Scribner Seminar Program
The Idea of Freedom
Instructor(s): Michael Rohlf, Philosophy and Religion
What does it mean to be free, and why is freedom important? Questions about the nature and value of human freedom arise at multiple levels. For example, do we have free will, or are all of our actions ultimately determined by causes outside our control? What kind of freedom does moral responsibility require? Finally, what would a genuinely free society look like—that is, what social, political, and economic conditions must be satisfied if human beings are to live fully autonomous lives? In this seminar, students explore these interrelated questions about freedom from an interdisciplinary perspective. We study mainly historical and contemporary texts in philosophy and political theory. But students also distinguish and draw connections between these disciplines and others such as literature, women's studies, and economics. Authors studied include Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Reid, Kant, Rousseau, Hegel, Mill, Wollstonecraft, Aldous Huxley, Amartya Sen, and Barbara Ehrenreich.