Philosophy | Classics in Social and Political Philosophy
P343 | 3505 | --
Philosophers from Plato and Aristotle through Augustine and Aquinas to Adorno and
Oakeshott have struggled to understand society, politics and government by working to
formulate clearly and to answer these sorts of questions: Can we set down general
conditions, once and for all, on the constitution of legitimate authority? Should law
embody a specific morality or provide special protections for a specific morality? Do
human beings have certain political rights naturally or are all rights granted us
consequent to conventions or agreements? We will devote a semester to reading,
carefully and critically, social and political writings of philosophers from the ancient,
medieval, modern and contemporary eras – their best thoughts on these and related issues
– and to analyzing their positions, approaches and fundamental arguments.
There will be two written in-class examinations during the course of the semester and a
comprehensive final examination. In addition to regular reading assignments from the
required texts, there will also be weekly writing assignments in essay format, as well as
required individual or group presentations. Class participation will play an important role
in determining a student's grade in the course.
Texts: Steinberger, Peter J. Readings in Classical Political Thought and Wootton, David,
Modern Political Thought. There is also a reading packet.