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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Fall 2005

GOV 335M • Might and Right Among Nations

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
37650 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
MEZ B0.306
Pangle, T

Course Description

Upper-division standing required. Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary. A study of major alternative approaches, elaborated by some of the greatest political theorists, to the question of the moral character of international relations. The basic aim of the course is twofold: to gain a better understanding of what kind of justice and law (if any) exists among nations; and to gain a better understanding of what justice itself means, in human relations, as its nature is revealed under the stress of the intensely competitive international arena, always overshadowed by the threat of war. We will examine the original, foundational philosophic arguments for: the classical republican struggle for and against empire (Thucydides) Christian Just War theory (Aquinas and Vitoria); the moral supremacy of independent national sovereignty (Hobbes); global moral community achieved through commercialization (Montesquieu); world legal order achieved through international organization (Kant). We will try to uncover the hidden philosophic foundations of our contemporary ways of thinking, and to confront our assumptions with challenges from earlier, alien ways of conceiving the world. While we will not forget contemporary problems and issues, we will try to transcend our passionate biases, and view our own immediate situation from a liberating distance, by taking as our chief empirical focus the philosophic historian Thucydides dramatic presentation of The Peloponnesian Wara moral as well as military struggle pitting the imperialism of one of historys greatest democracies (Periclean Athens) against the anti-imperialism of one of the most conservative and pious aristocracies in history (Sparta).

Grading Policy

Final Exam (40%) and two in-class exams (20% each) Attendance and spot quizzes at lectures (10%) Participation in discussion sections (10%)


Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. Hobbes, Leviathan. Kant, Political Writings. Francisco de Vitoria, Political Writings. Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War. Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws.


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