Political theory (s) (2007/2008)

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Course code
Name of lecturers
Olivia Guaraldo, Adriana Cavarero
Olivia Guaraldo
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre dal Feb 18, 2008 al May 31, 2008.

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

The course aims to offer to the students a wider perspective on some contemporary political theory issues which play a major role within the Anglo-american debate.


The course will be divided in two parts, each held by different lecturers:

Part 1
Lecturers: Dr. Janice Richardson, Professor Adriana Cavarero

Feminist Theory between Politics and Law
The course will focus upon the work of four contemporary feminist theorists: Drucilla Cornell, Jean Hampton, Carole Pateman and Christine Battersby, to draw out the implications of their work with regard to their conceptions of consent, agency, politics and law. This is intimately related to their images of what it is to be a self and the relationship between self and other. Drucilla Cornell, argues for legal rights for women based upon the Kantian question of what free and equal persons would agree to – a move that is contrasted with that of Irigaray’s view of law in week one. In week two, Jean Hampton’s contractarian arguments, derived from Hobbes and Kant, are considered and compared with that of Cornell. In week three, we will contrast this position with Pateman’s critique of contractarianism and her arguments in favour of participative democracy. In week four, discussion will be focused upon Christine Battersby’s radical rereading of Kant and the implications of her work for law.

I will photocopy a suitably sized reader and forward reading material:
C. Battersby, “Stages on Kant’s Way: Aesthetics, Morality, and the Gendered Sublime,” Feminism and Tradition in Aesthetics (1995): 88-114.
D. Cornell, The Imaginary Domain: Abortion, Pornography and Sexual Harassment (Routledge, 1995) chapter 1.
J. Hampton, The Intrinsic Worth of Persons: Contractarianism in Moral and Political Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2006) chapter 1.
C. Pateman, “Self-Ownership and Property in the Person: Democratization and a Tale of Two Concepts,” The Journal of Political Philosophy 10, no. 1 (2002): 20-53.

Part 2
Lecturers: Dr. Lee Salter, Dr. Olivia Guaraldo

Four Perspectives on Consent, Agency, and Politics.
In this part of the course, we will consider how political philosophers have considered the relation of consent and agency to politics. We will consider this issue from four perspectives (themselves within an Anglo-American context) of political thought – what we might call, conservatism, liberalism, socialism and multiculturalism. In the first week, we will consider Michael Oakeshott’s argument against `rationalism’ in politics. We will consider how he views agency and consent, especially in relation to `tradition’. Next, we will contemplate John Rawls’s `political liberalism’, and how he assigns autonomous agency to the individual, at the cost of considering cultural context. In the third week we will consider the socialist critique of capitalist and bureaucratic state power by engaging Alasdair Macintyre’s critique of the `compartmentalisation’ of agents. We will also consider the role of group agents (as opposed to individual agents), such as trade unions and social movements. Finally we will consider the future of the political subject under multiculturalism, especially the implications of `difference’ for political consent. We will also consider the issue of political agency within the context of subcultures and their relation to dominant groups.

Oakeshott, M. (1991) `Rationalism in Politics’ in Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays Indianapolis: Liberty Fund Inc.
Rawls, J. (1993) Political Liberalism pp. 1-35 New York: Columbia University Press.
MacIntyre, A. `Politics, Philisophy and the Common Good’ in Knight, K. The Macintyre Reader. London: Polity
Gilroy, P (1987) `There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack’: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation. London: Hutchinson. Chapter 2

Teaching methods: Seminar discussion.

The courses are taught in English only and are eligible for PhD Students of the Doctoral School in Human Sciences and Philosophy who might actively participate in them. Phd Students will also be provided with a tutorial assistance.

Assessment methods and criteria

Class attendance and participation, a 1.500 words paper is due at the end of the course.
For the calculation of the final grade, the following formula will be used:
Term Paper: 50%
Class attendance and partecipation: 50%