12005 Liberalism: Texts, Contexts, Critiques 1

Credits: 3 graduate credits in Democracy Studies / History, Education and Citizenship or Communication and Culture

Prerequisites: Two of the following: Democracy: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Israeli Democracy: Selected Issues, Contemporary Democratic Theories, and exemption from bibliographic assignments on computer searches in the “Alef” catalog and databases.

Author: Gal Gerson. The materials include a reader.

The course deals with the language of liberalism in which concepts such as “freedom”, “rights” and “progress” are used to justify political positions in functioning democracies. It reviews the diverse historical interpretations of this liberal language as they are reflected in the works of political philosophers from the Enlightenment through the end of the 20th century.

Topics: Liberalism in the 18th and 19th centuries – rights, liberty and separation of powers (John Locke and Montesquieu); utilitarianism, progress and perfection (Jeremy Bentham and Mary Wollstonecraft); skepticism and the tyranny of the majority (Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill); Liberalism in the 20th century – revision of familiar ideologies (Eduard Bernstein and Leonard Hobhouse), neo-liberalism (Isaiah Berlin and Friedrich von Hayek), philosophic revival (John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin); A critique of liberalism – the will of all (Jean Jacques Rousseau), tyranny of the market and commerce (Karl Marx), the will to power (Friedrich Nietzsche), emergency and war (Carl Schmidt), community (Michael Sandel), gender (Carole Pateman).

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.