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DSPO 2470A - Introduction to Libertarianism

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


Good command of the English language.

Course Description

Libertarianism is a theory that believes in natural inalienable individual rights and advocates for minimum state intervention. It departs from classical liberal thought yet is usually understood to derive from the works of Locke and Mill, even though earlier traces can be also identified in The Levellers and Hobbes. This class proposes to analyse libertarian thought by retracing its footsteps back to its sources. To identify major turning points in libertarian thought, we will look at its classic liberal roots, to understand the exact relationship between liberalism and libertarianism. This shall be done by focussing on the concepts of natural rights, consent, autonomy, voluntariness and self-ownership. Then we shall examine libertarian authors, in particular Nozick, to examine his theory in detail and its implications. We shall put this into context by identifying different streaks of contemporary libertarian thought, in particular left libertarianism and multicultural libertarianism. Finally, we shall engage with critiques of libertarian thought: the Marxist, feminist and race-oriented critiques.


MORNINGTON, Alicia-Dorothy (Maître de conférences)

Course validation

There will 4 marks: a final essay (30%), an oral presentation (25%), a midterm exam (25%), class participation (20%). Students will be expected to complete each week's key reading and come prepared for an active class discussion.

Required reading

  • NOZICK, Robert, Anarchy, State and Utopia, Oxford, Blackwell, 1974
  • MILL, John Stuart, On Liberty, New York, Prometheus Books, 1986
  • CRISP, Roger, ed., Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics, Cambridge University Press, 2014
  • KUKATHAS, Chandran, “Two Constructions of Libertarianism”, in Libertarian Papers, 2009, vol. 1, pp. 1-13
  • KUKATHAS, Chandran, “Tolerating the intolerable”, in Papers on Parliament, 1999, vol. 33, pp. 67-81