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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2004

T C 357 • Political Absurdity: Theory And Practice

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39670 W
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
bur 436a

Course Description

Both common sense and the philosophical theory of absurdity give strong grounds for finding some aspects of United States policy on personal firearms and on addictive drugs absurd, even grotesquely absurd. The seminar will begin with philosophical readings and discussions to establish the absurdities in question, setting aside the practical prospects of eliminating them or even reducing them. Then it will turn to considering what entrenches the absurdities and what allows, even promotes, their increase. Finally, it will ask, what can be done to reduce or eliminate them, and how far can highlighting the absurdities in accordance with philosophical findings play a part in doing so?

About the Professor: David Braybrooke, who holds the Centennial Commission Chair in the Liberal Arts, is both a Professor of Government and a Professor of Philosophy. He is a U.S. citizen by birth and by naturalization a citizen of Canada, where he spent most of his career. His central concern is the way ethics works out in the choice of social politices, and this concern predominates in one of his most recent books, Meeting Needs. Another book, Philosophy of Social Science, answers to a secondary interest, as does a body of writings on Marxism, and a book, Logic on the Track of Social Change, by a research team that he led in Canada. His newest book, Natural Law Modernized, came out in October 2001. He is working on several more books, including a treatise on absurdity in politics.

Grading Policy

Two term papers (2200-2500) words each, written on a double deadline system, first in draft, then in revision. Members of the course will also take turns in writing up reports of the weekly discussions. Regular attendance is expected with a possible minor adjustment for outstanding participation or non-participation. Given regular attendance, the grade for the course will be calculated with a formula giving 75% weight to the average of the grades on the two term papers in their revised versions and 25% weight to the mandatory mid-term hour examination (or to an optional hour examination at the end of the term), with a possible minor adjustment for outstanding participation or non-participation.


Bergson on laughter, Selections from Camus, Ted Cohen's Jokes Michael Massing, The Fix Marc Mauer, The Race to Incarcerate Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig Gun Violence; Josh Sugarmann Every Handgun Is Aimed at You


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