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FILA9 Republican Freedom in Political Philosophy 3–5 ECTS
Implementation is also a part of open university teaching
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Type or level of studies
Intermediate studies
Course unit descriptions in the curriculum
Degree Programme in Philosophy
School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Learning outcomes

Learning Objectives

In this course we primarily focus on the work of Phillip Pettit, one of the leading thinkers who in his 1997 book Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government put republican thought (back) on the political theory map. Republicanism generated a small cottage industry of advocates and critics elaborating on the key concepts and principles underlying republican political theory. Pettit's own views, following two decades of debate, are systematically presented in a more recent volume, entitled "On the People's Terms: A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy." In this course we will examine some key positions in Pettit's later work, engage with critics of his views but also apply republican thinking to important areas of public policy (health and economic justice). Students will critically assess arguments for and against the republican notions of individual and political freedom as well as ascertaining their relevance for debates in public policy.

General description

FILA9 Republican Freedom in Political Philosophy

Fall 2016 Course (3-5 ECTS)

School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere

Course Language: English


Jurgen De Wispelaere (jurgen.dewispelaere@gmail.com)

Arto Laitinen (arto.Laitinen@staff.uta.fi)


Individual and political freedom are two ideas of central importance in both historical and current political thought. Freedom forms a key part of the cannon of Liberalism (in all its guises) and is often explicitly associated in contemporary political theory with debates around Libertarianism, Classical Liberalism and Liberal-Egalitarianism. In this broad liberal tradition, individual freedom takes the form of non-interference: a free person is not obstructed in exercising a choice, and the more options a person has the more free she is. Similarly, political freedom is typically associated with consent to be governed: the only legitimate exercise of state power over citizens is that which is collectively authorised through a mechanism of consent (e.g., a democratic vote). The last two decades have witnessed an exercise in retrieval of (what some argue) to be an “older” tradition in which freedom also plays a key role — Republicanism. Republican political theory pitches itself against the liberal notion of freedom-as-noninterference and instead posits the concept of freedom-as-nondomination. On the republican understanding, a free agent is robustly protected by external (“alien”) control, whether potentially or actually exercised. Actual interference propounded by liberals is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition to understanding agency freedom. Similarly, in terms of political freedom, republicans insist consent is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for evaluating the legitimate use of state power. Instead of consent, republicans focus on contestation as the key democratic principle. In this course we examine the republican idea of freedom-as-nondomination from both the individual and collective/political perspective, as well as examining its usefulness for public policy.

Course Schedule 15-Nov-2016 – 18-Nov-2016

* All lectures will take place in Linna K107, with exception of Thu 17/11 when we are in K106!

Tue 15-Nov-2016 at 12-14, Linna K107 Freedom as Nondomination

Tue 15-Nov-2016 at 14-16, Linna K107 Structural Domination

Wed 16-Nov-2016 at 10-12, Linna K107 Political Freedom and Democracy: Pettit

Wed 16-Nov-2016 at 12-14, Linna K107 Popular Sovereignty Revised?

Thu 17-Nov-2016 at 10-12, Linna K106 The Republican Critique of Capitalism

Fri 18-Nov-2016 at 10-12, Linna K107 Towards A Republic of Health?

Enrolment for University Studies

Enrolment time has expired


Jurgen De Wispelaere, Teacher responsible
Arto Laitinen, Teacher responsible


15-Nov-2016 – 18-Nov-2016
Lectures 12 hours
Tue 15-Nov-2016 at 12-14, Linna K107
Tue 15-Nov-2016 at 14-16, Linna K107
Wed 16-Nov-2016 at 10-12, Linna K107
Wed 16-Nov-2016 at 12-14, Linna K107
Thu 17-Nov-2016 at 10-12, Linna K106
Fri 18-Nov-2016 at 10-12, Linna K107


Numeric 1-5.

Evaluation criteria

Course Format and Course Evaluation

This course consists of a series of 6 lectures (around 45-50mins each), outlining the main positions of Pettit and/or his critics. Each lecture block will be followed by a class discussion (again 45-50mins) and students are expected to be prepared to participate in the discussion. To that effect it is expected that students have read the core text indicated in the detailed lecture schedule below.

Reading the further suggested readings is recommended but not essential to participate in the class.


Study materials

Course Syllabus

Core readings marked * are compulsory (between 25-50 pages for each session). Further readings are recommended for you to explore in more detail the topic at hand.

Tue 15-Nov-2016, 12-14, Linna K107: “Freedom as Nondomination"

* Philip Pettit (2012) On the People’s Terms. Cambridge University Press: Chapter 1 (Freedom as Nondomination)

Further reading: TBA

Tue 15-Nov-2016, 14-16, Linna K107: “The Structural Complaint”

Alex Gourevitch (2013) “Labor Republicanism and the Transformation of Work”, Political Theory 41(4): 591–617.

Further reading: TBA

Wed 16-Nov-2016, 10-12, Linna K107: “Political Freedom and Democracy”

* Philip Pettit (2012), On the People’s Terms. Cambridge University Press: Chapter 3 (Political Legitimacy)

Further reading: TBA

Wed 16-Nov-2016, 12-14, Linna K107: “Popular Sovereignty Revisited?”

* Jacob Levy (2016) “Coherence, Consistency, Equality: on Pettit’s Republican Democracy”, Political Theory, 44(5): 679–86.

* Richard Bellamy (2016) “Which Republicanism, Whose Freedom?”, Political Theory 44(5):669–78.

* Phillip Pettit, Philip. 2016. “On the Peoples Terms: a Reply to Bellamy, Levy and Lovett.” Political Theory 44(5): 697–706 (responses to Levy/Bellamy only)

Further reading: TBA

Thu 17-Nov-2016: 10-12, Linna K106, “The Republican Critique of Capitalism” * Phillip Pettit (2006), “Freedom in the Market”, Politics, Philosophy & Economics 5(2):131–49.

* Stuart White (2011) “The Republican Critique of Capitalism”, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14(5): 561–79.

Further reading: TBA

Fri 18-Nov-2016, 10-12, Linna K107, “Towards A Republic of Health?”

* Tom O’Shea (2016) “Civic Republican Medical Ethics”,

Journal of Medical Ethics: medethics–2016–103697.

* Daniel Weinstock (2016) “Can Republicanism Tame Public Health?”, Public Health Ethics 9(2): 125–33.

Ideally also read the v. short commentaries on the Weinstock article by A.M. Viens (2016) “Public Health and Political Theory: the Importance of Taming Individualism.” Public Health Ethics 9(2): 136–38 and Paul Scott (2016). “Democracy, Law and Relationships of Domination—a Response to ‘Can Republicanism Tame Public Health?’.” Public Health Ethics 9(2): 134–35.

Further reading: TBA