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180109 SE Republican Freedom and the Economy (2019S)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first serve).


max. 30 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

To allow for optimum use of the limited seminar places, students who do not attend the first seminar session without notification of the lecturer will automatically be de-registered to make space for students on the waiting list.
If you have registered and cannot make it to the first session, but intend to follow this seminar, then please email felix.pinkert@univie.ac.at ahead of the session to keep your place.

Tuesday 19.03. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 26.03. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 02.04. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 09.04. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 30.04. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 07.05. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 14.05. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 21.05. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 28.05. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 04.06. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 18.06. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 25.06. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock


Aims, contents and method of the course

Neo-republican authors such as Philip Pettit build their political philosophy around the notion of republican freedom: A person is free in this sense if they enjoy non-domination, that is, are independent from arbitrary power of a master. This notion of freedom contrasts sharply with the notion of freedom as non-interference, because it is well possible to be dominated even though the dominating "master" does not in fact interfere with one's affairs: For domination to persist, it is sufficient that they could interfere. This counterfactual aspect of republican freedom makes it particularly promising to apply the concept to not obviously political relationships, in particular, to relationships in the economy: for example, between buyers and sellers, employers and employees, or landlords and tenants. In this seminar, we read about the neo-republican tradition in detail and then consider some selected applications to relationships in the economy.

We read Philip Pettit's "Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government" (OUP 1999) in detail, accompanied by several texts about freedom in the economy. Most notably, we will be reading Elisabeth Anderson's "Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It)".

At the end of the seminar, students will be able to:
- Explain and critically evaluate neo-republican political thought, in particular, Philip Pettit's version thereof.
- Explain and critically evaluate select applications of the neo-republican concept of freedom as non-domination to economic relations.
- Apply the concept of freedom as non-domination to independently evaluate other economic relations.
- Communicate their position concerning non-domination in economic relations to a wider non-specialist audience.

The seminar is taught in English, and will feature extensive small group discussions. In preparation of each seminar, students will read the assigned core text and provide some short answers to preparatory reading questions and writing exercises on Moodle.

Assessment and permitted materials

Students are required to complete three assignments, in English:
1) An essay of 1500-1700 words, which presents and critically discusses one aspect of republican freedom in general, focusing on ideas from Pettit's book.
2) An essay of 2300-2500 words, which discusses the application of republican freedom to a given economic relationship. This essay may, for example, focus on Pettit's, Anderson's, or other authors' claims about freedom and domination in the economy, but can also explore some other economic relationship that these authors have so far not examined.
3) A public engagement piece of 750-1000 words, in the style of a blog entry or newspaper opinion piece, in which students use ideas from the course material to critically comment on current social and political affairs, or advocate a practical policy position. Pieces in The Economist can serve as a useful example for this kind of writing. The aim of this assessment is to allow students to experiment with writing for a non-specialist audience.

Essay 1: 1500-1700 words, counts for 20% of the grade, deadline: June 1, 2019
Essay 2: 2300-2500 words, counts for 60% of the grade, deadline: September 30, 2019
Public engagement piece: 750-1000 words, counts for 20% of the grade, deadline: September 30, 2019

Optional Presentation:
Optionally, a limited number of students can replace essay 1 or the public engagement piece with a 10 minute presentation at the start of a seminar. The purpose of the presentation is to recapitulate key points from the reading, and to introduce a first discussion topic for group discussions. The presenter is also expected to read all of the answers to reading questions on Moodle, and to engage with selected points from these answers where appropriate. Finally, following the group discussions, the presenter conducts a short plenary discussion of this topic. The remainder of the seminar will still be chaired by the lecturer.

Interested students indicate their interest in a Moodle poll. If the number of interested students exceeds the number of presentation slots, then presenters will be selected on a lottery basis. After the first session of the seminar, presentation slots will be allocated to the presenters. As this allocation system does not allow students to indicate when to give their presentation, all potential presenters should be willing to present in pretty much any week (allowance can be made if students are unavailable in a given week). Presentations start from session 2.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

A positive evaluation requires students to achieve a pass grade (4) in all three assessment pieces, and to actively attend the seminar. Two unauthorized absences will be excused. Active seminar attendance includes reading the assigned core texts, and submitting weekly assigned short exercises on Moodle, 24 hours before each seminar.

Examination topics

Students can write their essays and public engagement topic on any topics linked to the seminar themes. Students are encouraged to develop their own research topics, and to consult with the lecturer on their writing plans.

Reading list

Key texts (all also available electronically):
Philip Pettit, "Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government" (OUP 1999).
Elisabeth Anderson: "Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It)", Princeton University Press, 2017. Key passages are available in her freely accessible Tanner Lectures here: https://tannerlectures.utah.edu/lecture-library.php
Philip Pettit, "Freedom in the Market", in: Politics, Philosophy & Economics 2006. Available here: https://www.princeton.edu/~ppettit/papers/Freedom_in_the_Market_PPE.pdf.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:36