POLS 451: Libertarianism and Its Critics

Last year I taught this course as POLS 456, even though the description of that course is “politics of identity”. This year I will be teaching it as POLS 451.

Course Description: “This course examines some of the main theoretical defences of free markets, private property, and the limited state, covering thinkers such as Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, Robert Nozick, and Gerald Gaus (not all of whom are libertarians in the strict sense). The course also covers the recent development of “left-libertarianism,” which tries to reconcile the libertarian principle of self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to the division of the world’s resources.”

POLS 456 Reading List

The purpose of POLS 456 for Winter 2010 is to examine the most important political theories that champion the free market and permit only a limited role for the state in social and economic life.  I have called the course “Libertarianism and Its Critics,” but it could also be a called a course on the philosophical foundations of neo-liberalism, or a course on neo-classical liberalism, or a course on liberalism-in-the-European-sense.  The thinkers we will read are not all libertarians, strictly speaking (e.g. Hayek).  But, with the exception of the so-called “left-libertarians” we will read at the end of the course, they have all been influential in opposing greater state control and regulation of economic life, and in particular in resisting calls for a more equal distribution of wealth and income.

Core readings for POLS 456 will be the three books by Hayek, Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, and Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia. I will put all of these books on reserve in the library, but you will probably want to buy them.  They are easily available from Amazon or Chapters; any edition will do.  Most of the rest of the readings will be articles available via library subscription.  The main exception is the John Galt speech from Ayn Rand.  This will be on reserve, but if you want to buy it you could purchase either Atlas Shrugged or For the New Intellectual, which is a collective of speeches from her novels.

Continue reading POLS 456 Reading List

POLS 456, Libertarianism and Its Critics

That’s what POLS 456 is going to be about this year, not “the politics of identity” as it says in the calendar and on our departmental website.  POLS 456 will likely return as the politics of identity in future years, however, taught by Prof. MacDonald

For a fuller description of my Winter 2010 POLS 456, see my previous post

Revised 451 Syllabus

I’ve posted a new draft of the syllabus for POLS 451, my fall seminar on toleration and public reason.  I’ve dropped one historical week (Bayle) and one theoretical week (Raz and Estlund), added an applied week (education), and left the first week of class without any readings.  I’ve also made the laptop ban just a suggestion, to be discussed in the first week of class.  The syllabus is here