History Of Political Thought


The aim of the program is for the students to a) understand the genesis of political liberalism; b) identify the themes of classical liberalism in its break with the political culture of Antiquity and of Medieval and Modern Europe; c) Compare the political theories of authors from the nineteenth century; d)  distinguish between the liberal and the republican thought, namely in what concerns different concepts of liberty connected with each one; e) identify the limits of the liberal political model in the 19th century with regard to the universality of civil and political rights; f) evaluate, in a reflexive way, the tensions associated with the liberal postulate of equality as universality; f) evaluate the inclusive and exclusionary dimensions of the above referred postulate. This program also aims at helping the students to get skills in the domain of the scientific research work, as well as skills related with the organization and the oral and written exposition of knowledge.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Cristina Nogueira da Silva


Weekly - 3

Total - 36

Teaching language



Not applicable


Amaral, Diogo Freitas do, História do Pensamento Político Ocidental, Coimbra, Almedina, 2016.

Berlin, Isaiah, Two Concepts of Liberty, in Liberty (ed. Henry Hardy), Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Blythe, J.M., Ideal Government and the Mixed Constitution in the Middle Ages, Princeton, 1992.

Costa, Pietro, Ciudadania, Madrid, Marcial Pons, 2006.

David Keyt and Fred D. Miller, A Companion to Aristotle?s Politics, Oxford and Cambridge, Blackwell, 1991.

Fioravanti, Maurizio, Constitucion, de la Antigüedad a nuestros días, Madrid, Editorial Trotta, 2001 (trad. do italiano).

Homem, António Pedro Barbas, A Lei da Liberdade, Cascais, Principia, 2001, Vol. I.

Jones, Gareth Stedman, Claeys, Gregory, eds., The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Political Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Manent, Pierre, História Intelectual do Liberalismo, Lisboa, Edições 70, 2015 (trad. do francês).

Pires, Diogo Aurélio, Maquiavel & Herdeiros, Lisboa, Círculo de Leitores, 2012.

Pitts, Jennifer, A turn to Empire. The rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France, Princeton, 2005.

Silva, Cristina Nogueira da, «Progresso e Civilização: povos não europeus no discurso liberal oitocentista», Estudos Comemorativos dos 10 Anos da Faculdade de Direito da UNL, Coimbra, Almedina, 2008, Vol. I.

Silva, Cristina Nogueira da, Constitucionalismo e Império: a cidadania no Ultramar português, Lisboa, Almedina, 2009.

Silva, Cristina Nogueira da, "Conceitos oitocentistas de cidadania. Liberalismo e igualdade", in Análise Social, Vol. XLIV (192), 2009.

Silva, Filipe Carreira da, Virtude e Democracia, Lisboa, ICS, 2004.

Skinner, Quentin, Liberty before Liberalism, Cambridge, C.U.P., 1998.

Skinner, Quentin, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002 (1º ed.: 1978), vols. I e II.

Renaut, Alain (dir), Histoire de la Philosophie Politique, Paris, Calmann-Levy, T. III.

Teaching method

Exposition of the course subject matter plus comments on original texts written by the authors selected in the program. Small units of research work composed by students on topics related to the contents of the programme or the completion of reading sheets regarding specific recommended books which are presented in a specific bibliography organised according to different topics included in the program. 

Evaluation method

The evaluation gets from the classification of the scientific research work or the reading sheet (30%) and a final written examination (70%).

Subject matter

1. Theoretical and methodological approaches: a cultural history of political ideas.

2. Negative freedom, positive freedom (Isaiah Berlin); Liberty before liberalism (Quentin Skinner).

3. Liberty and Equality (Michael Walzer).

4. The Mixed constitution in Aristotle; the mediaeval constitution and the primacy of political communities.

5. The sovereignty doctrines against the Mixed constitution.

6. Liberalism and the limits of sovereign power: Constitution, representative democracy, individualism, fundamental rights, utilitarianism. 

7. Political participation: from the census to the universal suffrage. Political liberty and administrative decentralization, civil associations, freedom of press, public opinion and the role of religion.

8. Nationality and citizenship in the 19th century; 8.Liberalism and the civil and political rights (men and women, literate and illiterate people, holders and non holders of property.

9.Liberalism and colonialism: metropolitan and overseas; colonizers and colonized.


Programs where the course is taught: