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Is politics war by other means? Is it merely a practical way to meet our needs? Or is it, rather, the activity through which citizens pursue justice and the good life? And what is justice? How can it be established and secured? Where does it apply? To whom? What are the powers and obligations of citizenship? Who decides? On what basis? Political theory addresses questions such as these as it investigates the fundamental problems of how people can, do, and ought to live together. The questions have sparked controversy since the origins of political thinking; the answers remain controversial now. This course addresses the controversies, drawing examples from struggles over such matters as racism, colonialism, revolution, political founding, economic order, and the politics of sex and gender, while focusing on major works of ancient, modern, and contemporary theory by such authors as Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Mill, Marx, Nietzsche, Beauvoir, Arendt, Fanon, Rawls, Foucault, and Young. Themes may include power, authority, freedom, justice, equality, democracy, neoliberalism, feminism, and violence, though the emphases will vary from semester to semester.
Format: seminar; For fall of 2020, this course will take place primarily through twice-weekly synchronous meetings on Zoom. The professor will regularly post brief recorded lectures to Glow before the relevant class session so that class time can be spent entirely on discussion.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Three papers, class participation, and, if practicable, participation in a weekly small, student-only discussion group outside of class hours.
none; this is an introductory course, open to all, including first-year students
first-years and sophomores
LEAD Ethical Issues of Leadership
PHIL Related Courses
POEC Required Courses
PSCI Political Theory Courses