Philosophy of Resistance: Protest, Violence, and Revolution

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
July 19, 2021 - August 18, 20217/19 - 8/184 WeeksOnlineWaitlistedOnlineMatthew Schrepfer

Course Description

This course will consider the ethics and politics of resistance to the law: when (if ever) it is permissible, or even required, to break the law, use violence in protests, or even overthrow the government altogether. We will explore the debates on these questions as they have appeared both in professional philosophy and in the public, political sphere in recent years.

The course will both consider some fundamental questions in political and moral philosophy: is there an obligation to obey the law? what, if anything, can justify violence? what makes a government legitimate?, as well as applied questions about specific kinds of resistance (like riots, strikes, etc.), when they might be justified, and why. The aim of the course is to help students to think about some prominent political debates that have gained attention recently, identify the more general principles underlying those debates, and develop and defend their own views on these questions in a coherent and systematic way.

Students in this course will learn to: -Read and comprehend often difficult, abstract academic texts -Evaluate the strength of arguments for or against a position, and make arguments of their own -Think and collaborate with others, by engaging in discussion with others -Articulate a position, argument, etc. clearly and convincingly -Connect specific political debates to more general principles, and consider how these principles affect what positions one can rationally hold -Reason in a systematic way about one's responsibilities as a citizen and human being in a world that contains injustice

Prerequisites: No specific prior experience or knowledge is required. A willingness to engage with differing opinions and viewpoints in a careful and respectful manner, however, is absolutely essential.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPL0953

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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