Individual Freedom vs. Authority

Questions?

  • University College
    202-885-6737
    universitycollege@american.edu
    Anderson, Room 1014

    Wyatt, Jamie J
    Associate Director, University College and Learning Communities

Mailing Address

GOVT-105

Fall Semester Seminar, GenEd area 2

This course is an introduction to the central themes of political philosophy: What is justice, and what would a just political society look like? What is the purpose of political society? How does freedom fit in to this purpose? In what ways are both freedom and authority limited by principles of justice, and in what ways by unavoidable facts? How do we determine which political facts are permanent and which can be changed?

 These questions are timeless in the sense that each society, and every generation within each society, must confront them anew in the attempt to bring order and justice to people's common affairs. Political philosophy is the attempt to arrive at timeless answers--or at least, to achieve clarity about the fundamental alternatives amongst which people must choose. The aim of the course is to confront these questions by examining some of the most profound and influential writings in the history of Western political thought.

From the Professor: Borden Flanagan

How does your University College section of this course differ from a non-University College section?

"The most obvious difference is that the classroom experience is complemented by the weekly labs, which aim to bring the theoretical issues down to earth and show their concrete significance."

How do your Wednesday labs tie into the academic content of your course?

"The course is on political philosophy, whose chief subjects are justice and human nature. Assumptions about these two things form the basis of all our policy debates and positions, so it's not difficult to find relevant material, especially in DC. We go to landmarks with deep philosophical significance (the Lincoln memorial, the Declaration of Independence in the National Archives, the Library of Congress); we attend presentations and debates at thinktanks; we tour the DC courts; we'll even see a movie or two with relevant subject matter."

Meet the Professor!

Borden Flanagan

Get to know Professor Flanagan's teaching style and learn more about her goals for this class

Learn more