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Libertarians believe in at most a strictly limited state. Throughout the history of political philosophy, this has not been the dominant view. Why do political thinkers think that obedience to the state is justified? What rights, if any, do people have? Do any of the thinkers lend support to libertarian themes? These are among the question we will explore in this course.
Political Thought Through the Ages will be based on readings from the great political philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. We’ll also consider libertarian arguments against the state, advanced by Lysander Spooner and Murray Rothbard. It will come as no surprise that I accept these libertarian arguments, but we’ll look at what critics of the libertarian viewpoint have said as well.