**Sections in yellow need to be checked ** MA/BA Module on Political Power, 2015-16. When philosophers talk about justice, rights or freedom they are at least implicitly presupposing or recommending particular structures or divisions of political power. The question of what sort of power they have in mind therefore arises. So what is political power? Is it a feature of individual or collective agents, or an aspect of some sort of social structure? Does it consist in a capacity to act in a certain way, or is it itself a form of action? Is it inherently relational? What distinguishes political power from power of other kinds? Is power distinct from violence? In this module we shall address these and other questions by examining a series of influential interpretations of power, some historical and some contemporary.
Lectures:The lectures for this module will be held in **, on Tuesdays from 6-7pm in the Autumn Term. The lecturer is Prof. Susan James (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Seminars:The seminarsfor this module will be held in **, on Tuesdays from 7-8pm in the Autumn Term. They will be led by the lecturer and by **.
Readings: There is one ‘essential reading’ for each session. You need to read this before you come to class. The ‘additional reading’ is optional, but it is advisable to read it if you can. At the start of term I shall provide fuller advice about how to prepare for classes.
Essays (BA): This module is assessed by one essay of around 3,000 words. It must be written in response to one of the set questions listed below, except with permission from the module convenor. For details concerning submission of the essay, including deadlines, see the BA Handbook.
Prior to this assessed essay, you may also write up to two essays during the course, taken from the titles below, and receive feedback on them from your seminar leader. These can be useful practice for your eventual assessed essay. You should submit the first such essay by the first seminar after reading week, and the second by one week after the last seminar of term. [Notes: 1) You are always welcome to submit an essay earlier than these dates; 2) the seminar leader should not be expected to comment on the same essay more than once.]
Essay (MA): This module is assessed by one essay of around 3,500 words. It must be written in response to one of the set questions listed below, except with permission from the module convenor. For details concerning submission of the essay, including deadlines, see the MA Handbook.
Moodle:Electronic copies of course materials are available through Moodle, at http://moodle.bbk.ac.uk. You will need your ITS login name and password to enter.
Week 1: Conceptual Maps and Problems
Steven Lukes, Power: A Radical View, 2nd edition (Palgrave, 2007), ch. 1.
Additional reading: Barry Hindess, Discourses of Power from Hobbes to Foucault (Blackwell, 1996), Introduction.
Cary Nederman, ‘Machiavelli and Moral Character: Principality, Republic and the Psychology of Virtu’, History of Political Thought 21 (2000), 349-64.
Virginia Cox, ‘Rhetoric and Ethics in Machiavelli’ in John Najemi ed., The Cambridge Companion to Machiavelli
2. Assess Hobbes’s argument for his claim that a multitude of individuals can only act when a sovereign represents their will?
See the essential and additional reading for week 3 and:
Barry Hindess, Discourses of Power: from Hobbes to Foucault, ch. 2.
David Runciman, ‘What Kind of Person is Hobbes’s State? A Reply to Skinner,’ Journal of Political Philosophy 8 (2000), 268-78.
Quentin Skinner, ‘Hobbes on Representation’, European Journal of Philosophy 13 (2005), pp. 155-84.
Quentin Skinner, ‘Hobbes on Persons, Authors and Representatives’ in TheCambridge Companion to Leviathan ed. Patricia Springborg.
Richard Tuck, Philosophy and Government 1575-1621, ch. 7.
3. Critically discuss Spinoza’s account of the relation between power and political power.
See the essential and additional reading for week 4 and:
Benedict Spinoza, Theologico-Political Treatise, ed. Jonathan Israel, chs. 16 and 17.
Justin Steinberg, ‘Spinoza’s Political Philosophy’ Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2009/entries/spinoza-political/
Etienne Balibar, Spinoza and Politics, chs. 3 and 5.
Moira Gatens and Genevieve Lloyd, Collective Imaginings: Spinoza Past and Present, chs. 4 and 5.
Susan James, Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion and Politics: TheTractatus Theologico-Politicus (OUP, 2012), chs. 10 and 11.
4. How, according to Marx, does ideology serve to maintain the domination of the ruling class? Is his account persuasive?
See the essential and additional reading for week 5 and: