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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Freedom and Health
Module Code NS234
School 38
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Mark Philbin
Semester 2: Mark Philbin
Autumn: Mark Philbin
Module TeachersMark Philbin
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only

In this module, we explore various meanings of freedom and their relevance to matters of health.

Learning Outcomes

1. Discuss the varied meanings of freedom and the rhetorical significance of their uses.
2. Explore the stoic insistence on 'freedom of assent' and how this relates to matters of personal relationships and mental health.
3. Consider the politics of anger in political life with particular reference to health and racial oppression.
4. Discuss John Stuart Mill's account of liberty of opinion and how this relates to matters of health communication.
5. Explore the relevance and limits of the 'harm principle' and the capabilities approach in relation to vaccination, intravenous drug use and coercive psychiatric injections.
6. Evaluate libertarian ideas of a minimal state by reference to crime and public health.
7. Consider neoliberal ideas of consumer freedom and markets as they relate to bodily modification.
8. Discuss Pettit's republican conception of non-domination and how this relates to work and health.
9. Explain the work of Thaler and Sunstein with particular reference to 'libertarian paternalism', 'nudge theory' and 'choice architecture'.
10. Explore ideas to do with governmentality, self-surveillance and disciplined subjectivities as they relate to health.
11. Consider ideas of freedom as a burden, responsibility for the meaning of one's life and the ideological uses of responsibilisation as they relate to health.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture24Examining arguments to do with freedom and health.
Fieldwork18Directed reading and Loop activities
Fieldwork10A video recorded small group discussion
Independent Study40Reading for the module.
Assignment Completion33Preparation of an essay.
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Freedom, health and wellbeing: an introduction
Introduction to the module; the varied meanings of freedom; rhetoric and freedom; the need for critical readings of freedom; the relations of freedom to health.

"What a wicked way to treat the girl who loves you!": Intimate relationships, mental health and stoic detachment
Stoicism and the passions, freedom of assent, the perils of attachments, stoicism and mental health

Anger, politics and freedom
The stoic critique of anger; the possibility of righteous anger; anger and health; Nussbaum and transitional anger; the place of anger in struggles against racial injustice.

"Fake medical news" and liberty of opinion
John Stuart Mill on liberty of opinion and truth; what to do about "fake medical news"?

The uses of the syringe: Bodily autonomy, capabilities and freedom
Vaccine uptake and hesitancy; debates on mandated vaccination; Mill's harm principle; coercion and injections- the case of psychiatry; freedom as capabilities and implications for vaccination

Crime, safety and the role of the state
Libertarians and the minimal state; the state as guarantor of protection against crime; crime and public health; vulnerability, crime and threat; rape and sexual harassment; preventing knife crime and the role of the state.

Markets and health
Markets and freedom- the neoliberal account; markets as providers for consumer wants; marketisation and the body as a project; the cultural creation of bodily wants; the limits of markets and the public good.

Non-domination and health: A republican perspective
Republicanism and non-domination; the state as guarantor of non-domination and basic liberties; status and health; workplaces as sites of domination; occupational health and domination.

"Putting the fruit at eye level.": Choice architecture, nudges and health
Thaler and Sunstein, libertarian paternalism and choice architecture; "nudges" and health.

Considering the "smart watch": Governmentality, self surveillance and unfreedom
Foucault, disciplinary power and panopticism; subjectivity, self surveillance and social control; "free subjects" and subjection.

"Condemned to be free"?: Existentialism, responsibility and responsibilisation
Sartre on "being before essence"; Frankl and responsibility for the meaning of one's own life; fear of freedom; critique of responsibilisation; ideology and responsibility.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
EssayA consideration of the claim that freedom is a burden and how this relates to health.60%Sem 2 End
Completion of online activitySmall group discussion and video submission on the stoic idea of "freedom of assent"30%Week 24
ParticipationAttendance and participation10%Every Week
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Epictetus: 2020, The Discourses of Epictetus and the Enchiridion (Deluxe Library Binding), Engage Classics, 1774760061
  • Michel Foucault: 1988, Technologies of the Self, Univ of Massachusetts Press, 0870235931
  • Viktor Emil Frankl: 2004, Man's Search for Meaning, Random House, 9781844132393
  • Erich Fromm: 1991, The Fear of Freedom, Psychology Press, 9780415065788
  • Mill, J.M.: 2017, On Liberty, Amazon Classics Edition, 978154232737
  • Robert Nozick: 1974, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, New York : Basic Books, 9780465002702
  • Martha C. Nussbaum: 2009, The Therapy of Desire, Princeton University Press, 9780691141312
  • Martha C. Nussbaum: 2013, Political Emotions, Harvard University Press, 9780674728288
  • Steven Lukes: 1986, Power, NYU Press, 9780814750315
  • Deborah Lupton: 2016, The Quantified Self, Polity, 978150950060
  • Martha C. Nussbaum: 2016, Anger and Forgiveness, Oxford University Press, 9780199335879
  • Nussbaum, M.: 2011, Creating Capabilities: The human development approach, Harvard University Press, Cambridge,
  • Susie Orbach: 2010, Bodies, Profile, 9781847651839
  • Philip Pettit: 2014, Just Freedom: A Moral Compass for a Complex World, W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393063974
  • Jean-Paul Sartre: 2006, Existentialism and Humanism, 2nd, Methuen Publishing, 9780413776396
  • Seneca: 2012, Anger, mercy, revenge, University of Chicago Press, 978022674842
  • Richard H. Thaler,Cass R. Sunstein: 2008, Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness, Yale University Press, 9780141040011
  • Irvin D. Yalom: 1980, Existential Psychotherapy, Basic Books, 9780465021475
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
AFUAge Friendly University Programme
BHSBachelor of Science in Health & Society

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