Syllabus: Western Political Theory

10:50am-11:50am, MWF

West Hall 210

Professor Claudia Leeb

Office location: West Hall 121

Office phone: 540-375-5256

Office hours: Tuesdays 1:00pm-3:00pm

Course Goals:

This course traces the development of Western political thought from the Ancient Greeks to contemporary political philosophy. The course has three central goals. First, to gain a deeper understanding of key terms in political theory—such as democracy, justice, equality, freedom, political authority, and the good life—by reading classic texts. Second, to trace the historical evolution of these terms in Western political thought. And third, to consider the historical context in which the discussed political philosophers produced their texts. We will examine the works of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Marx.

Upon conclusion of the course, students should first, be familiar the main arguments of central thinkers of Western political thought; second, describe the theorists’ views on key concepts of political philosophy, such as justice and political authority; and third, be able to write coherent essays on the main arguments of the discussed authors.

Required Reading:

Michael L. Morgan (ed.) Classics of Moral and Political Theory, 4th edition (2005, Indiananpolis: Hackett) (most of the texts we will read can be found in this book)

Cicero, M.T. Griffin and E.M. Atkins (eds.) On Duties (1991, Cambridge University Press) 

Kant: Political Writings, H.S. Reiss (ed.) (1991, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Robert C. Tucker (ed.) The Marx-Engels Reader (2nd ed., 1978, New York/London: W.W. Norton), pp. 302-329.

Required Writing Style Manual:

Scott, Gregory M. & S. M. Garrison, The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual, 6th Ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008.

Schedule and Readings:

Week 1, Plato’s Republic I

August 26. Introduction

August 28, Plato, Republic, Books I (entire), (Morgan, pp. 75-93)

Week 2, Plato’s Republic II

August 31, Plato, Republic, Books II-III (entire), (Morgan, pp. 93-130)

September 2, Plato, Republic, Books IV-V (entire), (Morgan, pp. 130-169)

September 4, First Test on Plato’s Republic (Books I -V)

Week 3, Plato’s Republic III

September 7, Plato, Republic, Books VI (entire), (Morgan, pp. 169-186)

September 9, Plato, Republic, Books VII-VIII (entire), (Morgan, pp. 186-220)

September 11, Plato, Republic, Books IX-X (entire), (Morgan, pp. 220-251)

Week 4, Aristotle’s Politics

September 14

Aristotle, Politics, Books I (entire)-II (chapters 1-12), 1252a-1283a (Morgan, pp. 361-389)

September 16, Aristotle, Politics, Books II (chapters 13-18)-III (entire),

1283a-1332b (Morgan, pp. 389-416)

September 18, Test on Plato’s Republic (Books VI-X) and Aristotle’s Politics (Books I-III)

Week 5, Cicero’s De Officiis

September 21, Cicero, On Duties, Book I, (entire), (pp. 1-62)

September 23, Cicero, On Duties, Book II (entire), (pp. 63-100)

September 25, Cicero, On Duties, Book III (entire), (pp. 101-147)

Week 6, Niccolo Machiavelli I

September 28, Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapters 1-7 (Morgan, pp. 482-495)

September 30, Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapters 8-17 (Morgan, pp. 495-511)

October 2, Test on Cicero’s De Officiis and Machiavelli’s The Prince (chapters 1-17)

Week 7, Niccolo Machiavelli II

October 5, Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapters 18-26 (Morgan, pp. 511-526)

October 7, Machiavelli, Discourses, Book I (1-2), Book II (1-2, 20, 29) (Morgan pp. 527-547)

October 9, Machiavelli, Discourses, Book III (1,9) (Morgan pp. 527-547)

Week 8, Fall Break

Week 9, Thomas Hobbes

October 19, Hobbes, Leviathan, Part I, Chapters 13-16 (Morgan, 591-606)

October 21, Hobbes, Leviathan, Part II, Chapters 17-20 (Morgan, pp. 606-621

October 23, Hobbes, Leviathan, Part II, Chapters 21-24 (Morgan, pp. 621-636)

Week 10, John Locke

October 26, Locke, Second Treatise of Government, Chapters 1-5 (Morgan, pp. 685-698)

October 28, Locke, Second Treatise of Government, Chapters 6-9 (Morgan, pp. 698-719)

October 30, Test on Machiavelli’s The Prince (chapters 18-26) and the Discourses (Books I-III); the Leviathan, and Locke’s Second Treatise of Government

Week 11, Jean-Jacques Rousseau

November 2, Rousseau On the Social Contract, Books I (entire)-II (1-7), (Morgan, pp. 831-848)

November 4, Rousseau On the Social Contract, Books II (8-12)-III (1-10), (Morgan, pp. 848-867)

November 6, Rousseau On the Social Contract, Books III (11-18)-IV (entire), (Morgan, pp. 867-890)

Week 12, Immanuel Kant I

November 9, Kant, “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose,” in H.S. Reiss (ed.) Kant: Political Writings

(1991, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 41-53.

November 11, Kant, “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment,” in Kant: Political Writings, pp. 54-60

November 13, Test on Rousseau’s Social Contract and Kant I

Week 13, Immanuel Kant II

November 16, Kant, “On the Common Saying: This May be True in Theory, but it does not Apply in Practice,”

in Kant: Political Writings, pp. 61-92

November 18,  Kant, “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,” in Kant: Political Writings, pp. 93-115.

November 20, Marx, “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: in Robert C. Tucker (ed.). The Marx- Engels Reader (Second edition, 1978, New York/London: Norton & Company), pp. 53 – 66

Week 14, Karl Marx I

November 23, Marx, “Theses on Feuerbach,” “Alienation and Social Classes, in Robert C. Tucker (ed.). The Marx-Engels Reader, pp, 143-145; pp.133-135

Research Paper Due

Thanksgiving Break

Week 15, Karl Marx II

November 30, Marx, “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” in Robert C. Tucker (ed.). The Marx-Engels Reader, pp. 469-500.

December 2, Capital, Volume One, Chapter 1, in Robert C. Tucker (ed.) The Marx-Engels Reader (2nd ed., 1978, New York/London: W.W. Norton), pp. 302-329.

December 4, Summary and Final Discussion