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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2009

T C 302 • Morality & Politics-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42755 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
CRD 007B

Course Description

What is the proper relationship between morality and politics? Should moral principles guide political life? Should political orders aim to shape the character of their citizens? Or should citizens be left as free as possible to shape their own lives? And how have different political orders conceived of the relationship between politics and morality? In this course, we will reflect on these questions by reading and discussing a set of philosophic and literary works that span a wide range of periods and genres. We will start in the world of ancient Greece with Sophocles' Antigone, Plutarchs account of the ancient city of Sparta, selections from Thucydides Peloponnesian War, and works by Plato and Aristotle. After studying these classic works from Greek antiquity, we will turn to some of the foundational works of modern political thought. We will consider the work of the great architect of modern liberalism, John Locke, and we will examine the efforts of the American Founders to put Lockes modern liberal vision into practice. After considering Locke and the American Founding, we will read works by Mill, Ibsen, and Tocqueville, each of which offers a rich analysis of the moral and political strengths and weaknesses of modern democratic society. The aims of this course are to encourage students to confront a wide range of views on one of the central issues of human life, to hone their abilities to think critically and to read carefully, and to improve their writing.

Grading Policy

This course will be offered as a Substantial Writing Component Course (SWC) and as a Signature Course

Three six-page essays 60%
Class participation 20%
Final Exam 20%


Sophocles, Antigone
Plato, Apology of Socrates
Aristotle, Politics (selections)
Locke, Second Treatise of Government
Madison, Hamilton, and Jay, The Federalist Papers (selections)
Mill, On Liberty
Ibsen, An Enemy of the People
Tocqueville, Democracy in America (selections)
Course Packet

About the Professor
Professor Stauffer studies ancient and early modern political philosophy. He has written two books on Plato, and taught courses on topics such as liberalism and its critics, the theoretical foundations of modernity, and the Socratic quest for justice. Prior to coming to the University of Texas, Professor Stauffer taught at Kenyon College and St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. While at Kenyon, he received two research fellowships that were awarded on the basis of teaching excellence. In his spare time, he tries to keep alive his slowly dying athletic career, and he cooks for his wife Dana and his dog Pedro.


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