Advanced Studies in Political Philosophy A

lfilo2360  2018-2019  Louvain-la-Neuve

Advanced Studies in Political Philosophy A
5 credits
30.0 h

  This biannual learning unit is not being organized in 2018-2019 !

Gosseries Axel coordinator; Zwarthoed Danielle;
Basic instruction in political philosophy ; reading knowledge of English sufficient to permit study of contemporary texts in political philosophy
Main themes
Each year this course will select a particular theme, e.g., justification for democracy, sovereignty, citizenship, conflict, power, justice worldwide, social justice, etc. The course will always present philosophical approaches different from the chosen theme, and compare and contrast these. The course will pay special attention to the relationship between the chosen theme and a reflection on the goals and methods of political philosophy.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :


Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to analyze and discuss, in a well-informed manner based on his or her own thinking, a selected question in the area of political philosophy.

At the end of the course the student should : 
- Be able to use research tools in political philosophy ;
- Be able to conceptualise the selected question ;
- Be able to situate responses to the question in the larger framework of the history of political philosophy and of contemporary debates as regards different approaches and theories; Include, in the philosophical discussion of the selected question, contributions from other disciplines pertinent to the analysis and discussion of the question ;
- Develop his or her own argumentation relative to the question. Submit the method of study chosen for the selected question to a critical reflection.


The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
In 2015-2016, the course will be divided in two parts, on two different topics, with two different approaches of political philosophy and two teachers. Professor Gosseries will be in charge alone of the assessment. Part 1 consists in 6 sessions by professor Luuk van Middelaar as part of his Chaire Mercier and entitled « European Politics between Utopia and History ». Part 2 will focus on democracy within organizations. We will select with the students, based on their interests, 3 types of organizations (from a list including universities, the press, political parties, religious organizations,'). We will look at governance issues within such organizations from the perspective of political philosophy. We will aim at answering questions such as 'How to define the demos of such organizations?', 'How should we connect governance and funding issues?', 'is it possible to define a mode of governance compatible with the specific objectives of each type of organization?','

Planning of the sessions
Possibly subject to last minute changes
  • Tuesday Feb. 2, 16h15-18h15 (Gosseries, in French, introductory session)
  • Tuesday Feb. 9, 16h15-19h (Gosseries, in French, interactive session on organization 1)
  • Tuesday Feb. 16, 16h15-19h (Gosseries, in French, interactive session on organization 2)
  • Tuesday Feb. 23, 16h15-19h (Gosseries, in French, interactive session on organization 3)
  • Tuesday March 1, 17 h-19h (Van Middelaar, in French)
  • Monday March 7, 16h15-18h15 (Van Middelaar, in English)
  • Monday March 14, 16h15-18h15 (Van Middelaar, in English)
  • Tuesday March 15, 16h15-18h15 (Gosseries, in French, synthesis session on democracy within organizations)
  • Monday March 21, 16h15-18h15 (Van Middelaar, in English)
  • Tuesday March 22, 16h15-19h (Gosseries, in French, Paper presentation ' draft 1)
  • Monday April 11, 16h15-18h15 (Van Middelaar, in English)
  • Monday April 18, 16h15-18h15 (Van Middelaar, in English)
Teaching methods
Prof. Van Middelaar: Lectures. Attendance is very important.
Prof. Gosseries: A mix of lectures and interactive seminars including (1) structured discussions in small groups in class based on specific questions assigned to each group (2) presentation by the students of their draft paper. Prior reading will be expected before some of the sessions. Active participation will be crucial.
Evaluation methods
Two written essays, one on each of the two parts of the course, in each case based on a question proposed by the student (and approved by the professor). Draft 1 will consist in a max 10.000 characters paper. Professor Gosseries will provide feedback on each of the two drafts and the student will present the revised version of the papers in class too. Two final 7.000 characters essays will then be handed in.
There will be an oral exam on the two essays.
Evaluation criteria will include: (1) rigor, (2) originality, (3) ability to take into account the critiques on the draft, (4) ability to defend the paper orally, (5) ability to write a well-focused paper.
Other information
  • An active knowledge of French and a passive one of English will be expected
  • Communication with the students on practical matters will take place via the Moodle platform
Online resources
Pour la partie du Professeur Van Middelaar, il n'y a pas de bibliographie particulière disponible à ce stade. L'assistance aux séances sera donc essentielle. Pour la partie du Professeur Gosseries, des lectures spécifiques seront proposées aux étudiants en fonction de la sélection d'organisations spécifiques effectuée lors de la première séance. Ces lectures consisteront soit en des articles académiques, soit en des chapitres d'ouvrages. A titre d'exemple, de telles lectures pourront inclure des chapitres de:

J. Baubérot et al., 1999. Démocratie dans les Eglises. Bruxelles : Lumen Vitae.
J. Cagé, 2015. Sauver les médias. Capitalisme, financement participatif et démocratie. Paris: Le Seuil
G. Dow, 2003. Governing the Firm. Worker's Control in Theory and Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003
R. Hazan & G. Rahat, 2010. Democracy within Parties. Candidate Selection Methods and Their Political Consequences. Oxford: OUP
McMahon C., 1997. Authority and Democracy. A general Theory of Government and Management. Princeton: Princeton UP.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme

Master [60] in Philosophy

Master [120] in Philosophy

Master [120] in Political Sciences: General

Master [120] in Ethics