Political Science | Modern Political Thought
Y382 | 13653 | Scheuerman


Contemporary political life has its origins in the momentous
political and social upheavals of the 16th-19th centuries. By
focusing on a series of influential writers (Machiavelli, Hobbes,
Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Kant, and Marx), the course undertakes
to provide a thorough introduction to the basic debates of modern
political thought. Without a mastery of those debates, it is simply
impossible to understand our own political universe. Questions to be
discussed include: how should we see the relationship between
religion and politics? What are the necessary preconditions of
political order and stability, and how can order coexist with
liberty? What is the “social contract,” and do we need to rely on a
model of it in order to envision a legitimate form of government?
What are the proper aims of government? Is private property
essential to liberty, and if so, what form should it take? What is
the rule of law? How is republicanism distinct from liberalism? Can
lasting peace be achieved in international affairs? Many difficult
thinkers will be examined in this course, but I hope to prove to you
that they all have something important to say about our political
predicament today.

Students are required to take three exams, including a final exam.
Students are also expected to write two 6-7pp. papers. Attendance
and participation are compulsory.