This course is an introductory, yet selectively focused, survey of classical and contemporary philosophical texts on politics and its formative impact on human possibilities: readings, lectures and discussions will centre around a series of key conceptual questions on Power (Part I) and Justice (Part II), organised by sub-themes such as class, contract, force, gender, people, praxis, race, rhetoric, sexuality and tyranny. In the course of approaching philosophical writings on political issues thematically rather than chronologically, students will obtain a theoretical overview and insight relatively quickly, while exploring his or her own particular interests along the way. Carefully selected and dialectically juxtaposed texts for each day of class, both required and recommended, will promote a group work and collaborative discussion in and outside class, and will also serve as a starting point for an individual research paper to be completed as the final paper for the course. Students will learn to skim through first a variety of texts introduced here, looking for key ideas and arguments; journal tasks drawing on class discussion are designed to help students locate and explore the philosophical vein of political thoughts.
By the time you take the final exam, you will:
- Understand a set of “big” traditional philosophical questions and theories related to the life of man, the "political animal," and be able to think more deeply, clearly and concretely than ever before about the tight relationship between politics and philosophy.
- Know how to formulate your own questions and ideas, in both dialogue and writing; intellectual plurality and originality, if well-justified and grounded, will be rewarded.
- Have learned first hand how to read logically, effectively and critically with a purpose and an original perspective, which should help you also "read" the current political picture, or climate, both locally and globally.
- Have developed, to a significant degree, a solid and detailed understanding of at least one area of political philosophy; solid enough to write an original and scholarly paper worthy of publication in standard undergraduate research journals.
1. [PPVSI] Miller, Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (2003, OUP)
2. [RGS] Anderson, Race, Gender, and Sexuality: Philosophical Issues of Identity and Justice (2002, Prentice Hall)
3. No less than 70% of reading in this course is in the form of articles, book chapters, electronic library material or excerpts.
- All of the reading materials listed on the schedule page, both required and recommended, are also available in print (my office/my library box on reserve/library stack where indicated), online (hyperlink/LC Elec Lib), or downloadable (if short enough). What that means, simply, is that you have no excuse not to do the reading.
- All of the required readings are available either by hyperlink or by file download to the political philosophy folder on your computer (create it, now!)
- Some of the recommended readings are too large to be uploaded, so please [request a file transmission] individually and personally, if you wish to have a pdf electronic copy rather than, or as well as, a paper copy in my office/my library box on reserve. An appropriate method of file transmission that also respects copyright will be discussed then case by case.
- I am pleased to inform you that, as of September 2005, most of the major works of Michel Foucault and Noam Chomsky are now available in hard copy in the LaGrange library stack; those wishing to write on a topic related to either or both of them are strongly advised to utilise this fantastic resource.
Course Requirements: You must also read FAQs re Grading for further important details
NB: All submissions and class activities must be in compliance with the honor code to which you pledge.
(05%) Attending : the College’s policy and conventional rules apply.
3 excused & 3 unexplained absences are allowed, but beyond that 6,
1 full grade drops automatically per class missed, e.g., from A to B, down to F.
(15%) Presenting: scheduled formal presentation: all presentations will be graded on the scale of 1 to 5.
(20%) Participating in class activities, discussions and other group activities
(10%) Coming to class prepared and Speaking intelligently: reticence or shyness will have to be complemented otherwise.
(10%) Documenting class activities and conducting other contributory activities: designated writing and delivery of précis.
Note: Towards the break, and the final, there is a class vote that identifies most substantial and responsible contributors:
two top contributors, announced on the spot in class, will each receive 2 bonus points.
(20%) Journal Writing (10 out of 20: 2 points per submission that satisfies the minimum standards - if not, graded 0/0.5/1.0/1.5)
Once the graded journal has been returned, you can rewrite and resubmit it repeatedly within the unit period until satisfied.
cf. If you wish to start writing your final paper instead, you can use this as a draft for it, but still in that case
(1) the same rules regarding final exam/paper applies regarding the required number of words/pages and level of work, and
(2) the final paper is to be a significant improvement in all aspects: content, style, argument and number of pages.
(20%) Final Exam: One Polished Research Paper (15-20 pg paper) worthy of publication in undergraduate journals.
NB: Observe all deadlines religiously, as if you were literally dying. All the deadlines are firm and non-negotiable;
any paper turned in after the class period will be assessed a penalty of one letter grade for the submission per day late.
Grading Scale: A=100-90; B=89.99-80; C=79.99-70; D=69.99-60; F=59.99-0.
All the grades up to the final exam or paper are calculated numerically in order to give each student maximum opportunities to recuperate from any undesirable or accidental loss of points, and to evaluate more precisely the learning process and incremental achievements. The total figure will simply be converted to the corresponding letter grade. Therefore, there is very little reason either to rejoice or to despair at any stage of following the course. Just keep putting coins in the piggy bank, and your consistent and overall efforts will be justly rewarded: you reap what you sow, no less, no more. See FAQs for further details.