The idea and identity of Europe as a geographical, political, and sociocultural unit has come under intense scrutiny in the opening decades of the twenty-first century. From the polarizing position of Post-Soviet Russia to the unfolding drama of Brexit and from the renascent tide of White nationalisms to the ongoing immigration “crisis” across the continent, the face of Europe as we know it today is changing at an unprecedented and even alarming rate. Drawing on insights from a variety of disciplines – including history, literature, law, and international relations – this seminar will engage different perspectives on what “Europe” means as a historical category, the consequences of contemporary socio- and geopolitical developments for this notion, and what the future of “Europe” as a concept may be. Centrally, this seminar will link these discussions with some of the most pressing contemporary European policy debates on nationalism and populism, immigration, the role of religion(s) in secular societies, and the future of the European Union while seeking to ground these issues in a longue durée understanding of European history and culture.
This seminar, co-taught by a philosopher and a political scientist, explores the concept of intentions and their significance in contemporary debates within both philosophy and international relations. In this interdisciplinary course, students first engage the philosophical foundations of intentions, focusing especially on their relation to actions and the question of whether groups can have intentions. Then, the course illuminates the central role of intentions in the study of international politics by exploring questions such as: how do states assess the intentions of their peers? Can they discern them with confidence? And what do the answers to these questions imply about the prospects for sustained cooperation in the international arena? In this way, the seminar achieves two things. First, students acquire insights into core philosophical disciplines such as theory of action and philosophy of mind as well as into the field of international relations theory. Second, students discover how debates within philosophy can crucially inform research in the social sciences.