The study of political theory is concerned with the meaning and justification of those concepts and their continuing relevance to the nature of modern politics.
- The rise and development of the modern state
- The nature and purpose of political theory in a world of states
- The political context from which modern political theory emerged
- The political context and the intellectual context of the European Enlightenment
- The justification of state sovereignty and the legitimacy of absolutist rule
- Nature and rights of the individual, whether these are compatible with political rule
- The use of social contract arguments to explain and justify political obligation
- The nature and scope of natural law and the role of property in limiting sovereign power
- Utilitarianism and contemporary contractarianism
- The challenge to the voluntarist account of the state and its account of individuals as free and equal subjects
- Rousseau and Hegel's alternative model of the state and its connection with freedom
- Marx’s critique of the centrality of the state to modern politics.
If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:
- demonstrate a familiarity with main ideas of the thinkers discussed in the subject guide
- provide an account of the main concepts used by the thinkers covered on the course
- evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments employed in the theories studied
- formulate your own interpretations of the thinkers covered using the model exam/essay questions.
Unseen written exam (3 hr).
- Boucher, D. and Paul Kelly (eds). Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Cahn, Steven M. Political Philosophy: The Essential Texts. New York, Oxford University Press.
- Hegel, G.W.F. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. (ed. Allen W. Wood, trans. H. B. Nisbet). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty and Other Essays (ed. J. Gray). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Course information sheets
Download the course information sheets from the LSE website.