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Spring 2010 Course Descriptions

Spring 2010 Courses

History of 18th Century Philosophy 

Course & Class Num: PHIL 3305H, 31679
Time & Location: TTH 11:30-1:00, 208 AH 
Instructor: Brown 

An examination of the major figures in 18th-century western philosophy: Hume, Berkeley, and Kant. Students will be required to complete a 10-12 page term paper, on a topic approved by the instructor. There will also be a midterm and a final examination. This course will count toward the new Phronesis minor in politics and ethics.

Feminist Philosophy 

Course & Class Num: PHIL 3356H, 34331 
Time & Location: TTH 1:00-2:30, 209 ARC 
Instructor: Freeland 

This course is an advanced survey of recent developments in feminist philosophy, focusing on the unique nature of “theory” in feminist thought and on intersections between feminist philosophy and other developing disciplines within feminism. Topics include the definitions of gender and sex, Topics include the definitions of gender and sex, ethical theories, feminist epistemologies, disputes about essentialism, and assessments of the position of women in the history of philosophy. We will study and compare the assumptions and aims of various types of feminism (radical, socialist, liberal, psychoanalytic, French, multicultural, "Third Wave," etc.). No philosophy background is assumed, but readings will typically be fairly long and abstract. The class will involve roughly 60% class discussion in small groups; grading will reflect the requirements of regular reading, writing, and group participation. For details, see below. 

Required texts for this course include: Feminist Thought by Rosemary Tong, Feminism and Philosophy by Rosemary Tong and Nancy Tuana, and Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation by B. Finlen. Students must write a short, informal paper each week in reaction to the assigned readings. There will also be a Mid-Term (Units I-III), a Final (IV-VI), and take-home essay exams. Honors students will write a five-page, independent research paper, of variable format, on an author, school, or concept that is of interest to the student. 

This course will count toward the new Phronesis minor in politics and ethics. 

History of 19th Century Philosophy 

Course & Class Num: PHIL 3395H, 31690 
Time & Location: MWF 10:00-11:00, 212J L 
Instructor: Morrison 

In this course we will examine nineteenth century philosophy as it developed under the influence of Hegel’s philosophy of history. We will read Hegel, Kierkegaard and Marx. Kierkegaard and Marx represent conservative and communist reactions to Hegel, respectively. We will explore the issues of the individual’s place in society, the progress of man through history, and the relation between passion and reason. The texts will be closely read and discussed in class. 

This course will count toward the new Phronesis minor in politics and ethics.

Introduction to Political Theory 

Course & Class Num: POLS 3310H, 30811 
Time & Location: TTH 1:00-2:30, 205 AH 
Instructor: Church 

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? Authors examined include Thucydides, Plato, Machiavelli, Locke, Rousseau. This course will count toward the new Phronesis minor in politics and ethics. 

Democratic Theory 

Course & Class Num: POLS 3343, 30823 
Time & Location: TTH 10:00-11:30, 111 M 
Instructor: Church 

Recently the United States has encountered difficulties in installing democratic institutions and spreading the democratic impulse throughout the world. Even our own democracy faces low voter turnout, political apathy, and the rule by rich elites. These difficulties force us to reconsider the basic notion of democracy and its inherent worth. In examining the writings of political philosophers both ancient and modern, we will ask, is democracy a good regime after all? What problems do democracies face again and again, and can these problems be overcome with a written constitution? Does the contemporary internet age pose new problems or new opportunities for popular self-government? Authors considered in this course include Aristophanes, Plato, the Federalist, Tocqueville, Lincoln, and Cass Sunstein. This course will count toward the new Phronesis minor in politics and ethics.

American Political Thought 

Course & Class Num: POLS 3349, 22089
Time & Location: TTH 11:30-1:00, L 212L 
Instructor: LeVeaux 

This course is designed to acquaint the student with the political philosophies that structure the institutions and processes of the American political system. Through class lectures we will explore the early writings of the founders to establish a foundation, then we will move through the years and through writings and court cases, examine contemporary political thought. This course aims to cultivate an awareness of current political activity in the U.S., as well as encourage students to develop and voice opinions about American political thought and the resulting policies and institutions. This course will count toward the new Phronesis minor in politics and ethics. 

The Spartans and the Ancient Regime 

Course & Class Num: POLS 4394H, 30850
Time & Location: MW 2:30-4:00 PM, 302 AH 
Instructor: Collins 

Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by 
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie 

—Epitaph to the Spartans who perished at Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BCE 

For all the greatness of the Athenians, the Spartans considered themselves the only truly free people among the Greeks: It was the Spartans who originally freed the Greeks from the grip of tyranny, whose 300 warriors held off 250,000 Persians at Thermopylae (“Remember the Alamo”), who rose to defend Greek freedom against Athenian imperialism, and who eventually prevailed over Athens in the great war that ensued. The Spartans attributed their superiority directly to the political regime established by their founder, Lycurgus. The great Athenian writer and military commander Xenophon opens his Regime of the Lacedaimonians by reporting his wonderment that the sparsely populated Sparta should become the most powerful and celebrated city of the Greeks and by observing that he ceased to wonder when he considered the practices, unique among the Greeks, established by the laws of Lycurgus. The aim of this course, then, will be to study the Spartans in peace and at war: to investigate the political regime that made their courage and freedom possible, understand the nature of their freedom, and contrast it with both Athenian views of freedom and our own. Our main texts will be Xenophon’s Regime of the Lacedaimonians, Hellenica, and Education of Cyrus, and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. This course will count toward the new Phronesis minor in politics and ethics. 

Plato I: Socrates & Sophists 

Course & Class Num: HON 4397, 34581 
Time & Location: TTH 5:30-7:00, 212L L 
Instructor: Little 

This course aims to begin the ambitious project of reading all thirty-five of Plato’s extant dialogues. Our point of departure, like Socrates’, is the perspective of the city, from which Socrates looks suspiciously like a sophist. Accordingly, we will read The Clouds, Aristophanes’ comedy which portrays him as a sophist, and Plato’s dialogues named after or directly concerned with the character of sophistry: Protagoras, Gorgias, Hippias Major, Hippias Minor, Euthydemus, Theatetus, Euthyphro, Sophist, Statesman, as well as Plato’s apparent response to Aristophanes’ attack on Socrates, Symposium. In addition to the intensive reading, there will be four to five analytic essays. 

This course will count toward the new Phronesis minor in politics and ethics.