Saturday, December 17, 2011

Introduction to Political Philosophy - a Course Syllabus

Introduction to Political Philosophy:  Beyond its Eurocentric Origins and New Paradigms and Practices
In this course we survey the development of political philosophy in the modern world system.  Through a set of readings that survey a number of key political philosophers from the 17th through the end of the 20th century, we shall be able to question the foundations and basis of prevailing and alternative political theories. One of the key problems presented by Cohn's text is his exclusive reliance upon Western political philosophy.  We'll discuss in class why this is a problem and how we can overcome this through readings from non-Western sources.

Required Texts:
Steven Cohn, Political Philosophy:  The Essential Texts. (Oxford, 2011, 2nd edition)
Online readings (see hyperlinks below and on this blog for the Gandhi, Mao and Fanon tab)
Recommended:  Will Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy:  An Introduction (Oxford, 2002)
Jonathan Wolff, Why Read Marx Today? (Oxford, 2002)
Jonathan Wolff, An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Oxford, 2006)

Our course will be comprised of the following sets of readings outlined below.  As we meet twice a week, the class session each week will include an introductory lecture and discussion of key points for discussion with a selected class reading of a key section of that week’s text.  In our second class session of the week, students will take turns in presenting a section of common readings from that week’s reading.  We shall examine that text collectively in class and framea set of questions an discussion around the issues raised.  Students who have been assigned that week’s reading are to follow up with a short paper  (3-4 pages double-spaced) that reading that is due by the following Thursday. 

Each student will present at least two discussions during the course, and two papers on those readings. 

Grading will be based on a 100 point basis consisting of the following:

1)      Student papers and presentations 25 points each (50 points or more possible)
2)      Final Exam (25 points)
3)      Class participation and attendance (25 points)

Grading point system:
90-100 points =A
80- 89 points = B
70-79 points = C
60-69 points = D
59 or below = F

Week One: 
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan 285-311

Week Two:
Thomas Hobbes, Reading;  Leviathan 285-311

Week Three
John Locke, Reading:  Second Treatise of Government, 315-342

Week Four
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 452-467
G.W.F. Hegel, Introduction to the Philosophy of History, 556-565

Week Five
Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, 569-576

Week Six
Karl Marx, The German Ideology, 577-582

Week Seven
John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, 599
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 633-666
John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, 675-689

Week Eight
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, 694-709

Week Nine
Gandhi on Non-Cooperation (1922) (from Project Gutenberg)
Mao Zedong, "Be Concerned with the Well-Being of the Masses, Pay Attention to Methods of Work," (1934) and "Combat Liberalism," (1937).
Frantz Fanon, (Conclusion to Wretched of the Earth, 1961)   

Week Ten
Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge, 747-760
Virginia Held, Non-contractual Society:  A Feminist View , 782-795

Final Exam Take-Home Essay

Final Exam Essay Questions:  Be prepared to write essays in class on two topics.  One of these essays is to be written in advance as a take-home essay.  Bring it with you to class.  If you do not have it prepared in advance, you will need to write it out during the exam.
Final Exam:  Thursday March 22, 2012 9:00 – 10:50 AM.  The topics will be handed out in class.