GOV 335M • Morality and Politics
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
What is human virtue, and what is its relationship to politics? This course will introduce students to the debate that has taken place on this subject among great thinkers over the course of centuries. Specifically, the course will explore the competing viewpoints of ancient and modern authors, focusing on Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. Aristotle famously maintains that moral virtue is the proper aim of life, both for the individual and for the community. The second half of the course will be devoted to examining the break with Aristotle begun by Machiavelli and continued, and modified, by Hobbes. By introducing students to powerful but contrasting conceptions of virtue and its relationship to political life, the course will better enable students to reflect for themselves on questions of central importance to their lives, both as individuals and as members of political communities.
A midterm and a final exam, a paper, class participation and attendance.