Pluralism, Equality and the Problem of Democracy

The course explores the arguments of especially two interconnected topics and debates in contemporary political philosophy and democratic theory.

The first draws, in divergent ways, on the distinction between politics and the political,  and urges us to pay attention to an account of the political (or political ontology), necessary for any deep-enough treatment of the meaning of democracy. In the course especially Jacques Rancière’s thought will be made use of in order to explore and discuss this area, but also the conceptions of Hannah Arendt, Chantal Mouffe and Claude Lefort, among others, will be discussed.

Second, the conception of deliberative democracy as one of the philosophically strongest developments in contemporary democratic theory. The course introduces some of the basic issues of a deliberative conception and then focuses on certain issues in the most recent debate, especially those directly connected with the themes of the political, pluralism and equality, and with how to interpret the deliberative demand of inclusiveness in a situation of “porous borders” (Benhabib) or a post-national political condition.

A main focus will be on the meaning, place and value of plurality, pluralism, inclusion and equality, a set of issues central to both of these debates.

The course will in addition pursue reflections on the nature of what can be called post-foundational grounding. According to a post-foundational conception the route to any kind of final grounding in political philosophy is barred, while the importance of issues of grounding remain. How shall such a post-foundational mode of argumentation and grounding be understood?

The course consists of lectures aiming to provide an overview of the central problems, a set of texts to be read and discussed and explanatory lectures aiming to pursue critically the issue of grounding in each case. The students are supposed to read the texts and actively participate  in the discussion. The students will be invited to give short oral presentations (10-15 min) of the texts read, alone or together with some other student(s), and will be given extra credits for this.

The students are supposed to write two essays connected with the topics and the texts treated during the course. The first essay should be submitted no later than 2 December and the final should be submitted no later than Monday 19 December. The essays may also be written in the form of a lecture-diary, commenting, day by day, on the topics treated in the lectures and the texts read and discussed. Credits: 3-5 sp, depending on the scope and quality of the essays.

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