CoursesDemocracy and Disagreement
PSCI 398 - 306

Democracy and Disagreement

When and how can we justify using the power of the government to force our fellow citizens to follow rules with which they disagree?

Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:45 PM – 3:15 PM

In attempting to answer this question, we will pay special attention to (1) the various different types and sources of political disagreement and (2) the role of deliberation and reason-giving in a democracy. Through reading and debating works of contemporary political theory and philosophy, this course should help you to reflect on some fundamental but easily neglected questions about your own civic attitudes and behavior. What beliefs underpin your political commitments, why do you hold those beliefs, and why do other people see things differently? What makes you so sure that you’re right and they’re wrong? How, if at all, should you try to change their minds? When, if ever, should you refrain from supporting legal prohibition of actions that you feel sure are morally wrong?

Students will be expected to contribute substantively and thoughtfully to class discussions [20% of grade], prepare and deliver two 10-min oral presentations [20%], and write at least three short (4-5 page) papers, [60%; three best papers each count for 20%].

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