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World Capitalism and its Critics


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to MA students in Philosophy 60 EC, specialisation Philosophy, Politics and Economics.


While the world is routinely described as capitalist, capitalism has rarely been a unified concept. After the fall of communism it was sometimes claimed that ‘capitalism has won.’ And yet the meaning and merits of capitalism remain the subject of intense debate. Critics have assailed capitalism as an exploitative, wasteful, undemocratic, and morally indefensible way of organizing economic life. Whereas capitalism’s defenders maintain it to be the most dynamic, efficient, and just economic system available. There is indeed uncertainty as to whether a viable alternative to capitalism exists or can be struck.

This course explores the meaning and features of world capitalism and addresses some of the most important debates on contemporary capitalism and its future. The course furnishes an understanding of the nature of capitalism, not purely or even mainly as a set of idealized abstractions, but as a set of real world-historical phenomena and effects that generate practical and philosophical questions. Embracing a transdisciplinary approach that draws from philosophy, political economy, and relevant policy fields, this course furnishes a critical analysis of contemporary capitalism that reflects diverse intellectual, geographical, and social vantage points.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide students with a critical understanding of capitalism and its discontents.

Students who successfully complete the course will posses:

  • a critical understanding of world capitalism, both ideationally and in real terms;

  • ideas and tools for making sense of capitalism in fields that most concern them.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • analyze contemporary debates on capitalism from an historically informed perspective;

  • articulate well-reasoned positions on questions addressed in the course content.


The timetable is available on the MA Philosophy website

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

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

  • Attending seminars: 13 × 2 hours = 26 hours

Further calculation of course load to be announced.

Assessment method

To be announced.


Blackboard will be used for:

To be announced.

Reading list

To be announced.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number, which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. J.D. London


Not applicable.