This course investigates the central problems of political theory that concern the justification and operation of democratic forms of government. What is democracy? What is the proper purpose and scope of political life? How can we judge between different political systems and assess their relative merits and virtues? What are the various ends of political life and how do they conflict? What is the relationship between democracy and other values or goods like rights justice equality and solidarity? What is the purpose of democracy and the strongest defense of it? Given the purposes of democracy how is it attained and preserved? What are some of the most urgent contemporary debates and controversies in democratic theory and practice? We take up these questions by reading a combination of classical works of modern political philosophy from Machiavelli to Marx along with contemporary work in political theory.
Harvard Division of Continuing Education