GOV 335M • Might and Right Among Nations
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
The basic aim of the course is twofold: 1) to gain a better understanding of what kind of justice and law exists among nations; and 2) to gain a better understanding of what justice itself means, in human relations, as its nature is revealed under the stress of the international arena and in light of the possibility of war. We will examine the original, foundational arguments for: the classical republican struggle for and against empire (Thucydides); Christian Just War theory (Aquinas and Vitoria); Islamic Jihad Theory (The Koran and Hadith; Shaybani, Alfarabi, Avicenna, Ibn Khaldun); the moral supremacy of independent national sovereignty (Hobbes); globalizing moral community achieved through commercialization (Montesquieu); and world order achieved through international legal organization (Kant). We will try to uncover the hidden philosophic foundations of our contemporary ways of thinking, and confront our assumptions with challenges from earlier, alien ways of conceiving the world. Our chief (though not our sole) point of reference will be the historian Thucydides' dramatic presentation of The Peloponnesian War?a moral as well as military struggle pitting the imperialism of one of history?s greatest democracies (Athens) against the anti-imperialism of one of the most conservative and pious aristocracies in history (Sparta).