GOV 382K • Studies in Political Theory and Philosophy
12:30 PM-3:30 PM
By the time you are up for tenure, all of the questions that seemed so up-to-date in graduate school will be hopelessly antiquated. If you really want to learn political theory, you must spend some time with the even older questions that are never out of date. What is justice? Why should I be just? What is the best regime? How does one kind of regime turn into another? Are the basics of right and wrong known to everyone? Can people really rule themselves? Does a people always get the government it deserves? Is it right to do evil that good may result? In reflecting on such questions it makes sense to dwell with the most original and profound thinkers in the history of political thought. This is the only course in the Department of Government which offers you such an opportunity. There is no substitute. Even other political theory courses (including my own) focus on only particular aspects of the Western tradition. By contrast, the readings in this course are chosen in such a way as to provide a short survey of the canon, from Plato to NATO. Our survey includes classical pagan and Christian authors, social contract theorists, and utilitarians.
Graduate standing required. Consent of the graduate advisor must be obtained. For students in the Department of Government, this course satisfies the political theory requirement.
Seminar participants will write analytical outlines of each of the eight reading assignments. (What this means will be explained on the first day.) In the determination of grades, analytical outlines will count for two-thirds and vigorous seminar participation for one-third.
Required. Except for Bentham, which in online, the following texts must be purchased. Try to purchase the editions listed below, because they are used in class. Plato, Republic (BasicBooks) Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (Bobbs-Merrill) Augustine, The City of God (Penguin) Thom. Aquinas, The Political Ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas (Hafner) Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (Penguin) John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (Cambridge) Jeremy Bentham, Principles of Morals and Legislation Online at http://www.la.utexas.edu/research/poltheory/ bentham/ipml/index.html John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (Hackett) Budziszewski, Written on the Heart (InterVarsity)