about surveillance, race, consent, power, neoliberalism, etc.Report

GS
GS
4 years ago

Against Democracy, Brennan
After Virtue, MacintyreReport

JWF
JWF
4 years ago

In addition to what I take to be the big three of liberal theory (Locke, Rousseau, and Mill), we should try to make an effort to discuss themes from classical republicanism. These include the defense of constitutional government, a concern for political psychology and sociology, and a keen interest in understanding and preventing the general corruption of society. I have in mind especially the work of Montesquieu and Machiavelli, such as the Persian Letters and the Prince (at least in the way Spinoza and Rousseau read the Prince). The general concern is to design democratic institutions as a bulwark against autocracy, including demagoguery. Instead of getting wrapped up in a silly debate about ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ liberty, I believe it is best to understand these ideas as complementary to the liberal tradition. There is a different emphasis, but one that is more relevant now than ever.

Of course, Rousseau is also a republican, and these themes are also present in the main thinkers of liberal tradition and in ancient politics. This is obviously a suggestion for an historically oriented course.Report

Alex Sager
4 years ago

The Trump syllabus 2.0 offers many resources (many not strictly political philosophy, but useful for any informed discussion): http://www.publicbooks.org/feature/trump-syllabus-20

Some personal highlights (related to my interests): the selections from W.E.B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglas, Ngai’s Impossible Subjects, Santa Ana’s Brown Tide Rising

I suspect Giovanni Gentile’s Origins and Doctrine of Fascism (1929) would make for a useful discussion.

Many people think this is exaggerated, but I started working my way through Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism this week.Report

Michel X.
Michel X.
4 years ago

Here in Canada, it seems pretty common for introductory courses in social and political philosophy (or contemporary topics in ethics) to include units on multiculturalism. I don’t know how common such modules are in the US, but I think that the national conversation has shifted enough for it to have become a really interesting and fruitful issue for students to tackle.

Some good sample papers (or book extracts) to assign are Karen Smits’s “Are minority cultures entitled to recognition and rights?’”, Will Kymlicka’s “Justice and minority rights”, Susan Moller Okin’s “Feminism and multiculturalism: some tensions”, Chandran Kukathas’s “Are there any cultural rights?”, Charles Taylor’s “The Politics of Recognition”, Veit Bader’s “The Ethics of Immigration”, and Paula Casal’s “Is multiculturalism bad for animals?”. Report

mhl
mhl
4 years ago

I would suggest beefing up the analytical political science work, which draws on the impossibility of aggregating diverse preferences, and the instability of various equilibria. (e.g., Richard McKelvey)Report

Triggerfish
Triggerfish
4 years ago

Strongly second Susan Okin’s excellent “Feminism and multiculturalism: some tensions”. It would also be good to see the African American scholar Thomas Sowell represented here. No matter your political views, his work would be immensely stimulating for promoting discussion with students on a host of vital issues. His book “Intellectuals and Race” comes to mind as especially timely. I would also enter a vote for Heather Mac Donald’s “The War on Cops” as a well-reasearched counterpoint to books like “The New Jim Crow”. Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
4 years ago

We need to teach, critique, and engage with modern conservative political theory. We need to get conservatives into the classroom and we need to get our liberal students to better understand conservatives. Too often in politics classes, we seem to get tied up in arguments between liberals, cutting ourselves out of the big national conversations. We need to engage with America and the world. What we must not do is recoil in disgust from recent political developments and retreat further into our shell, preaching to the converted and debating the details of liberal theory with people who already fundamentally agree with us.Report

Grad
Grad
4 years ago

I’ve found myself continually frustrated with the narrowness of the course offerings in analytic political philosophy (at least here in Canada). The title of almost every course I’ve taken in political philosophy has the word ‘liberal’ in it somewhere – and if not in the title the course has still been heavily focused on liberal theory. Liberal theory, liberalism and cosmopolitanism, dignity and human rights, liberal egalitarianism, etc. This is spread over several degrees and different universities so it isn’t the result of just being in a university with a prominent liberal scholar. On the syllabi, debates mostly remain within liberal theory and if a critique of liberalism is included it comes from a conservative viewpoint. I’ve never had the chance to take a class on Marx, socialist theory, anarchist theory, or even see critiques from those perspectives included in the readings. So even though my own political perspective leans more towards socialist and anarchist viewpoints if I want to critique the assumptions of liberalism, it is easier to draw from conservative philosophy since I have been given so little direction on leftist philosophical view points. So I would implore political philosophers, especially liberally minded ones to at least include some more radically leaning philosophy on their syllabus. If you think it’s ridiculous you can tell your class why, but as it stands, liberal philosophy (at least in the classroom) rarely has to defend its own framework. This bubble isn’t all that different from the bubble that was shocked when Clinton didn’t win. And in our new political climate it is disservice to the students if they only understand debates within the framework instead of also knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the framework itself.Report

Preston Stovall
4 years ago

I don’t teach political philosophy, but I have a question for those who are suggesting changes to the curriculum meant to address the growing divide between the right and the left in this country (perhaps better: non-urban traditionalists and urban globalists). Does it make sense to go over the work and influence of someone like Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi? He was something like a progenitor of the ‘unified Europe’ movement, and some on the right point to his work on race and immigration as a defining element of what they see as the worldview of their political enemies:

http://balder.org/judea/Richard-Coudenhove-Kalergi-Practical-Idealism-Vienna-1925.php

It doesn’t help that Angela Merkel received a prize from Coundenhove-Kalergi’s society, awarded for contributions to a unified Europe, in 2010. (I hope we can agree that linking to a blog, or pointing out how a viewpoint has developed, does not entail endorsing either the blog’s content or the viewpoint).

Given the influence this sort of narrative has apparently been having on the right, it might be good to bring it out into the open and put it to criticism. This seems particularly the case if, as I understand it, the interventions proposed in these discussion threads are meant to address the post-election political situation. So, would a lecture or two spent in discussion of Kalergi’s views on European political identity, and their uptake and interpretation by the right, be worthwhile?

Harboring an interest in public policy and international affairs, I would consider doing a little bit on this general idea of European national and racial unification if I was teaching a course that included a component on realpolitik. During Robert Gates’ time as Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon produced some revealing outlines for the U.S. military’s plans for dealing with local and global problems of mass immigration caused by war, natural disaster, poverty, famine, etc. This was well before we faced the economic downturn in 2008 and the collapse of middle eastern regimes over the last few years, and I find it hard to believe that other countries weren’t paying attention to what we were worried about and developing contingency plans of their own. Some of those Pentagon reports, and the discussion surrounding them, would provide another point of orientation for the realpolitician’s view on contemporary events. Report