PSCI 232 Spring 2015 Modern Political Thought

Cross Listed as PHIL232
This course invites you to contemplate some of the core questions taken up by major political thinkers from the 16th through the 20th century, through close readings of a number of pivotal texts. Beginning with the revival of classical republicanism during the Renaissance and the advent of new scientific outlooks on politics in the early modern period, we will proceed to key texts in the liberal and social-contract traditions, Enlightenment and counter-Enlightenment republican thought, liberal Utilitarian perspectives, classical Marxism, and finally to the work of Hannah Arendt, one of the most significant interpreters and critics of modern political theory in the 20th century. The thinkers we will read in this course include Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, and Arendt. These thinkers have much to tell us about the political ideals and concerns that seemed exciting or pressing in the past. But their texts may also reorient and energize our thinking about politics today. Read with an open mind and a critical spirit, they can challenge our settled preconceptions about good and evil, provoke reexamination of our role as citizens, demand that we justify our institutions afresh, and even inspire us to describe a better, more just future. Through classroom dialogue and personal reflection, we will carefully ponder partial answers to immense, enduring questions: What is justice? What is freedom? Who should rule? With what limits and justifications? What form of government best serves the people? Who are the people, anyway? And on what grounds can we justify confidence in our answers to such questions?
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: three 6- to 8-page papers and participation
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Prerequisites: none; open to all
Enrollment Preference: Political Science majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: PSCI Political Theory Courses
Enrollment Limit: 25
Expected Enrollment: 21
Class Number: 3597
PSCI 232 - 01 (S) LEC Modern Political Thought Division 2: Social Studies Laura D. Ephraim
MR 1:10 PM-2:25 PM 3597
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