University of Pittsburgh, Summer Term 1998
Ben Eggleston, Instructor
Philosophy 0320—CRN 01205: Social Philosophy (writing)
mailbox: CL 1001—office: CL 1428E
Mondays, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., in CL 340
office hours: Sundays and Mondays, 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.


I. Description

Almost everyone lives in society. But what is society? How should society be understood? How does living in society change the way people think and act? How does it change the way they ought to think and act? How should it be set up, organized, and governed? We will consider these and related questions through an introductory survey of influential works by writers such as Hobbes, Rousseau, Mill, Freud, and Huxley. 

II. Aims

This course’s aims include (1) introducing you to the field of social philosophy, (2) familiarizing you with some important works with implications for social philosophy and (3) developing your abilities to argue, both in conversation and in writing, about social-philosophical questions and attempts to answer them.

Because this course has been specially designated as a writing course, extra emphasis will be placed on developing your abilities to appreciate and to employ some of the the distinctive conventions and strategies of philosophical writing. It will be presupposed that you have mastered the basics of English composition.

To advance these aims, you will be required to read certain texts, to participate in class discussions, and to complete some written assignments.

III. Books

The following five books are sold by the Pitt Book Center. Although each of these books contains required reading, other suitable editions of the same texts, or other books containing suitable editions of the required reading, may be used instead. For a list of the required reading, see the schedule, below.

Thomas Hobbes
Hackett Publishing Company, 1994
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Basic Political Writings
Hackett Publishing Company, 1987
Aldous Huxley
Brave New World
HarperPerennial, 1989
John Stuart Mill
On Liberty
Hackett Publishing Company, 1978
Sigmund Freud
Civilization and Its Discontents
W. W. Norton & Company, 1961

IV. Schedule

We will meet eleven times from May 11 to July 27, on Mondays in room 340 of the Cathedral of Learning. Due to a university holiday, we will not meet on May 25. Class will start at 5:45 p.m on May 11 and at 6 p.m. thereafter, finishing by 9 p.m. Following is a list of the reading assignments, each of which must be done before the class on the day on which it is listed.

reading assignment
May 11
none (introductory class)
May 18
Hobbes, Leviathan
• “The Introduction” (by Hobbes, not the editor)
• chapter VI, paragraphs 1–7 and paragraphs 49–54
• chapters XIII–XV, through paragraph 15 of chapter XV
May 25
none (no class)
June 1
Hobbes, Leviathan
• chapters XVII–XVIII
• chapter XXI
June 8
Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
June 15
Huxley, Brave New World, chapters I–IX
June 22
Huxley, Brave New World, chapters X–XVIII
June 29
Mill, On Liberty, chapters I–III
July 6
Mill, On Liberty, chapters IV–V
July 13
Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, chapters I–V
July 20
Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, chapters VI–VIII
July 27
none (final exam)

V. Requirements

In addition to reading the assigned texts on time, you will be required to take quizzes and an exam, to write papers, and to attend class and to participate in class discussions.

  1. Five quizzes will be given in class.
  2. You will be required to write six papers.
  3. A comprehensive final exam will be given in class on July 27. If you miss the final exam, then you should contact me as soon as possible, and not later than July 31, to arrange to take a make-up exam.
  4. Attendance will be taken, and discussions will be held, in every class.

Final grades will be determined by these factors. The papers will be 50 percent more important than the quizzes (and class participation) and the final exam; and the quizzes (and class participation) will be 50 percent more important than the final exam. So, 60 percent of the final grades will be determined by papers, 24 percent by quizzes and class participation, and 16 percent by the final exam. The papers will be weighted as follows: 6 percent for each of the three reaction papers, 18 percent for the analysis paper that doesn’t get revised, 10 percent for the analysis paper that does get revised, and 14 percent for the revision.

It is possible that these requirements will change, as may other plans reported on this syllabus. Revisions will be stated on the World Wide Web site at the address given above. For more about the Web site, see “VI. Additional Resources,” below.

VI. Additional Resources

I’ll have office hours in area E of room 1428 in the Cathedral of Learning on Sundays and Mondays from 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. and will be available at other times by appointment.

Furthermore, the World Wide Web site at the address given above includes links to several useful documents, including

It also includes links to independent sites related to the authors and texts of this course.