It’s like magic that we live peacefully with each other although we have very different pursuits and oftentimes conflicting claims on the society and on each other. How could peaceful and even harmonious collective life be possible? Why haven’t not fallen into what Hobbes calls the state of nature in which everyone fights everyone else?

A group of political theorists answer these questions with the aid of a “social contract”, whereby people lay down arms and comply with the orders of the sovereign set up by their mutual consent. How does the social contract works? What is its major problematic to work with? What are the mechanisms to deal with this problematic? Is the social contract realistically applicalbe to real life? What is the normative status of the social contract?

There are many similar topics in political philosophy that on the one hand occupies the focus of great minds and on other hand impact heavily on our public life, especially on its basic structure, i.e. basic institutional infrastructure.

This course will survey major topics in political philosophy such as social contract, distribute justice, state legitimacy, public justification etc. It will be done via introducing and analyzing major thinkers/texts in the corresponding topics, plus applying the theory to some cases to examine its validity.