KU Leuven (Philosophy), University of Massachusetts Amherst (German Studies), University of Heidelberg
Thematic: Metaphysics, Social and Political Philosophy, Critical Theory, Political Economy
Historical: 19th and 20th Century European Philosophy, Hegel, Marx, Sohn-Rethel
PHIL 21413 Political Realism
In this course, we will discuss works that belong to the tradition of so-called political realism. Many great works of political philosophy begin by asking questions such as: what is justice? What is just action? Or how should society ideally be arranged so that it is just? Political realists proceed very differently. As Raymond Geuss puts it, they are “concerned in the first instance… with the way the social, economic, political, etc. institutions actually operate in some society at some given time, and what really does move human beings to act in given circumstances.” Some themes which we will address in this course include the roles of power, instrumental reasoning, and ethical commitments in politics. And some questions which we will ask along the way concern the motivation, coherence, tenability, and desirability of a realist approach. Readings will include selections from a broad range of historical periods and political perspectives, including Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, von Clausewitz, Weber, Schmitt, Lenin, and Geuss. (A)
Some experience with philosophy would be helpful.