74786 - Political Philosophy

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

Political Philosophy is conceived as the application of philosophical investigation to politics and thus as a study of the contribution that philosophy may give to political practice. This implies both a clarification of the terms used in our everyday political vocabulary and an attempt at designing models of a just society. The course intends to provide the students with the following abilities: a) notions on methodology in historical investigation; b) ability to analytically read a text while at the same time situating it into the historical and linguistic context of the age; c) knowledge of the perennial tasks of political philosophy; d) an introduction to political realism.

Course contents

The Origin and Development of Political Psychology: From Plato to Martha Nussbaum

The course is devoted to the examination of the origin and development of political psychology. We will start with Plato's notion of the tripartite soul and will arrive to the role of emotions in Martha Nussbaum's thought.

The first classes will be devoted to a clarification of the notion of 'political philosophy' and to an account of the methodology in the history of political thought. 

The course is offered in the second semester and classes will start in February 2024.



Required readings

We will read selected parts of the following works:

Plato, Republic, transl. D. Lee, London, Penguin, 2007: books 4-5.

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, transl. T. Irwin, Indianapolis, Hackett, 2019, book 6.

G. Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, Dover Publications, 2002: book 1 and 2 (excluding 3).

S. Freud, Mass Psychology and Analysis of the I in Mass Psychology and Other Writings, London, Penguin, 2004, pp. 15-100.

J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, Cambridge, Belknap Press, 2002: part 1, chapters 1-3..

S. Hampshire, innocence and Experience, London, Penguin, 1989, chapter 1.

M. Nussbaum, Upheavals of Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999: part I.


Teaching methods

30 classes of 2 hours each for a total of 60 hours. 

The course is offered in the second semester and classes will start in February 2024.

Assessment methods

The final exam will consist in an oral discussion at the end of the course. During this discussion the instructor will evaluate the student's ability to identify the central notions of a text, to examine them critically and to argue consistently.

Students who attend the classes have the option to write a paper on a subject agreed with the instructors. The final exam will be in English; however, students who prefer to take it (or to write the paper) in Italian are welcome to do so.

People with disabilities and SLD

People with disabilities or specific learning disorders are entitled to special adaptations in relation to their condition, subject to assessment by the University Service for Students with Disabilities and SLD. Please do not contact the teacher, but contact the Service for an appointment. It will be the responsibility of the Service to determine which adaptations are appropriate. More information on page site.unibo.it/studenti-con-disabilita-e-dsa/it/per-studenti.


Office hours

See the website of Giovanni Giorgini

See the website of Alina Scudieri


Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.