This is an advanced research seminar and will divide into two componenets. Part of the term will be dedicated to careful examination of work in progress by several contemporary political philosophers. The list is not yet final but is likely to include Professors Sam Scheffler (NYU), Seana Schiffrin (UCLA), David Owens (who will becoming from the UK, where he teaches at Reading University), and Prof. Niko Kolodny (Berkeley). As our visitors will be presenting work in progress their work will not have a single common theme. It is likely to include work on toleration, equality and democracy. Two weeks before his or her visit each visitor will make available a paper or book chapter which they proposes to discuss with us. We will discuss it at the seminar meeting in the week preceding the visit, and on the basis of that discussion I will write to the author to indicate which aspects of his paper we found most challenging, or most requiring clarification. In the following week the author will be with us, opening the session by responding to the letter (which will be available to all the students), after which there will be a general discussion.
The other part of the term will be dedicated to the examination of some of my own work in progress. The themes of my work will overlap some of the topics of our visitors, e.g. equality and democracy. But the teaching method will inevitably be different. I will assign background reading, and present my research material for discussion in the seminar. In both parts of the seminar the discussion will be text-based and critical but its aim would be to mark out promising directions for future developments.
At the time table the course is allocated just over three hours every week. That will be the duration of sessions in which we have a visitor. The other sessions (both those discussing the work of visitors in their absence, and those discussing my own work), will be 2 hours sessions ending at 6:10. But participation in the long sessions when we have visitors is integral to the course and compulsory. These longer sessions will continue with drinks for the third hour, to give students an opportunity to continue the discussion in new directions.
Assessment will be on the basis of three short papers (5-6 pages) by each student as well as on the basis of participation in class discussion. The first paper will have to be submitted within the first 5 weeks of term. Major writing credit will be available. However, any student desiring to qualify for major writing credit should consult me early in the term.