Social and political philosophy

Social and political philosophy

There are many different definitions of Social Political Philosophy (SPP): the political can be defined as social decision making; philosophy is the most general form of inquiry that is the attempt to say what it is true and why. 

Course code: PHI0008

ECTS Credits: 6

Professor: Lorenzo Gallo

Course description

This course intends to familiarize the students with the debates and contributions of the main philosophical scholars and theories which have developed through history from the time of Greek Sophists through the XX century. Based on the Aristotelian assumption that man is a by nature a political animal, the course intends to give ultimate answers to questions such as how material goods should be distributed; on what basis people should possess property; what are the justified reasons why some people have more properties than others; why political power has to exist; what kinds of governments are acceptable; what does it determine the correct balance between authority and autonomy;  what is the right balance between private and common good; what are the justified limits to my/your freedom. 

Table of contents 

Part I: Historical contributions on social political thought

The Sophists: philosophy goes public; Plato’s Republic; Aristotle’s Politics; Cicero: Ius Gentium; Patristic era, St. Augustine: “De Civitate Dei”; St. Thomas on Natural law; Marsilio: “Defensor Pacis”; Machiavelli: The Prince; The Protestant reformation,  Luther & Calvin political thought; Hobbes, Locke on Social Contract; Rousseau: Human nature and society; Montesquieu: Separation of powers; Tocqueville: Democracy in America; Adam Smith:  The Wealth of nations; John Stuart Mill: On Liberty; Marx’s Critique of capitalism; Freud: Civilization and its discontents; Dostoyevsky’s Grand inquisitor; Hitler’s Nazism & Mussolini’s Fascism; Gandhi use of Power


Part II: Contemporary social political issues

Theories of Justice & distribution of property; Rights & Freedom; Natural law and social political philosophy; Justifications of the State, forms of Government ; Environment, Individualism, Multiculturalism, Feminism, Civil movements in a globalized world.