Political institutions make special demands on us. They demand that we accept the decisions of elected officials, that we pay taxes, that we obey the law. We often comply without even thinking about it, but sometimes the demands seem too onerous. So, we ask why and under what\ud conditions we should comply. What are the grounds upon which political institutions make these demands? Under what conditions are political institutions legitimate? This course asks us to reflect on our views on this question, and it explores the main answers that have been given to it in the modern West. We start with the answers of the major political theories of this period: The social contract tradition, Utilitarianism, and Marxism. The second part of the course deals with critiques of these modern views. In addition to exploring normative and conceptual differences among the various theories discussed, we will devote considerable to their practical implications. To this end, we will discuss a variety of concrete problems, including debates about the legitimacy of rebellion, the limits of state power in the regulation of speech and religion, the difficulties raised by migration of populations, and the problems derived from the emerging threat of global environmental decay--and other questions that may be important for you
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