T C 301 • Right and Wrong in Politics
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
The proper role of morality in politics has been a fundamental question for western civilization since Plato. This seminar will consider how this subject has been treated in philosophy, literature, journalism and film. Some of the subjects that will be covered: whether political values have a universal basis; the conflict and compatibility between liberty and equality; the strengths and weaknesses of democratic systems; the moral constraints on those who hold power and their opposition. All issues will be examined in the context of how politics actually works. We will consider why lying seems to be so prevalent in politics, the influence of the Internet on the democratic process, and whether the nature of politics defies reform. A few class periods will be devoted to appearances by political practitioners, including lobbyists, legislators, and political consultants.
About the professor: Paul Burka, a visiting lecturer, is the executive editor of Texas Monthly and a seasoned observer of Texas politics; he is well known for his many columns and features, including his biennial report on the best and worst legislators. Before entering the field of journalism, Mr.Burka was a practicing attorney.
There will be five or six papers of varying lengths, typically 7501000 words. These will be based on analysis of the readings and will comprise 7580% of the final grade. The remainder will be determined by class discussion. There will be no examinations, so long as the discussions indicate that students are keeping up with the readings. Any paper grade lower than B minus must be rewritten.
Rules for Radicals, Alinsky Lying, Bok Murder in the Cathedral, Eliot Enemy of the People, Ibsen The Prince, Machiavelli Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, Riordon On Justice, Power, and Human Nature, Thucydides Democracy in America, Vol.1, de Tocqueville All the Kings Men, Warren Hardball, Matthews