Republicanism and Liberalism
Course Code: PUBLG030
Course Tutor: Dr John Filling (Department of Political Science)
Assessment: One 3,000 word essay
Credit Value: 15 credits
About this course
This is an advanced course in political theory which offers a critical combination of the two approaches to the discipline: the history of ideas and normative political philosophy.
It aims critically to assess the attempt by a number of contemporary political theorists such as Quentin Skinner, to retrieve the 'lost language' of republicanism, a language seemingly eclipsed by the triumph of liberal historiography from the 18th century onwards. Republican doctrine is articulated around the central concepts of citizenship, election, consent, virtue, freedom from domination, mixed government, and equality.
Once the exclusive ideology of the male, property-owning citizen of independent city-states, the republican ideal of 'non-domination' (drawn from Machiavelli, Harrington, Rousseau and others) came to provide an egalitarian, socially progressive, patriotic and democratic alternative to the liberalism of 'non-interference' notably inspired by Hobbes. Ever since, republicans have been engaged in a critical dialogue with the liberal account of modernity, in ways that parallel but do not overlap with Marxist critiques.
The course examines historical and contemporary versions of republicanism, concentrating on the specific theoretical issues that arise when attempting to retrieve old traditions of discourse to bring them to bear on contemporary philosophical debate.