Worldly Philosophers of Capitalism, Democracy and Development

Credits: 
4.0
Term: 
Winter
Course Description: 

This course, open to MA and PhD students, introduces participants into the life and work of four major thinkers of the XXth century, Albert O. Hirschman, Alexander Gerschenkron, Karl Polanyi, and Friedrich A. Hayek, whose thoughts remain influential and are widely debated even today.

The course does not offer a full account of these intellectual oeuvres but focuses on a few grand themes, such as the compatibility and contradiction between capitalism and democracy; the mechanisms causing or preventing economic and political decline; the paths and pitfalls of development in capitalism’s core and periphery; and the political power of ideas.

Learning Outcomes: 

The course aims to convince students about the importance of genuine direct engagement with classic thought, help them make their own discoveries, and find their own ways of „standing on the shoulders of giants.” For example, one reviewer noted that „Hirschman’s work changes how you see the world. It illuminates yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His categories become your categories.”

Assessment: 

Presence and active participation in in-class discussions / absence only in case of illness substantiated by medical documents. (15% of final grade)
1 in-class presentation (20 minutes). The presentation must be based on a brief (max 750 words) paper or a powerpoint presentation, and reflect on one of the class topics. Papers and presentations may: a) point to connections between the required and recommended readings, b) offer criticism, c) highlight the readings’ relevance for a current problem, or/and d) ask one related question to be discussed with the participants of the course. (15% of final grade)
One in-class closed book mid-term exam (60 minutes). The exam will test familiarity with the key terms and concepts covered by the required readings during the weeks 1 to 6. (35% of final grade)
One in-class closed book final exam (60 minutes). The exam will test familiarity with the key terms and concepts covered by the required readings during the weeks 7 to 11 (35% of final grade)

Prerequisites: 

-