the plan for the future

Revolutionary Ideas: An Introduction to Legal and Political Philosophy

14 October 2014 - 6 December 2014

Lecturer: Professor Alex Guerrero


This document contains course notes of the course Revolutionary Ideas: An Introduction to Legal and Political Philosophy by Professor Alex Guerrero of the University of Pennsylvania in the United States that is available on This course addresses questions like what is the purpose of government, why should we have a State and what kind of State should we have? All political and legal institutions are built on foundational ideas. This course explores those ideas. It takes the political institutions and political systems around us not as fixed and unquestionable, but as things to evaluate and, if necessary, to change.




1. Overview of the Subject
1.1. Introduction
1.2. Political institutions and starting positions
1.3. Peace and problem solving
1.4. Choice points in designing a state

2. Happiness and Utility
2.1. Introduction to happiness and utility
2.2. Thomas Hobbes and the state of nature
2.3. Escaping the state of nature
2.4. Happiness, welfare and the scope of the state
2.5. John Stuart Mill and the harm principle
2.6. Happiness and the harm principle
2.7. A more constructive role for the state in promoting happiness
2.8. Collective action problems, public goods and free riding
2.9. The epistemic power of the state
2.10. The epistemic power of deliberation
2.11. The epistemic power of large numbers
2.12. Law and development

3. Justice
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Distributive justice and utilitarianism
3.3. Problems with utilitarianism
3.4. The ten central human capabilities
3.5. Nozick's entitlement theory
3.6. Rawls's theory of justice
3.7. Rawls and the original position
3.8. Rawls and the two principles of justice

4. Equality
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Equality as a constraint: legal and political equality
4.3. Equality as a constraint: re-examining political equality
4.4. Equality as an objective: introduction to egalitarianism
4.5. Connections between material and political equality

5. Freedom and Autonomy
5.1. Introduction
5.2. Positive and negative freedom
5.3. Positive and negative freedom and the role of the state
5.4. Individual and community freedom

6. Political Community and Borders
6.1. Introduction
6.2. Voluntarism and political community
6.3. Rehfeld's random constituencies
6.4. Political community, cosmopolitanism, and world government
6.5. Immigration and exclusion
6.6. Immigration, exclusion and open borders

7. Representatives, Elections, and Lotteries
7.1. Introduction
7.2. The case for representatives
7.3. The case for elected representatives
7.4. The perils of electoral representation: Part I
7.5. The perils of electoral representation: Part II
7.6. The lottocracy
7.7. The promise of lottocracy
7.8. Concerns about lottocracy

8. Constitutions
8.1. Introduction
8.2. Constitutions as protective limits
8.3. The mechanisms of constitutional limitations
8.4. Pre-commitment and constitutional authority
8.5. Pre-commitment revisited
8.6. Constitutions and process theory
8.7. Constitutions, judicial review, and constitutional interpretation
8.8. Constitutional interpretation

9. Prisons and Punishment
9.1. Introduction
9.2. What is crime? What should be criminalised?
9.3. What can be criminalised? The Hart-Devlin debate
9.4. Theories of punishment
9.5. Theories of punishment: Retributivism
9.6. Retributivism reconsidered
9.7. Alternatives to incarceration: Restorative justice