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Freedom or Equality? (PP1)


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to MA students in Philosophy. Admission to the specialisations Philosophy, Politics and Economics and/or Ethics and Politics is required.


This is a course in analytical political philosophy on the political values of freedom and equality. It deals mainly with modern-day discussion of these values, supported from time to time by an examination of classic discussions of these questions by, among others, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, G.W.F. Hegel, Thomas Hobbes. It considers not only the values individually but their relation to one another and how far they are conflicting or incommensurable.

Course objectives

This course aims to:

  • give students a familiarity with the concepts of freedom and equality, and their embedding in different political theories as core values and as principles guiding political action;

  • acquaint students with key writings on freedom and equality, including but not limited to the treatment of these values by modern political philosophers.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of :

  • the concepts of freedom and equality.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • paraphrase, interpret, reproduce and criticise the use made of freedom and equality in philosophical writing and in wider political contexts;

  • display a knowledge of the history of these concepts, and their responsiveness to wider technical, political and cultural change;

  • distinguish ideological and analytical appraisals of these concepts and their politically contentious interrelation.


See Timetables MA Philosophy 2015-2016
h3. Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load (10 EC x 28 hrs): 280 hours

  • Attending lectures and seminars: 14 × 3 = 42 hours

  • Final exam: 3 hours

  • Preparation classes and studying literature: 14 × 10 = 140 hours

  • Preparation mid-term essay: 45 hours

  • Preparation of final exam: 50 hours

Assessment method

  • Mid-term essay (50%)

  • Final (written) exam (50%)


One resit will be offered, covering the entire course content and consisting of a written exam and an essay. The grade will replace previously earned grades for subtests. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.


Blackboard will be used to give readings for subsequent seminars, to exchange information and ideas regarding the course material, and to circulate materials relevant to the course.

Reading list

  • Will Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy 2nd edn. (Oxford 2002).

  • Jerry Gaus, Political Concepts and Political Theories (Westview 2000).


Please register for this course via Study administration system uSis
See also Registration for lectures and tests

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof. dr. G.F. Newey