Political Theory / Philosophy


PP304: Ethics and Politics (Blitz)

PP450: Major Works in Political Philosophy (Staff)
This core course seeks to provide students with a solid foundation in political philosophy through study of selected works by Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Burke, Kant, Marx, Mill, and Nietzsche. Seminar discussions will focus on four or five major texts.

PP451: The Federalist (Kesler)
This course involves a close reading of The Federalist in conjunction with the leading writings of the anti-Federalists. Attention is also directed at its most important later commentators and critics, including John C. Calhoun, Woodrow Wilson, Charles Beard, Robert Dahl, Martin Diamond, and others.

PP452: Recent Political Philosophy (Staff)
The purpose of this seminar is to review some important recent works in political philosophy in order to understand the contemporary crisis of liberal democracy. Readings include books by Stuart Hampshire, Benjamin Barber, Michael Walzer, Richard Flathman, and Kenneth Deutsch and Walter Soffer.

PP453: Idealism and Nihilism (Kesler)
A study of some of the chief works of German idealism, historicism, and existentialism, and of their implications for modern politics.

PP454: Contemporary. Figures in Political Philosophy: Gasset & Arendt (Snowiss)
This seminar focuses on the works of Jose Ortega y Gasset and Hannah Arendt in terms of their responses to events in the early twentieth century (totalitarianism), critiques of modernity, and the development of alternative philosophical conceptions as a basis for a new "reality."

PP455: Feminist Political Thought (Snowiss)
An examination of major feminist writers who critique the contemporary world from various perspectives and are engaged in philosophizing about new ways of thinking and defining political concepts such as power, authority, the state and rights as well as the changing determinants of the construction of relationships and identities. We will critically examine those arguments and their far-reaching consequences for social organization and politics.

PP456: Topics in Ancient Political Philosophy (Nichols)
From the writings of such classical authors as Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, Thucydides, and Cicero, works are chosen that treat some central problem of political philosophy. The seminar will investigate that problem through careful reading, close analysis, and detailed discussion of the selected texts.

PP457: The Thought of John Locke (Staff)

PP458: Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy   (Nichols)
The seminar will focus on Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy (also known as the Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy), and students will also be expected to acquaint themselves with other writings crucial for understanding Machiavelli.  These include, most prominently and obviously, Livy's History (Ab Urbe Condita), especially its first ten books, but also writings by Tacitus, Virgil, Cicero, Aristotle, and Polybius, not to mention the Bible.  Students will give brief oral presentations in the seminar, analyzing similarities and differences in Machiavelli's versus Livy's discussions of particular events in Roman history, and will write a 25 page paper on a topic of their choosing, developed in consultation with me.  Among the questions to be addressed in the seminar are: How does Machiavelli combine his advocacy of republicanism with his recommendation of various princely actions?  How does Machiavelli's republicanism differ from its classical antecedents?  What problems does the existence of Christianity, as compared with Roman or Greek polytheism, pose for political life according to Machiavelli?  How does Machiavelli understand the different ways of political acting of the many and the few (or the people and the great)?  What view of historical development does Machiavelli take?

PP459: Liberal Individualism and Communitarianism (Staff)
This seminar will examine five issues that have arisen in the current debate in political philosophy between liberal individualists and communitarians. The five issues are: whether the good ought to have priority over the right; whether subjective moralities are incommensurable; whether selfhood is dependent on community; whether Communitarianism implies absolutism; and whether a morally neutral state is possible. Readings will include Rawls, Sandel, MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Rorty.

PP460: Fundamental Concepts in Recent Political Thought (Staff)

PP461a: Classical Political Philosophy: Aristotle (Kesler)
A close interpretation of Aristotle's Politics, with attention to its relation to his Nicomachean Ethics and other writings. Contemporary philosophical reflections on Aristotle will also be addressed.

PP461: Ethics and Politics: Aristotle and Cicero: Cicero (Kesler)
This course explores the political philosophy of Cicero through the close reading of his major ethical and political writings. Major issues of concern will be the relation between science and philosophy, morality and happiness, duty and virtue, political philosophy and political practice.

PP461a: Classical Political Philosophy: Aristotle

PP461b: Classical Political Philosophy: Cicero

PP462: Contemporary Political Theory (Snowiss)
This course will introduce students to major themes and theorists of the 20th century. The century is marked by four major events: collapse of empire, rise of totalitarianism, explosion of the atom and disintegration of Marxism. Each event challenged a presumption of order and confronted theorists, politicians and citizens with the need to think through the implications of these events and respond to them. We will examine different perspectives and interpretations of what are seen as central philosophical problems.

PP463:  Political Philosophy and History (Neumann)
This course attempts to see why and how the modern turn to history, the reduction of the eternal concerns of political philosophy to the temporal concerns of political theory, is at the basis of contemporary education and science.  Socrates tries, more or less unsuccessfully, to reduce his Athenian divine law (nomos) to convention or opinion open to his philosophic scrutiny.  After him ancient and modern thinkers claim to bring his still problematic enterprise to a successful conclusion.  This claim culminates a progressive, historized evolution of political philosophy into political theory.  We will contrast the Socratic unhistorical with the modern historical take on this problem.

PP464: Contemporary Democratic Theory (Staff)
The course features a selective survey of recent trends in democratic theory, with a particular emphasis on various and changing conceptions of the "public realm" available for political deliberation, interaction, and participation.

PP465: The Political Thought of Thomas Hobbes (Staff)
A study of problems of natural law, natural justice, sovereignty, equality, rights, contract, obligation and politics as science in Hobbes, primarily as found in Leviathan, thought with some reference to De Cive and other writings.

PP466: Basic Concepts in Political Philosophy: Plato's Republic (Blitz)
This course is an examination of the problem of justice conducted through a careful discussion of Plato's Republic. The translation that you should use is by Allan Bloom.

PP467: The Political Philosophy of Montesqueiu (Nichols)
This seminar will investigate the political philosophical writings of Montesquieu. Most of the time will be spent on his Spirit of Laws. His Persian Letters and his, Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and of their Decline will also be assigned.

PP468: Theories of American Democracy (Staff)
This course will analyze theories that seek to explain the nature of self-government in America. Materials covered include the Puritans, the Federal Convention, The Federalist, Tocqueville and a number of modern works.

PP469: Special Topics in Political Philosophy (Staff)


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