Political Science | Introduction to Political Theory
Y105 | 9884 | Fumurescu
This course uses representative selections from major works in
political philosophy in order to address some of the fundamental
questions about political life. What is the proper role of politics
in everyday life? What is justice? What is representation? Where all
these concepts come from and how did they change over time? Which form
of government is best, and why? What are the challenges faced nowadays
by a liberal democracy? Authors as Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli,
Hobbes, Mill, etc, will be used as support for pondering possible
GOALS: The goal of the course is to offer a broad framework for
discussing – in an intellectually stimulating environment – topics
that, although central to politics and public life, are often taken
for granted if not ignored altogether. After completing this course,
you will be gained 1) a special awareness about how everyday concepts
– such as ‘democracy’, ‘rights’, ‘liberty’, ‘civic virtue’ and the
like – have emerged and changed their meaning over time and 2)
improved skills in thinking about today’s political challenges with
clarity and precision.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS & METHOD: Since the class will use a combination
of lecture and discussion, I expect both attendance and participation.
(Absence for documented illness, university-sponsored activities, or
family emergencies will be excused, but the work accumulation will
still be expected. Please note that in this case it will be the
student’s responsibility to get the lecture and discussion notes,
along with any announcements, from a class peer.) To this effect, you
are welcome to bring additional materials to class (such as relevant
newspaper and magazine articles, websites, additional bibliography).
Students are encouraged to freely express their viewpoints, yet with
respect and courtesy for others’ views. During these discussions, you
should pay attention to the accuracy of the arguments, and their
All the required readings must be done in due course. When reading a
text for the first time you should try to identify the key ideas and
concepts. You are strongly encouraged to reread the text in light of
the lecture and class discussion. As the semester progress, you should
be able to put in dialogue various thinkers’ positions on similar
topics and to critically address both the similarities and the
differences. You should take as many notes as possible from our
in-class lectures and discussions; if, after that, you still do not
feel comfortable with the material please do not hesitate to contact
me during my office hours or by appointment.
There will be two exams (a mid-term and a final) and two short (5 to 6
pages) papers required. The two exams, worth 25% each, will ask you to
write a short essay as well as identify and fully explain key concepts
and ideas discussed in class. About one week before each exam we will
review these requirements. The two short papers assignments, worth 15%
each, will allow you to discuss a topic of your choice based upon the
readings. More than the exams, these essays are meant to stimulate
and to help clarifying your own perspective on a subject you feel
particularly interested in. In order to avoid any possible
misunderstandings, please consult with the instructor about your topic
and the proper way to engage it before starting the first draft.
Students should acquaint themselves with university rules on cheating
and plagiarism. These rules will be strictly enforced and violation of
them will result in severe penalties.
In this class we will use the IU OnCourse system
(http://oncourse.iu.edu). Class announcements and comments will be
disseminated through OnCourse. Follow the onscreen directions, using
online help if necessary.
Grades for this class will be comprised of the following:
Exams: 50% (25 pts x 2)
Discussion papers: 30% (15 pts X 2)
Class participation: 20% (20 pts)
TOTAL = 100 pts
READING MATERIALS: The following book is available for purchase at the
IU Bookstore. You will find it easier to follow the course if you
acquire it and regularly bring them to class with you. We will consult
it in class, so you need to have it with you in order to follow
lecture and discussion.
Note: Some of these texts are also available online.
Michael L. Morgan, ed., Classics of Moral and Political Theory (4th.
Ed.) (Henceforth: CMPT)
Pending on last minute changes, there might be also a number of
readings posted on OnCourse. If need be, you should download these
readings and bring them with you in class as well.