Liberalism and Its Critics

PLPT 407                                                                                                                G. Klosko

Liberalism and Its Critics                                                                          248B Cabell; x3092

Spring 2004                                                                                          

Hours: Wednesday 9:30 – 11:30,

and by appointment


Books have been ordered at the University Bookstore.  All books are on reserve in Clemons

Library.  Shorter readings are on the class toolkit page


The course has four main themes: (1) central concepts in liberal political theory; (2) classic works

in the liberal tradition and how the tradition developed from “classical liberalism” to contemporary

liberalism, based on the welfare-state; (3) major criticisms of liberal political theory; (4) liberal

discourse: the distinctive way liberal political theory supports its claims, and why it uses this form of argument.


  1. Locke, The Second Treatise on Civil Government, in Two Treatises of Government(Cambridge,



Utilitarian Liberalism

  1. Bentham: “Selections from Principles of Legislation,” in Introduction to Contemporary 

Civilization in the West (toolkit)


J.S. Mill, On Liberty (Hackett, paperback)


The Liberal Conception of Freedom

J-J. Rousseau, The Basic Political Writings (Hackett paperback):

Discourse on the Origins of Inequality

Discourse on Political Economy (pp. 111‑127).


  1. Berlin, “Two Concepts of Liberty,” in Four Essays on Liberty(toolkit).


  1. Constant, “The Liberty of the Ancients and the Liberty of the Moderns,” inConstant: Political

Writings, B. Fontana, ed. (toolkit).


  1. Tucker, ed., The Marx‑Engels Reader, Second Edition

(Norton, paperback): Selections:  Preface, to Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy;

German IdeologyCommunist Manifesto.


  1. T. Hobhouse, Liberalism, in Hobhouse, Liberalism and Other Writings(Cambridge, paperback).


T.H. Green, “Lecture on Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract,” in Lectures on the Principle

of Political Obligation and Other Writings (toolkit).


  1. Rawls,  “Justice as Fairness,” Philosophical Review, 67 (1958) (toolkit).


Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Harvard, paperback), Chaps. I‑III; IV: Secs. 33‑35, 38‑40; VI; VII: Secs.

66‑67; VIII: Sec. 77; IX: Secs. 78‑82, 85‑7.


  1. Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia(Basic Books, paperback): pp. 1-231


  1. Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice(Cambridge, paperback)


Rawls’s “Political Liberalisim”

Rawls, “Justice as Farness: Political Not Metaphysical,” Philosophy and Public Affairs,

14 (1985) (toolkit)


Rawls, “The Idea of an Overlapping Consensus,” Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, (1987)



  1. Foucault, Discipline and Punish(Vintage, paperback).

Liberal Neutrality

  1. Dworkin, “Liberalism,” in A Matter of Principle(toolkit).
  2. Galston, “Two Concepts of Liberalism,” Ethics, 105 (1995) (toolkit).
  3. Macedo, “Liberal Civic Education and Religious Fundamentalism: The Case of God
  4. John Rawls?” Ethics, 105 (1995) (toolkit).




  1. 1Midtermand final
  2. 2Paper of 10-12 pages, analytical or research, on a topic of your choosing. Paper is due on

Wednesday 21 April.  Late papers will be penalized; incompletes will not be given.

  1. 3. You must do the reading, come to class, and be prepared to discuss it.  Class participation is

taken into account and weighed heavily in grading.   Excessive, unexplained absences are grounds for being dropped from the class.