West European Studies | History Of Political Theory 2
W405 | 4809 | Goldman

This course will investigate some major texts and topics in the
history of modern Western political thought.  Students will be
encouraged to participate in the “conversation” between modern
political theorists, from Hobbes to Marx, over problems of
modernity.  Our discussion will concentrate on how these writers
think about problems of emancipation by employing notions such as
natural law and rights, reason, history, and science.  Is there a
natural law that governs how people should act?  Do people
have “inalienable” rights?  Why do individuals enter society and why
is there a need for government?  How should we think about the
relationship between rights and duties?  How can scientific method
and the study of history help us to understand relations between
political, social and economic forces?  Students will also be invited
to evaluate the influence of these writers who have come to make up
the “canon” of modern political thought.  How have their answers to
the above questions shaped our political landscape?  What are the
limits of the modern canon and is the modern canon racist or
	The readings for this course are challenging and will demand
a greater than average amount of time and effort, however the rewards
of this work may be invaluable both in theory and in practice.  By
the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate
reasonable command of concepts and arguments that are central to the
study of political theory.  Students will also be encouraged to
develop their own standards as a basis for evaluating political and
social phenomena.  Thus, the course is designed to give students the
opportunity to develop an understanding of political theorizing as an
intellectual enterprise that has practical significance.