- The ability to outline the argumentative structure of current debates within political theory and philosophy.
- The ability to contextualize such a debate both historically in the development of the discipline, and ontologically in schools of thought within philosophy and politics.
- The ability to construct a new debate on the basis of possibly disparate but theoretically related contributions to the discipline.
- The ability to assess the strengths and weakness of a debate (the argumentative lacunae and innovative qualities), to identify needs and opportunities for fruitful and relevant further research, and indicate realistic limits for the future evolution of a debate.
- The ability to formulate a research proposal and plan for one’s own Master's Thesis as a continuation of a contemporary debate in political theory.
This course offers a thorough, though far from exhaustive, overview of the depth and breadth of the discipline presented in the form of debates between thinkers and their perspectives. The course is adapted annually to include topical debates in the field. Its aim is to also help you choose and develop a topic for your Master's thesis.
Students independently prepare and lead the sessions; staff (including a number of guest lecturers) are present and active only as expert witnesses, perhaps occasionally giving a brief introduction to a body of literature. The current research agenda of political theorists across the globe determines the choice of topics - with at least one topic to be freely, but collectively, chosen by the students. Even then, the course tries to steer clear of current affairs and politically hot topics; only intrinsically (i.e., philosophically) interesting questions can and will be addressed.
Previous debates (which may or may not return this year) were animal advocacy (rights, welfare and capabilities); justice from the perspective of socio-biology; cosmopolitanism; the misfit between justice and democracy; true evil (from Robespierre to Dutroux); how to democratically constitute a 'people' without circular reasoning; 'hoes & bitches' versus 'power girls'; justice for future generations; religion, anti-religion and a-religious thought; Schmitt, Mouffe and agonism, etc.
At the end of the course, all students present a proposal for their Master thesis, which should take the next logical step in a debate in political theory.