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

Ariel Helfer

BA, Political Science, Physics, 2008, Kenyon College

Ariel Helfer



Political ambition, The natural and conventional roots of political life, Socratic philosophy, The battle of the books, Foundations of political methodology, Ancient and modern natural science

GOV 312P • Constitutnl Prins: Core Texts

37864 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm CLA 0.106
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Close readings from primary texts that have shaped or that reflect deeply upon American democracy, including the Declaration of Independance, the Federalist Papers, and Tocqueville's Democracy in America.  Fulfills second half of the legislative requirement for government. May be taken for credit only once. Government 312R and 312P may not both be counted for credit.

GOV 312L • Issues & Policies In Amer Gov

39072 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm CLA 0.126
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Prerequisites: GOV 310 or equivalent


Course Description: In this class, we will study of the principles of American politics by reading a selection of great texts from the American political tradition. We’ll explore the purposes of our system of government, especially its promises of freedom and equality, and we’ll explore the kinds of character, the specific virtues and vices, which American life tends to foster. 


The backbone of the course will be a close reading of Alexis de Tocqueville’s great work, Democracy in America. We’ll supplement that with other key texts about the American political tradition drawn from later in the country’s history, which will give us the opportunity to consider American constitutional principles in different contexts. There will be units on race, religion, economic life, and moral relativism.


Grading Policy

60%: 3 papers of about 1200 words 

25%: Final exam

15%: Attendance, reading quizzes, and class participation



Course Reader, including excerpts from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist, Frederick Douglass, Booker T Washington, 

WEB DuBois, and others 

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

Hugh Heclo, Christianity and American Democracy

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