From time to time the Royal Institute runs a free philosophy course for subscribers to the Institute’s journals, and this term we’re going to try something more advanced than our usual introduction to philosophy. Please note, this course is now fully subscribed and underway.  Keep an eye out for future courses here.

Moral and Political Philosophy Course Overview

Over the course of ten weeks, we will examine some core ideas about the nature of morality, our motivations for complying with moral demands, and the place of values within the world. We will then examine some core ideas in political theory, looking at the foundations of political authority, the nature of freedom, property rights and distributive justice.

Provisional topics

1)  Egoism & Altruism (Hobbes, Hume, Williams, Nagel).

2)  Moral motivation (Hume, Kant, Pritchard, Williams).

3)  Mackie’s challenge to objectivism and objectivist responses (Mackie, McDowell, Nagel).

4)  Subjectivism & Non-Cognitivism (Hume, Ayer, Stevenson).

5)  Moral responsibility (Frankfurt, FIscher, Pereboom, Kane).

6)  Social contract theory: Actual and hypothetical (Locke, Rousseau, Rawls).

7) Political obligation and tacit consent (Locke, Hume, Dworkin, Simmons).

8) Positive and negative freedom (Berlin, Taylor, Cohen).

9) Property rights, distribution and end-state vs. historical entitlement (Locke, Nozick, Rawls, Otsuka)

10) Equality & luck (Dworkin, Cohen, Anderson, Sen).

The course will be taken by Dr. Nadine Elzein, a lecturer at University College Oxford, who has previously held posts at King’s College London, Southampton, Wadham College Oxford, and University College London.

The course is free but places are limited to those who subscribe to one or both of the Institute’s journals, Philosophy and Think — if you’re not a subscriber but want to take part, by all means subscribe now.  This course will require some familiarity with philosophy.  If you have taken part in an introductory course at the Royal Institute you’ll be well prepared, otherwise some formal study is needed. As numbers are limited to 25, we hope that only people who can endeavour to make every session will apply to take part.

The sessions start on 4 February from 5.30 – 7 pm, in the main lecture hall, 14 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0AR.  We hope to run ten sessions on the following Mondays.

To enquire about space on the course, email with a paragraph or so outlining your background in philosophy which might serve as background for the course.