Fall/Winter Timetable

POL2006H1S L0101

Undergraduate Course Code: POL460H1S L0101

Studies in Modern Political Theory

Public Reason, Deliberation, and the Democratic Public Sphere


How should citizens and politicians be talking to each other in the public sphere about public issues? Why is this question important indeed more important than how citizens and politicians vote? These are the core questions we will investigate in this course. We will begin with the philosophical answers to these questions and end with some practical challenges faced by all democratic publics. The work of John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas will serve as our philosophical starting point. From these two theorists we will reconstruct an ideal of public justification and democratic legitimacy that gives primacy to reason and reason giving. We will then move through some concrete cases, in particular we will investigate the appropriate place of religion, passion, rhetoric and the media in public debate as well as post colonial challenges to the idea of reason embedded in theories of public justification and deliberation.



Format and Requirements

One two-hour seminar per week. Course requirements: a shorter and longer essay and a take home test.