GOV 347L • Introduction to Political Theory
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
This course provides an introduction to some of the central questions and debates in the history of political thought. What is the purpose of politics - security, self-determination, the ennoblement of the soul? What is the meaning of liberty? What is the nature of the best regime - or does such a thing exist? What is the meaning of justice? What justifies the authority of government, or what justifies the rule of some persons over others? Are the same things that are good for individuals good for political communitites, and how are the conflicts between them to be adjucated? What does the polity owe to its citizens and what do citizens owe to their polity and to one another? What motivates citizens to honor their political obligations and to participate in political life - self-interest, or virtue, or something else? What are "rights" and how are they related to political liberty and to obligation? Finally, what is the nature of liberal democracry, the political regime that prevails in the United States today? What are its potential dangers or disadvantages and what are its strengths?
Three 4-5 page critical essays 3 in-class exams Class participation
Plato and Aristophanes, Four Texts on Socrates Aristotle, The Politics St. Augustine, The City of God Against the Pagans Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan John Locke, Two Treatises of Government John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration Rousseau, The Discourses and Other Early Writings Rousseau, On the Social Contract Karl Marx, The Marx-Engels Reader John Stuart Mill, Mill Course Packet