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About dirtying and washing hands in politics

General data

Course ID: 3501-BURP20-S Erasmus code / ISCED: 08.1 / (0223) Philosophy and ethics
Course title: About dirtying and washing hands in politics Name in Polish: O brudzeniu i umywaniu rąk w polityce
Department: Faculty of Philosophy
Course groups: (in Polish) Seminaria
ECTS credit allocation (and other scores): 6.00
Language: Polish
Type of course:

elective seminars

Prerequisites (description):

(in Polish) Znajomość filozofii na poziomie podstawowym


(in Polish) w sali

Short description:

The topic of the seminar will be the problem of "dirty hands" in politics, i.e. the relationship between ethics and politics; does the nature of the policy justify iniquity? We will analyze this issue in the light of texts in the field of history of philosophy (Machiavelli, Hobbes, Weber, Weil, Arendt, Agamben, Foucault) as well as applied ethics (Walzer, Nagel, Coady, Lakoff).

Full description:

The theme of the seminar is - generally speaking - the relationship between politics and ethics. We will be particularly interested in the broad, philosophical context of the practical problem, which is the issue of "dirty hands" in politics. What is this dirt? Does the nature of politics justify wrongdoing? What did Pilate's gesture mean? Do political realism and political praxeology eliminate moral arguments? We will analyze modern and contemporary texts in the field of political philosophy (Machiavelli, Weber, Agamben, Foucault, Arendt, Weil, Butler), as well as works on applied ethics (Nagel, Walzer, Coady, Lakoff). We will look at the problem of "dirty hands" in times of peace and war, in history in modern times. We will wonder if there is such a thing as political purity.


Agamben, G. „Piłat i Jezus”

Arendt, H. „Eichman w Jerozlimie”

Baran, M. „Znaczenie wojny. Pytając o wojnę sprawiedliwą”

Butler, J. „Żądanie Antygony, rodzina między życiem a śmiercią”

Douglas, M. „Czystość i zmaza”

„Etyka wojny. Antologia”

Foucault, M. „Omnes et singulatim przyczynek do krytyki politycznego rozumu”, w: Filozofia, Historia, polityka

Foucault, M. „Trzeba bronić społeczeństwa (wykład z 21 stycznia)

La Boetie „Rozprawa o dobrowolnej niewoli”

Lakoff, G. „Moralna polityka. Jak myślą liberałowie i konserwatyści”

Machiavelli „Książę”

McMahan, J. „Etyka zabijania. Problemy na obrzeżach życia”

Nagel, T. „Wojna i masakra”, w „Pytania ostateczne”

Nielsen, K. „Nie istnieje dylemat brudnych rąk”

Sloterdijk, P. Krytyka cynicznego rozumu” (cz. IV o cynizmie w polityce)

Walzer, M. „Działalność polityczna: problem brudnych rąk”

Weber, M. „Polityka i powołanie”

Weil, S. „Rozważania na temat posłuszeństwa i wolności”

Williams, B. „Polityka i charakter moralny”

Learning outcomes:

Acquired knowledge:

- student knows the various models of relations between politics and ethics and their philosophical context

Acquired skills:

- student can critically analyze the texts processed during the seminar,

- student can problematize the discussed questions and take up one's own position as well as present one's own arguments in the discussion;

- student can describe problems related to the issue of "dirty hands".

Acquired social competences:

- student is able to cooperate in a group and listen to others

- student is able to express one’s own opinions.

Assessment methods and assessment criteria:

Activity, final essay

Number of absences: 3

Classes in period "Academic year 2020/21" (in progress)

Time span: 2020-10-01 - 2021-06-13
Choosen plan division:

see course schedule
Type of class: Seminar, 60 hours, 20 places more information
Coordinators: Magdalena Środa
Group instructors: Magdalena Środa
Students list: (inaccessible to you)
Examination: Course - Grading
Seminar - Grading
Course descriptions are protected by copyright.
Copyright by University of Warsaw.