Course Detail


Seminar in Philosophy

Fall 2015

Instructor: Layman

Topic: Political Liberty

Description: In his 1959 article, "Two Concepts of Liberty," Isaiah Berlin identifies two competing conceptions of political freedom, one positive and one negative. According to Berlin, positive freedom, among whose proponents he counts Hegel and Rousseau, is a matter of self- realization, while negative liberty, which Berlin finds in British liberalism, is simply the absence of interference. Since Berlin published his seminal piece, many philosophers have sought to develop and defend one of the two traditions that comprise Berlin's dichotomy, while others have challenged the validity of that dichotomy. In this seminar, we will work to understand and evaluate some of the most significant contributions to the contemporary literature on political liberty. In addition to interpretations of Berlin-style positive and negative liberty, we will consider feminist and neo-republican alternatives to the received positive/negative paradigm. We will also discuss scholarship that connects the problem of political freedom to related questions of democracy, legitimacy, and distributive justice.

Spring 2015

Instructor: Studtmann

Topic: TBD


This course can be repeated for credit given sufficiently distinct topics: check with the department chair. (Fall, Spring)