The aim of this series is to analyze Capitalist and Socialist Theory from an objective point of view. We will read Adam Smith and Karl Marx, among many, many more. We will read their critics, discuss the ideas we read in our sessions, and (optionally) write essays analyzing, comparing, and contrasting their ideas.
This series is just the second part--on the role of government (liberty v. equality).
How we structure each session will be based on this guide:
Sessions will be added continually.
I have read a few books on capitalism and socialism, though I hope this series will vastly expand my knowledge.
✋ ATTENDANCE POLICY
Please do not miss any sessions, since we will have a strict timeline for reading each book. However, attendance is optional and we will be summarizing and discussing each week's reading (for those who couldn't read themselves).
July 6 - November 27
13 / 20
About the Tutor
Hi, my name's Jose, I'm a Junior and an international student. I love listening to Indie music, watching 80s movies, and reading in my spare time. I enjoy math because it allows me to express myself artistically, and tutor for the mere sake of those aha moments. I'm currently taking Calc 3 and AP Physics C, hope to see you soon!
Guiding Question: What did Hobbes envision was the role of government?
Hey guys, today we will finish discussing and analyzing "Leviathan," by Thomas Hobbes, having read parts 3-4 and the conclusion (approximately 250 pages). We'll discuss his arguments on why governments are necessary, how they should be structured, and any potential issues with his government (criticisms).
Guiding Question: What did Mills consider to be the adequate balance between rights and regulation? Are individual freedoms or collective security the priority?
Hey guys, today we will discuss John Mills, "On Liberty," (115 pages) wherein he deliberates on when regulation is justified, as well as when it not and instead violates individual rights. Then, we will discuss "Utilitarianism" (65 pages), wherein he discusses whether it is moral to sacrifice individual for communal well-being. This is going to be a crucial theme since free market economics as well as socialist/communist theories assume opposite stances when it comes to government intervention. Those being minimum regulation (which purports to promote individual freedom and well-being) vs. maximum regulation in order to ensure equity (which purports to promote communal well-being). After this, we'll also discuss Robert Higg's "Fear: The Foundation of Government," (15 pages) wherein he discusses how governments expand their reach and power with indifference to individual rights under the guise of protecting their citizens.
Guiding Questions: Why does Rousseau consider governments fundamentally democratic? What is Rawls's fundamental assumption in "A Theory of Justice"?
Hey guys, today we will discuss Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "On the Social Contract," (approximately 100 pages) where in he discusses why governments must be fundamentally democratic, or else they fall. Remember: How does Higgs criticize Social Contractarianism? Is this criticism valid? Then, we will start by introducing John Rawl's "A Theory of Justice," having read chapters 1-2 (pg. 3-102), discussing his underlying assumptions and how those axioms allow him to place equality as the principle around which societies should strive to aim.
Guiding Questions: Why does Rawls place fairness and equality as the fundamental aim of just governments? How does this relate to the idea of the "veil of ignorance"?
Today we'll be discussing the ideas and justifications provided in chapters 3-6 (about 250 pages). Again, we must remind ourselves of the original question: Are individual freedoms or collective good paramount? Freedom v. Equality.
Guiding Questions: What threat, does Rawls propose, could disrupt the quest to equality and justice?
Today we'll be finishing "A Theory of Justice" by John Rawls, discussing his ideas as always, criticizing them, and getting ready to read a rebuttal to his axiom of equality: liberty!
Guiding Question: How does Rawl's idea of societal "tendency to equality" contrast the ideas proposed in Rousseau's "Discourse on The Origin of Inequality?"
Today we'll be finishing "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" by Robert Nozick, discussing his additional rebuttal to Rawls's/general egalitarian philosophies ( approximately 100 pages). We will also read Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "Discourse on The Origin of Inequality" (100 pages), and contrast his insitence that inequality is a natural and unavoidable fact to Rawl's idea that equality was an unavoidable end.
Guiding Questions: What is Nozick's assumption in "State, Anarchy, and Utopia?" How does he oppose Rawls?
Today we'll be starting "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" by Robert Nozick, having read chapters 1-7 (pg. 3-232). We'll be discussing why he constructs his notion of a "minimal" government, one which would favor a capitalist economy, around the idea of liberty. How does this contrast Rawls's approach of an egalitarian society?
Guiding Question: What is the proper balance between liberty and equality? Is it ok to sacrifice individual rights for communal well-being? Are all stable governments by necessity democratic? Is there a true tendency to equality?
UNIT 2: THE PURPOSE AND EXTENT OF GOVERNMENT
We will review the central ideas of equality proposed by Rawls and Rousseau to those of liberty proposed by Nozick and Mills.
Those who wish to write their essays answering these/related questions, please let me know on your progress.
Thus we conclude our second unit.
Hey guys, we'll do our second set of essay presentations here!