PHIL 321: Social and Political Philosophy [Fall 2018]


We live in a society that is full of disagreements about government and what it should do. You have probably argued about some of these questions before, whether in your dorm room, with relatives at Thanksgiving, or on Facebook or Twitter. The theme of this course, “Arguing about Politics: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly,” is geared toward making you better at thinking carefully about your own political views and being able to argue for them well. This course is divided into three sections:

  • The good: First, we will discuss how to argue well. In this section of the course, we will examine two topics: arguments about democracy itself and arguments about the place of multiculturalism in democracy.
  • The bad: Next, we will evaluate bad arguments. Why is it bad to argue uncharitably? How can you recognize good and bad reasons for believing something? How does tone affect arguments?
  • The ugly: Finally, we will discuss what happens when people or their government go beyond argument into outright lying or bullshit. We will end the course by evaluating one remedy—civil disobedience—for unjust government.