|PHIL 2300 (POLT 1070): Social and Political Philosophy|
Fall 2009 (Aug. 24-Dec. 18)
Sverdrup 117; Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-4:20 p.m.
Office hours: 4:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, or by appointment.
Office in Pearson House.
course will examine
some of the major questions of political philosophy through the study of
traditional and contemporary theories of justice. In particular, the course
will focus on questions relating to political obligation, liberty and
coercion, equality, distributive justice, and democracy.
Robert M. Stewart,
Robert M. Stewart,Readings in Social and Political Philosophy (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1996). ISBN: 0-19-509518-9.
Christman, Social and Political
Philosophy: A contemporary introduction (
: Routledge, 2002). ISBN:
addition, several readings will distributed either via e-mail or in class
(well ahead of when we’ll discuss them).
35% — First essay; due Oct. 27.
35% — Second essay; due Dec. 10.
15% — Reading summaries.
15% — Attendance and participation.
For each of these assignments, you should write an essay of
approximately 10 pages addressing one of the issues we’ve discussed in class.
These should be constructive, philosophical essays. Basically, this means you
should analyze some issue we’ve discussed, including the competing positions
offered by the authors we’ve read, and then defend a position, offering your
own, original arguments in support of your view (we’ll discuss this more as
the first essay deadline approaches). I will distribute a list of
possible paper topics roughly two weeks before each assignment deadline; you
may also write on a topic you choose, as long as you get the topic approved by
me ahead of time. No late essays will
be accepted, and no incompletes will be given. (NOTE: I have zero
tolerance for plagiarists. If I catch you passing off someone else’s work as
your own, I will push for the strongest punishment possible.)
You’re expected to write and bring to class brief summaries of
each session’s assigned readings (roughly 1/2 page per reading). Note: I
won’t necessarily be demanding high-level, insightful commentary from these
summaries (though it’s certainly welcome). The point is just to keep you
honest with doing the readings — which becomes especially relevant when the
term gets busy and it becomes tempting to start letting things slide. It’s
important that we all come to class having read the assigned articles and
ready to participate in the class discussion. So these summaries just need to
make it clear to me that you’ve done the readings.
there’s good news: The first week’s (Aug. 25 and 27) readings are exempt
from this assignment. In addition, you can skip writing these summaries for up
to three other class sessions without it affecting your grade. In other words,
as long as you turn in reading summaries for at least 21 of our class
sessions, you’ll be fine.
Students are expected to come to each class prepared to discuss the assigned
readings. Attendance will be taken. You will receive two free absences, and
then points will be deducted from your grade for additional absences without
special permission from me (and you’ll only get permission in extreme
Grade disputes: If you think a grade you receive is unfair, don’t immediately rush to my desk after class (or to my office hour) to protest. Instead, spend at least a couple of days reading over and considering the comments I gave your paper, and if you’re still convinced the grade is unfair, type up a one- to two-page request for a reconsideration of the grade, explaining why you believe the grade was unfair even in light of the comments I gave. E-mail the request to me, and after I’ve read over your request, we can schedule an office visit to talk about it. Note that there’s no guarantee that I’ll agree with your request and raise your grade, and in fact if I do reread and reconsider your assignment, there’s a chance that the grade could go down rather than up.
cardinal sins in the class:
1) Plagiarism.I have zero tolerance on this issue. If I catch you passing off someone else’s work as your own, I will push for the strongest punishment possible.
2) Disrespecting others in the class. This class, by its nature, will involve debate about controversial topics. Healthy disagreement is good. But even if we disagree with another’s point of view, we will be respectful of the person holding the point of view, whether it be a fellow student or even me. Another, less obvious way to disrespect others in the class is not to pay attention or, worse, to be a distraction when they’re talking. Whispering to your friend, even if it’s about something we’re discussing, isn’t compatible with also listening to whomever’s talking. And since you’d presumably want the rest of us to listen when you have something to say, fairness dictates that you listen to others as well. For the same reason, you won’t be allowed to use Iphones, Blackberries, etc., during class. Computers are okay, but only for taking class notes. If I catch you using your computer to surf the Internet, play games online, chat with your friends, etc., you won’t be allowed to have your computer turned on in class anymore. (One good way to avoid any misunderstandings on this point is just to take notes the old-fashioned way, with a pen and paper.)
1, Political authority, obligation and consent.
Aug. 25, Introduction to course and to social-political philosophy.
27, Stewart, 4-12 (Plato).
2, Political authority, obligation and consent.
Sept. 1, Stewart, 13-40 (Locke); Christman, 26-28, 41-48.
3, Stewart, 66-81 (Simmons).
Sept. 8, Stewart, 90-95 (Berlin), 98-109 (Taylor).
10, Stewart, 110-129 (Mill).
Sept. 15, Stewart, 272-283 (Nagel).
17, Handout (Pojman).
5, Democracy and representation.
Sept. 22, Stewart, 336-358 (Mill).
24, Stewart, 418-431 (Pitkin).
6, Toleration and pluralism.
Sept. 29, Christman, 94-108.
Oct. 1, Stewart, 315-326 (Rawls); Christman, 108-121.
7, Toleration and pluralism.
Oct. 6, Handout (Audi).
8, Handout (Quinn).
8, Feminist and communitarian critiques of liberalism.
Oct. 13, Stewart, 409-416 (Mendus); Christman, 163-179.
15, Stewart, 284-297 (Paul and Miller); Christman, 130-148.
9, NO CLASS (fall break).*
9, NO CLASS (fall break).*
10, Distributive justice.
*First essays due Oct. 27 (via e-mail or handed in at beginning of class).
Oct. 27, Stewart, 219-234 (Rawls); Christman, 60-80.
29, Stewart, 235-258 (Nozick); Christman, 80-92.
11, World poverty.
Nov. 3, Handouts (Singer, Arthur).
5, Handout (Pogge).
Nov. 10, Handout (Miller).
12, Handout (Kukathas).
13, War and terrorism.
Nov. 17, Handout (Orend).
19, Handout (Kamm).
*Week 14, NO CLASS (Thanksgiving).*
*Week 14, NO CLASS (Thanksgiving).*
Dec. 1, Handout (Duff, 3-19).
3, Handout (Duff, 19-34).
*Second essays due Dec. 10 (via