Spokane Public Library is excited to pilot a new mini-course in political philosophy, led by our Current Affairs Specialist, Shane Gronholz, who holds a PhD in philosophy.
Taking place each Wednesday in September, this course will delve into the foundational questions of political philosophy. Each class is designed to stand alone, so you can gain valuable insights even if you're unable to attend all sessions.
In his role as Current Affairs Specialist, Shane frequently reflects on the nature of our political disagreements and the state of civic dialogue. He posits that many of these disputes stem from differing underlying political philosophies. While understanding these philosophies may not resolve all disagreements, it can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of perspectives different from our own.
The central question we'll explore is: Where does the authority of the government come from? The government makes a lot of rules about who gets to do what. Governments have told people whom they can marry, what drugs they can take, how much they have to pay in taxes, what rights have to be respected (and which ones do not), and much, much more. Our question is simply: why do they get to do that?
This is a fundamental inquiry in political philosophy, and your answer to it can significantly shape your views on what the government is entitled to do. Join us as we unpack this question and explore its far-reaching implications.
Class 1: Social Contract Theory
In our inaugural session, we'll delve into the social contract theory, a pivotal concept in political philosophy that has profoundly influenced the formation and understanding of government, particularly in the United States.
The social contract theory posits that individuals consent, either implicitly or explicitly, to surrender some of their freedoms to an authority in return for the protection of their remaining rights. This idea has been instrumental in shaping the principles of governance and political obligation, and its echoes can be found in the writings of the framers of the U.S. Constitution.
However, like all theories, social contract theory is not without its critics. After introducing the key tenets of social contract theory and discussing influential thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, we'll shift our focus to the critiques. We'll explore arguments that challenge the theory's assumptions about human nature, consent, and the role of government.
This critical approach will allow us to examine the theory from multiple angles, deepening our understanding of its strengths, weaknesses, and implications for our understanding of government and society. Because this is such an influential and well-developed theory, we will devote our first two classes to studying and discussing it.
Join us as we critically engage with this foundational theory in political philosophy.
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We strive to make events welcoming for people of all abilities. To request accommodations (i.e. hearing assistance, ASL requests, or other ADA inquiries), call the library at 509-444-5308.