Close Menu
View Course Sections

Course Description

This course will give students a serious grounding in philosophical theory grounding concepts and principles that guide political action: rights, equality, justice, freedom, autonomy, resistance, and revolution. Part I will be devoted to the historical content and philosophical justification of these concepts in sources in nature, right and law. We'll start with the naturalistic moral psychology of human nature (in Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Nietzsche). We'll examine what motivates people: Do people naturally tend toward doing evil? Are they unavoidably, inherently selfish and self-interested? We'll contrast this naturalist approach with rationalist philosophers, who relate basic political concepts and principles to right and law (Kant, Hegel, and the young Marx). Especially in connection with questions: What is a person? Does the concept of a person limit what you can do to them? What is the difference between acquired rights v. intrinsic human rights? Is freedom a right, or something
you have to earn, lose, or give up?

Part II will go beyond the myth of philosophy as an out of date academic exercise, which has outlived its usefulness especially in current times of crisis. We'll bring the philosophical theory we've covered in Part I to bear on pressing challenges facing citizens of democratic societies today. We'll explore how these philosophical ideologies have caused upheavals in intellectual history, in way that speaks to urgency of our revolutionary times. In particular, the impact of these philosophical ideas on real world events and institutional practices; how philosophical ideas have directly influenced the conceptual and institutional dimensions of revolutions; and the use (and abuse) of philosophical ideas to bring about revolutionary, society-wide changes in moral and political attitudes.

This is an online/virtual synchronous course that follows the published schedule of course meetings and requires attendance at all sessions. Tufts virtual courses are designed to provide high-quality, flexible, and interactive courses to Tufts and visiting students. For more information about virtual course policies and expectations, please visit

This section is open to high school students who are rising 11th or 12th grade students. High School students will be prompted to submit an additional application after enrollment including: a high school transcript, letter of recommendation, parental permission, and other required consent forms.

Basic Enrollment Requirements: None.

Refund Policy: The refund policy for Courses at Tufts offerings is dependent on the offering type: whether the offering is a course, workshop or short course, or in-demand offering. Please refer to the section details to confirm the type of offering as well as any exceptions to the standard refund policy. The refund policies for each offering type are viewable here:

Remission Eligible: Yes; first day of term; all university policies apply.

Affiliated With:

School of Arts & Sciences