POL-445:   Modern Political Theory

    This course surveys the great ideas in Western political philosophy from 1500 to the present.  We discuss issues related to ultimate authority, justice, human nature, humans' capacity to reason, and the role of women, among others.  We pay particular attention to the 17th-18th century contract theorists, whose ideas influenced the founding of the United States.  We also apply all of these ideas to contemporary controversies, proving that while humans don't live forever, ideas can!

   During the course, students learn to analyze philosophical arguments by identifying the thesis, as well as the premises and evidence used to support it.  These skills are applied in a research paper closely analyzing one philosopher's original works.  

    Modern Political Theory is offered every other spring semester.  It fulfills the Political Theory requirement for Political Science majors and minors.  It also counts towards the "Western Historical Perspectives" category in the general education requirements.  It is a Writing Emphasis course.

Political Philosophy Links
    Comprehensive set of links from Peter Suber of Earlham College
    Information, links and commentary from  Garth Kemerling of Newberry College (and an Iowa Ph.D. to boot)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy (available through Stewart Memorial Library subscription to Project Muse--if you're not at Coe this link probably won't work)
     Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a work in progress, but has entries on Hume, Kant, Mill and Nietzsche among others
    The Constitution Society has a virtual "Liberty Library" with many classics in the public domain
    Brief biography and quotes from Thomas Hobbes
    Lots of links pertaining to Immanuel Kant
    Text of Mary Wollstonecraft's  Vindication of the Rights of Women
    Text of Friedrich Nietzsche's Also Spoke Zarathustra

Course Outline

Required Texts: 
William Shakespeare, Henry V (1599--any edition)
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595--any edition)
David Wootton (ed), Modern Political Thought (Hackett, 2nd ed, 2008)

Governing and preserving principalities: Niccolò Macchiavelli (1469-1527), The Prince (c. 1516), chs. 1-9
Maintaining power: Machiavelli, The Prince, chs. 10-18
The importance of popularity: Machiavelli, The Prince, chs 19-26
Another side of Machiavelli: Machiavelli, Discourses upon Livy (c. 1517), Bk I chs 1-2, 4-5, 9-12, 17-18
Reformation political theory: John Calvin (1509-1564), On Civil Government (c. 1560)
Humans in a state of nature:  Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), Leviathan (1651), chs. 11, 13-14
Religion in the commonwealth: Hobbes, Leviathan, chs 32, 34, 37-38

The state of nature II:  John Locke (1632-1704), Second Treatise of Government, II, chs. 2-5
Civil society: Locke, Second Treatise, II, chs. 8-13
Establishing and dissolving the government: Locke Second Treatise, II, chs 14-15, 19
The social contract and the general will: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), On the Social Contract (1762), Books I-II ch 7
The people and the government: Rousseau, Social Contract, Book II ch 8-Book III ch 8
The general will in action: Rousseau, Social Contract, Book IV
Conservatism: Edmund Burke (1730-1797), Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), selections
Theories of liberty: Benjamin Constant (1767-1830), "On Ancient and Modern Liberty" (1819)


Critique of capitalism: Karl Marx (1818-1883), "Alienated Labor" (1844)
Late Marx: Marx, preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), selections from "Critique of the Gotha Program" (1875)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Henry V (1599), acts 1-3
Shakespeare, Henry V, acts 4-5
Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595), acts 1-3
Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's Dream, acts 4-5
Is male supremacy natural?: John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), The Subjection of Women (1869), ch 1

Is male supremacy useful?: Mill, Subjection of Women, ch 4

Last course:  Ancient and Medieval Political Theory

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Last update: 12/23/15