What Justifies a Government?

What Justifies a Government?
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What Justifies The State?
Part of the Series: Examined Life Series
What Justifies the State? asks whether the state is merely an artificial arrangement we construct to make life better, as social contact theorists claim, or whether it's a natural organism through which people achieve their potential.
Should Government Exist?
This section of the course considers the big question: How should society be organized? Here, perform a thought experiment that casts into doubt the moral justification of government. Then probe more deeply into this view, called philosophical anarchism, which has a spectrum of positions from benign to violent.
How Big Should Government Be?
Explore three theories on the proper size of government, focusing on economic regulation and delivery of services. Adam Smith saw a minimal role, Karl Marx envisioned total control, and John Maynard Keynes believed that major government intervention was necessary under certain conditions.
Does The End Justify The Means?
Part of the Series: Examined Life Series
Does the End Justify the Means? looks at utilitarianism against the backdrop of a construction project with environmental import and asks what is intrinsically valuable.
Can Mystical Experience Justify Belief?
Look at the phenomenon of religious experiences, pondering whether such events justify belief. Find that practically all religions have religious experiences, but the beliefs they lead to can be radically different. Can "feeling the touch of God," like Jules in Pulp Fiction, justify religious belief?
What Is Philosophy?
Part of the Series: Examined Life Series
What is Philosophy? combines two classic models -- Plato's Parable of the Cave and the character of Socrates -- with contemporary philosophers' commentary on the subject.
What Is Art?
Part of the Series: Examined Life Series
What is Art? looks at several views on the nature of art, and asks how these have been affected by changes in artistic styles and techniques. Danto, Duchamp, Lyotard and others are interviewed on the significance of contemporary conceptual art.
What Is Truth?
Now begin a section of the course devoted to the big question: What is knowledge? Start with the problem of defining truth. Investigate three philosophical theories that attempt to pin down this elusive concept: pragmatism, coherentism, and the correspondence theory.
What Is the Best Way to Gain Knowledge?
Put empiricism to the test as the best way to acquire knowledge. Study the ideas of John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume, together with the response of Immanuel Kant, before settling on the most effective route to understanding the world as it is.
Do We Know What Knowledge Is?
Address a famous problem concerning the nature of knowledge, posed by contemporary philosopher Edmund Gettier. Use different thought experiments to test the traditional definition of knowledge. Discover firsthand the bafflement and enlightenment that comes from doing philosophy.
What Is God Like?
Traditionally, if God exists, God is perfect--God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. See how these three attributes are likely inconsistent with each another. Focus in particular on the difficulties with St. Anselm's argument for a perfect God, and look at modern proposals for redefining our conception of God.
What Does It Mean to Be Free?
Some philosophers, called compatibilists, argue that if we understand free will correctly, the idea that humans are free becomes defensible, leaving room for moral responsibility. Evaluate this stance, and close by considering the consequences of conceding that we don't have free will in the traditional sense.