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Tamar Gendler - An Introduction to Political Philosophy

The conceptual structure and theoretical underpinnings of the modern world, for better and worse, have been possible in no small part thanks to the work and intellectual courage of philosophers trying to figure out how a just and equitable society, in which individual liberties are protected, can be established and preserved.

Many concepts that we take for granted today as self-evident once had to be thought up and defended by daring thinkers—often with their own lives—against societies and regimes whose own interests, history and vision of self-evident truths blinded them to new and better possibilities.

When devising the constitutional and political structure of a society, what kinds of principles should carry priority? How should we adjudicate competing claims not only between individuals but even between principles? How should we go about weighing and balancing the rights of individuals vs the interests of society at large? Where do individual rights come from in the first place? How can we simultaneously maximize concepts such as freedom, justice, and equality when they can so easily stand in inversely proportional relationship to each other? What are legitimate ways to divide civil rights and responsibilities, to distribute wealth, to enforce compliance? How can we establish trust and cooperation between states and nations? What kinds of institutional and structural mechanisms ought to be instituted to carry out and protect these various ends?

If you've ever been curious about any of those questions, then the following Introduction to Political and Economic Philosophy, presented by Yale philosopher Tamar Gendler, would be a great way to get started on your own intellectual quest.

And if that peaked your interest, you might also enjoy Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel's celebrated course on Justice.

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