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AHUM 25A14 - The Politics of Values

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Autumn 2020-2021

Number of hours : 48

Language of tuition : English


Intermediate coursework in political theory, and/or political science or philosophy.

Course Description

Political theory provides concepts, principles and categories that help us articulate practices, interests, norms and values in difficult situations. Broken legitimacy, failing justice, short-sighted solidarity, contested equality, asymmetries of power, arbitrary exclusion, all of these continually force us to think more systematically in order to act better. Political theory faces these challenges with specific tools, and an original perspective generally called normative: What should we do? How to be coherent between our values, beliefs and practices? Where to bridge the gap between ideal political principles and current institutions? Are there acceptable trade-offs between conflicting values or conflicting interpretations of values? Why are some values politicized and sometimes weaponized? We will address these questions through several contentious cases and with the help of classical and contemporary authors. The students learn to develop and sharpen a theoretically informed, interdisciplinary, critical, and reflexive viewpoint on major political issues. They expand their knowledge of foundational concepts and principles of political theory, and their skills in reasoning and using research material. For each session, one or two main texts (circa 30 pages) are assigned. Students are expected to keep an open mind regarding contentious issues involving moral and political perspectives they might not share but are ready to analyze and discuss.


  • BOUDOU, Benjamin V. (Consultant)
  • BRAUNSCHWEIG, Lila (Etudiante doctorante)

Pedagogical format

Each session will be organized around different sequences: the main lecture, a short interview of a specialist, a perspective from another discipline (law, sociology, history, anthropology, fiction) and/or a close reading of a classical author related to the theme.

Course validation

There are two course assessments: a) Midterm in the form of a group project b) Final written exam