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Fall 2010 Course Descriptions

Fall 2010 Courses

Introduction to Political Theory

Undergraduate Catalog  Honors Coursebook 

(There are two sections of this course available) 
Course & Class Num: POLS 3310H, 31584 
Time & Location: MW 2:30 – 4:00, L 212L 
Instructor: Jeffrey Church 
This section is a small, closed seminar for Phronesis students. 

Course & Class Num: POLS 3310H, 19548 
Time & Location: MWF 11:00 – 12:00, PGH 343 
Instructor: Jeremy D. Bailey
This section is a large, open Honors course. 

Most of us think that we live in a good regime—it’s liberal, it’s democratic, so what more could you ask for? Yet if its goodness is so obvious, why do we have such difficulty convincing our detractors? This course will ask the questions we rarely pose in our daily political lives—what is the good regime, the ideal against which we can measure what is our own? Does a good regime foster a good or full human life? At the same time—acknowledging that the messiness of politics forces us to moderate our ideal expectations—we will ask, what are the challenges to achieving the good regime? How much goodness can we expect out of a regime? Finally, perhaps there is no good regime at all—is everything a matter of bargaining, power, and struggle? Does might make right? Or can right be mighty? 

American Political Thought 

Undergraduate Catalog  Honors Coursebook 

Course & Class Num: POLS 3349H, 33857 
Time & Location: MW 4:00 – 5:30, AH 322 
Instructor: Terrell L. Hallmark 

In his Annual Message to Congress on December 1, 1862, Abraham Lincoln called America “the last best hope on earth.” This course on American political thought is an effort —a semester-long exploration—to determine the manner and extent to which that is so. 

The course will begin with a careful reading of John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government. An English political philosopher, Locke had perhaps the greatest influence on the ideas of the American founders. An analysis of the Declaration of Independence, Constitutional Convention of 1787, The Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, and the United States Constitution will follow. The goal here will be to determine, as Alexander Hamilton put it in Federalist No. 1, “whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” 

The course will conclude with a study of the political thought of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln, for one finds in the writings and speeches of these two statesmen the clearest articulation of the most vexing problem—the disputed question—of the American regime: that is, what is to be the role of the central or national government? Calhoun makes a powerful argument for the importance of states’ rights, while Lincoln is a keen proponent of a strong national government. This course will count toward the Phronesis minor. 

History of 17th Century Philosophy 

Undergraduate Catalog  Honors Coursebook 

Course & Class Num: PHIL 3304H, 31746 
Time & Location: MWF 10:00 – 11:00, L 212J 
Instructor: Iain Morrisson 

In this course I will explore the philosophical systems of two of the most influential early modern thinkers: Descartes and Locke. We will closely read all or parts of four major works from these thinkers. Beginning with epistemological questions of how and what we know with certainty, we will go on to look at the way in which the answers to these questions shape the theories of human nature and politics in Descartes and Locke respectively. This course will count toward the Phronesis minor. 

Classics in the History of Ethics 

Undergraduate Catalog  Honors Coursebook 

Course & Class Num: PHIL 3358H, 18296 
Time & Location: TTH 1:00 – 2:30, AH 322 
Instructor: David K. Phillips 

In this course we will read much of the most important ethical work of three central figures in the modern history of ethics: Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), and Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900). Kant and Mill would very often be taken to be the two most important moral philosophers of the modern era: the most important representatives of, respectively, the deontological and the utilitarian traditions. It is less standard (though far from unprecedented) to give such prominence to Sidgwick; one of the aims of the course is to explore the idea that Sidgwick merits a place as prominent as the other two. We will focus on our three philosophers’ approaches to two central issues in moral theory: (i) the nature of morality: just what are moral rules, where do they come from, and why should we follow them?; (ii) the content of morality: just what does morality tell us to do? We will also attend to their views on the status of egoism. 

There will be a take home midterm and a take home final, both consisting of two questions each requiring about 4-5 pages of writing, and a 7-8 page paper. The midterm and final will each be worth 35%, the paper 30%. This course will count toward the Phronesis minor. 

Recent Islamic Political Thought 

Undergraduate Catalog  Honors Coursebook 

Course & Class Num: POLS 4396H, 33979 
Time & Location: TTH 1:00 – 2:30, TBA 
Instructor: Gregory Weiher 

In the late eighteenth century, the French invaded Egypt and occupied it for three years. This began a period during which Middle Easterners were unavoidably confronted with Western power and culture. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Islamic political thought was dominated by what are variously called the Islamic reformers or the Islamic modernists - Jalal al Din al Afghani, Muhammad Abduh, and Rashid Rida. While remaining committed to Islam, the Islamic reformers favored incorporating Western elements - science, reason, constitutional government - into Islamic societies. This movement, however, took place at the elite level of these societies. The reformers were never able to win over the Islamic masses, nor were they able to propose a specific synthesis between reason and revelation. Their influence began to wane in the 1930s, and by the time of the creation of Israel (1948), their day was over. There followed a twenty year interval during which secular regimes dominated the political landscape. Arab socialism, as manifested most famously in Nasr's Egypt, rejected Islam except to pay lip service to it in order to pacify traditional elements of society. With the defeat in the 1967 war against Israel, secularism was discredited. Those who had been calling for the revival of Islam - Maududi in India/Pakistan beginning in the thirties, Sayyid Qutb in Egypt during the 50s and 60s, and Khomeini in Iran in the 60s and 70s - received a more receptive hearing from peoples who rejected Western political models, whether liberal and democratic or socialist. For Maududi, Qutb, and Khomeini, Islam was above all a political ideology that called for the foundation of an Islamic state. This course examines the work of Afghani, Abduh, Rida, Maududi, Qutb, Khomeini, and Ali Shariati in order to relate Islamic reformism and Islamic radicalism to Western modes of political thought and to each other. This course will count toward the Phronesis minor.