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Regular version of the site
Russian Sociological Review: Social Order and Art Sources of Imaginations

Edited by: A. F. Filippov, N. Farkhatdinov.

Higher School of Economics, National Research University, 2020.

Georg Simmel and Semyon Frank: from Kant to Lebensphilosophie

Aleksandr Begrambekov.

Russian Sociological Review. 2022. Vol. 21. No. 4. P. 57-81.

Book chapter
The State in the International Legal Order

Alexander Filippov.

In bk.: The Future of the State. NY: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2020. Ch. 2. P. 39-64.

Working paper
Abductive theory of meaning

Shumilina V.

Humanities. HUM. Basic Research Programme, 2020

Public Choice Theory

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Delivered by:
School of Philosophy
Compulsory course
2 year, 1, 2 module


Course Syllabus


This is a compulsory course, based on knowledge and competences which were provided by the following disciplines: ● Philosophy. ● Political Science ● General Sociology ● Economics The following knowledge and competences are needed to study the discipline: ● The basic skills of philosophical analysis ● The basic knowledge of the foundations of society and political state ● The knowledge of the basics of economics and rational choice theory
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • This is an interdisciplinary course bringing together social choice theory, mathematics, ethics, political philosophy, political science. The focus of the course is social or collective choice. We start from rational choice theory, game theory and collective decision making and move in the direction of practical implications such as political coercion, war and social ethics. We end up with the practical problem of national self-determination, which brings together all the issues mentioned above.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • The understanding of the nature of war as both a collective choice on the level of a decision to wage war and a collective choice of how a war is waged at each of the stages of its developvent
  • The basic understanding of the nature of the social coercion and the methods of coercing in the society.
  • The basic understanding of the rational choice theory and the basics of the collective choice theory.
  • The basic understanding of how ethics lays the foundations of the possible collective choice. Knowledge of the basic ethics theories and the mechanisms of the moral choice
  • Knowledge of the major theories of justice and the mechanisms of their implementations of the social choice
  • Since domestic legislation is the major instrument of the collective action, it is necessary to understand how the legal system works facilitating collective decision making and at the same time is being subject to the general will. The students are supposed to understand major theories of the philosophy of law
  • National self-determination is the most dramatic case of social choice. The students are supposed to know the basic theories of self-determination and be able to deliberate on the possible cases of secession and inner self-determination
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Reason, Rationality, Game Theory and Collective Decision Making
    Choice and desire. Reasonableness. Patterns of choices. Choice menu. Prizes. Joint choice. Reasonable choices. Conditions of reasonableness. Pair wise choices. Contraction condition and expansion condition. Preference relation. Rational choices. Revelation condition. Preference ordering. Transitivity. Utility. Ordinal utility. Utility maximization. Framing paradox. Game under uncertainty. Gambles. Degenerate gambles. Compound gamble. Probability gambles. Jumps in preference. Continuity condition and substitution condition. The concept of expected utility. Cardinal utility. Allais paradox. State gambles. Subjective expected utility. Full subjective expected utility. State dependent subjective utility. Ellsberg paradox. Nozick’s paradox. Attitudes to risk. Expected value and certainty equivalent. Fair gambles and favorable gambles. St. Petersburg example. The general idea of the game. Common knowledge and mutual knowledge. Plausible response. Chain of reasoning. Individual rationality versus collective rationality. The concept of domination. Undominated actions and dominated actions. Iterative deletion of dominated actions. Sustainable action. Nash equilibrium. The settings of group choice. Acceptable constitutions. Borda rule. Independence condition and neutrality condition. Unanimity condition. Responsiveness condition. Reasonable constitutions. Anonymity condition. Majority rule. Patriarchy. Rationality and dictatorship. Independence and unanimity of the dictatorial constitution. Arrow theorem. Impossibility of rationality, independence, unanimity and non-dictatorship.
  • Political State, Coercion, Power and Social Choice
    Political State and Coercion. Interpersonal and institutional contexts of political coercion. Coercive state actions. Coercion and complex systems of rules. The possible justification of coercion and utility gains. Force coercion and conditional threats. History of coercion. Aquinas. Hobbes, Locke, Kant. John Stuart Mill. 20th Century views to 1969. Contemporary philosophical accounts of coercion. Nozick and a new approach to coercion. Threats and Baselines. Moralized vs. non-moralized baselines. Coercive Offers. Non-baseline approaches. Uses for thought about coercion. The effect of coercion on coercee responsibility. Wrongfulness of coercion. Coercion and freedom. Political/legal theory and coercion. Revolution and rebellion. Conceptual Matters. Some Major Figures’ Views on the Morality of Revolution. Distinctive Features of Revolutionary Wars. Revolutionary Jus ad bellum, Revolutionary Jus in bello. Terrorism. Terror, war and violence. The nature of terrorism. The distinction of terror and terrorism. Terrorism as communicative action. Game theoretical approach to terrorism. Terrorism and the major forms of violence. Terrorism as fact and value. The subjective nature of “terroristic” labelling. The classification of terrorism. Affective terrorism. Traditional terrorism. Value-rational terrorism. Rational terrorism. Post modern (global terrorism)
  • Law and Social Choice
    The nature of jurisprudence. Descriptive, critical and normative legal theory. The rational techniques of philosophy and the sphere of law. The clarification of concepts and reexamination of values. Analytical jurisprudence and Normative jurisprudence. Rational criticism and its application to the sphere of law. The origins of natural law theory in philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Absolute values. Intuitive apprehension of values. The role of reason. Justice and its inherent connection with law. Human nature as the source of law and justice. Cicero. Roman Law. The relations of law and morality, morality and nature. The systematic statement of natural law theory in philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. Eternal law, natural law, divine law and positive law. Inherent inspiration to good. The idea of positivism. The major stages of positivism. The combination of empiricism and rationalism. The idea that a legal system is a ‘closed logical system. The separation of law as it laid down from what is should be morally. The method of suspending moral judgement. The classical school of English legal positivism. Jeremy Bentham. Demystification of common law. Contemporary legal positivism. Its three theses: The separability thesis. The pedigree thesis, The discretion thesis. Hans Kelzen and his “pure” theory of law. Kantian background. The separation of sein and sollen. Law as a system of norms. The idea of “Grundnorm”. Its highest level of generality. Lasting effectiveness of the basic norm and its assumed validity. The formal nature of the basic norm. Value-free account of law. Essential individualism of legal positivism. The ideological link with earl capitalism. Neutral idea of validity. Monopolization of force as the only function of law. The critique of the model of rules. Non-rule standards in law. The difference of legal principles and rules. The integration of law and morality. The unity of value. The possibility to go beyond rules and apply to principles and policies in legal cases. Appeal to moral principles as the central part of judicial decision making
  • Political Justice as Collective Choice
    The conception of justice of the classical utilitarianism. Bentham on utility and hedonism. Welfairism and Consequentialism. The ideal of Equality. Psychological hedonism and the principal of the maximum happiness for the greatest number. Axiological hedonism. Mill on justice, utility and rights. Act utilitarianism and Rule utilitarianism. The role of distributive justice. Utilitarian nature of socialism. The utilitarian transformation of the liberal idea. The critique of the classical utilitarianism. The further transformation of utilitarianism in the works of Moore and Sidgwick. The conception of justice of the utilitarianism of the rational preference satisfaction. Desire, preference, value and utility. Hare and the idea of the utility of preference satisfaction. Pareto optimality. Kaldor-Hicks efficiency. The utility of economical interaction. Harsanyi. Utility and rational choice theory. Liberal critique of the utilitarian justice. Utilitarianism does not take into consideration the mode of distribution of goods. It does not consider the differences of the individuals. It does not consider the nature of the satisfied desire. Intuitively unacceptable practical results of utilitarian recommendations. The advantages and drawbacks of the utilitarian justice. Utilitarianism as a practical philosophy of radical reforms. The law of the reduction of the final value. Utilitarianism as a champion for social equality. Utilitarianism and game theory. Negative utilitarianism. Rawls and the revival of deontological liberalism. Hypothetical choice and the veil of ignorance. The basic social institutions as the subject of justice. The methodology of Rawls. The method of hypothetical contract. Reflective equilibrium. Rational choice theory. Rational autonomy of the parties. Maximin strategy. The principles of justice. Equal liberty. Difference principle and fair equality of opportunity. The institutes of the just society. Three stages of justice. Principles, constitution and legislation of justice. The problems of economical justice. Two principles of justice and the problem of stability. The just society as a stable society. The right and the good and the principle of Aristotle in the implementation of social justice. Deontology of right and teleology of good in a unique balance of two principles of justice. The criticism. The criticism of the method of the hypothetical contractualism. Utilitarianism of Rawls. The practical advantages of the theory and the possibility of its implementation
  • War as Social Choice
    The nature of war. The normative attitudes to war in philosophy and religion: Pacifism, Realism and Militarism. Just war theory as philosophical and religious doctrine. Theoretical development of the doctrine from St. Augustine to Walzer. The normative principles of war in philosophy and religions. Jus in bello and Jus ad Bellum. Holy War in Christian and Islamic tradition. The contemporary transformation of war. The threat of absolute war. War and normativity. The normative nature of war. Military virtues and values. Cohesion. Military and the state. Absolute pacifism. The unreasonableness of absolute pacifism. Religious absolute pacifism. Pacifism of Tolstoy. Contingent pacifism. The classification of contingent pacifisms. Political pacifism. Individual pacifism. Nuclear pacifism. Pacifism and feminism. Pacifism and contemporary political movements. Pacifism and the contemporary left movement. Pacifism and environmentalism. Religious pacifism. Pacifism in sectarian Christianity. Pacifism of Quakers. Pacifism in Buddism. Militarism. Absolute militarism of some ancient cultures. War as an way of life and an end in itself. Military values. Kant on sublimity of war. Hegel on virtues of war and degeneration of peace. Militarism of Mussolini. Contingent militarism. Early realism. Thucydides. On Peloponnesian war. The general approach of Thucydides. Melian dialogue. Realism and early modernity. Machiavelli and Hobbes. Machiavelli on war. Hobbes on state of war, prerogative and international relations. Realism of the 20th century. Realism in international politics of the 20th century. Henry Kissinger. American realism of Niebuhr and Morgenthau. Moral man and immoral society. Politics among nations. The struggle for power and peace. Pessimism. Contemporary realism and contemporary politics. The emergence of global sovereign. The transformation of realism through just war theory
  • Ethics and Moral Choice
    The meaning of the terms ‘morals’ and ‘ethics’, ‘good’, ‘right’ and ‘ought’. Moral Psychology. Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development. The difference of prescriptive and descriptive statements. The history of morality. The sociology of morals. Religious and secular ethics and morality. Positive law and the need of moral foundations of legality. Etiquette. Customs. Customary and reflective morality. The difference of morals and rationality. Traits of moral principles: Prescriptivity, Universalizability, Overridingness, Publicity, Practicability. The purpose of morality. The structure of morality. Moral Rules, Principles, Virtues and Actions. Metaethics, Normative morality, Applied ethics, Theoretical ethics. Ethical relativism and objectivism. Egoism and altruism. Psychological Egoism. The paradox of Egoism. The meaning of metaethics. Metaethical intuitionism. Other forms of intuitionisms. Emotivism and prescriptivism. Naturalism. Metaethics and morals. Reportive definition. Stipulative definition. Theoretical definitions: Analytical and ostensive definition. The logic of moral reasoning. Moral Relativism. Egoism. Virtue. Religious Ethics. Ethics of Conscience. Convention. Legalism. The Natural Law. Elitism. Deontology. Bureaucratic Ethics. Particularism. Sentimentalism. Utilitarianism. Relations between fact and value. The debate about naturalism. Non-cognitivism. Cognitivism. The classification of the main approaches in analytic ethics
  • National Self-determination
    Self-determination as a value. Self-determination as a hybrid principle. The triple nature of self-determination. The merging of values of liberalism, nationalism and international law. The value of individual autonomy, liberty and equal respect for persons as the core values of liberalism. The value of collectivity as the core value of nationalism. The value of order and predicament as the core value of international law. The troubled reconciliation of liberalism, nationalism and international law in self-determination. Democracy and self-determination. Self-determination and justice. Self-determination and rational choice. Self-determination as the case of institutional and non-institutional reasoning. Historical transformations of the principle. Self-determination and Westphalia Doctrine. The emergence of nationalism in the 19th century. Democracy and self-government as a case of self-determination. The claim for Self-determination after the First World War. Self-determination as anti-colonialism. The contemporary implications. Who is the self? Self-determination of states and Westphalia Doctrine. The idea of popular sovereignty. Three conceptions of the people. Ethnic conception. National conception. Territorial conception. The possible conflict of conception. Self-determination and the rights of states. Internal and External self-determination. Self-determination as the defense of political status quo. Internal self-determination. Internal self-determination. External self-determination. Normative theories of succession. The idea of justified succession. Choice theories (Philpott and Copp). Just-cause theories (Buchanan's and Norman). National self-determination theories (Miller and Nielsen). The recent doubts in the validity of the principle. Destabilization of international state system and possible breakup of the states (Ernest Gellner). The danger of proliferation of separatist claims. The language of hostility. The law of peoples and the possibility of international justice. International law as a primitive legal system (Kelzen). National Self-defense.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Homework
  • non-blocking Essay
  • non-blocking Research paper
    20 thousand characters by the end of the second module
  • non-blocking Oral exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.25 * Essay + 0.25 * Homework + 0.25 * Oral exam + 0.25 * Research paper


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Binmore, K. G. (2005). Natural Justice. New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=215530
  • Blackorby,Charles, Bossert,Walter, & Donaldson, D. J. (2005). Population Issues in Social Choice Theory, Welfare Economics, and Ethics. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.b.cup.cbooks.9780521532587
  • Caliman, M. L. (1983). THE POLITICS OF LAW: A PROGRESSIVE CRITIQUE, edited by David Kairy. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.AC4500A4
  • CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ. (2017). On War. [S.l.]: BookRix. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1469871
  • Dworkin, R. (2013). Taking Rights Seriously. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=602553
  • Gaertner, W. (2009). A Primer in Social Choice Theory: Revised Edition. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.b.oxp.obooks.9780199565306
  • Grayling, A. C. (2017). War : An Enquiry. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=1494428
  • Lebow, R. N. (2010). Why Nations Fight : Past and Future Motives for War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=337696
  • Sen, A. (1999). On Ethics and Economics. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.b.oxp.obooks.9780195627619
  • Séverine Deneulin, & Jhonatan Clausen. (2019). Collective Choice and Social Welfare by Amartya Sen: A review essay with reference to development in Peru. Development Policy Review, (4), 564. https://doi.org/10.1111/dpr.12376

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Beckerman, W. (2017). Economics As Applied Ethics : Fact and Value in Economic Policy (Vol. Second edition). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1527286
  • Brams, S. J. (1979). Rational Behavior and Bargaining Equilibrium in Games and Social Situations. By Harsanyi John C.. (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1977. Pp. x + 314. $29.95.). American Political Science Review, (01), 210. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v73y1979i01p210.211.15
  • Buchanan, A. E. (2004). Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination : Moral Foundations for International Law. Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=215591
  • Doron, G., & Sened, I. (2001). Political Bargaining : Theory, Practice and Process. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=309778
  • Ethics and the Market: Insights from Social Economics. (2011). Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsnar&AN=edsnar.oai.pure.rug.nl.publications.1c9ac179.cef4.48a8.ab22.bae628e104e2
  • Foucault, M. (2013). The Order of Things : An Archaeology of Human Sciences (Vol. Unabridged). New York: Vintage. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=737821
  • Fukuyama, F. (2011). The Origins of Political Order : From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution. London: Profile Books. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=590165
  • Gat, A. (2006). War in Human Civilization. Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=186606
  • Gauthier, D. P. (1986). Morals by Agreement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=264727
  • Gensler, H. J. (2018). Ethics : A Contemporary Introduction (Vol. Unabridged). Nueva York [Estados Unidos]: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1650434
  • Goodrich, P. (1986). Reading the Law : a Critical Introduction to Legal Method and Techniques. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.C185E911
  • Hausman, D. M. (2012). Preference, Value, Choice, and Welfare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=432747
  • Hepburn, A., & Potter, J. (2011). Threats: power, family mealtimes, and social influence. The British Journal Of Social Psychology, 50(Pt 1), 99–120. https://doi.org/10.1348/014466610X500791
  • Jovanović Slađana. (2005). Ian Ward: Introduction to critical legal theory, Cavendish Publishing, London, 2004, str. 215. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.862276F8
  • Korth, C. (2009). Fairness in Bargaining and Markets. Berlin: Springer. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=288002
  • Lamb, A. (2013). Ethics and the Laws of War : The Moral Justification of Legal Norms. Hoboken: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=699057
  • List, C., & Pettit, P. (2015). Group Agency: The Possibility, Design, and Status of Corporate Agents. Australia, Australia/Oceania: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.C727187D
  • Little, I. M. D. (2003). Ethics: Economics, & Politics: Principles of Public Policy. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.b.oxp.obooks.9780199268726
  • Mahnken, T. G. (2018). Causes of War: Power and the Roots of Conflict. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.D4A6084
  • Miller, D. (1995). On Nationality. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=264750
  • Misgeld, D. (1997). The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Book). Canadian Journal of Sociology, 22(2), 278. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=sih&AN=10430130
  • Nine, C. (2012). Global Justice and Territory (Vol. 1st ed). Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=466157
  • Nozick, R. (2013). Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Basic Books. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=677086
  • Pettit, P. (1996). Freedom as antipower. Ethics, 106(3), 576. https://doi.org/10.1086/233648
  • Pettit, P. (2015). A Theory of Freedom: From the Psychology to the Politics of Agency. Australia, Australia/Oceania: Polity Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.6AE58674
  • Ploug, T. (2009). Ethics in Cyberspace : How Cyberspace May Influence Interpersonal Interaction. Dordrecht: Springer. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=277286
  • Shaun P. Young. (2013). The Right to Justification: Elements of a Constructivist Theory of Justice by Rainer Forst . New York : Columbia University Press , 2011 . 351pp., £34.00, ISBN 978 0 231 14708 8. Political Studies Review, (1), 84. https://doi.org/10.1111/10.1111/psr.2013.11.issue-1
  • THEUERKAUF, U. (2009). The Politics of Reconciliation in Multicultural Societies by Will Kymlicka and Bashir Bashir (eds.). Nations & Nationalism, 15(2), 361–362. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8129.2009.00408.x
  • Waldron, J. (2004). Terrorism and the Uses of Terror. Journal of Ethics, 8(1), 5–35. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JOET.0000012250.78840.80
  • Walzer, M. (2004). Arguing About War. New Haven [Ct.]: Yale University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=187686
  • Werner, R. (1987). Nuclear Deterrence and the Limits of Moral Theory. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.E6A378BA