Political Science 160

Fall 2000

  Introduction to Political Philosophy

Republics & Revolutions

Professor: Kimberly Smith

Willis 418

Phone: x-4123

Email: ksmith@carleton.edu

Office Hours

This course surveys Western political thought. We will focus in particular on the republican tradition, the oldest and most influential body of democratic theory in the Western canon, and the liberal challenge to and synthesis with republicanism. Topics will include revolution and the problem of political stability, the relationship between the citizen and the state, the virtues and vices of democracy, social contract and consent theory, gender as a category of political thought, and myriad others too numerous to mention.

This is a lecture and discussion course, with a strong emphasis on discussion. You are expected to complete the readings before class and come prepared to participate in a lively and thoughtful manner.


**Other readings are on reserve

Your grade will be calculated as follows:

Summary of Aristotle:


Summary of Pitkin:




Reflective paper:




*There are no exams. All papers may be rewritten as often as you like for a new grade.

Participation: Your participation grade will be based on the frequency and thoughtfulness of your contributions to class discussion. Attendance alone does not count as participation.

Summary of Aristotle Bk I: You will prepare a concise, accurate summary of the text. You should identify and explain the theorist's most important points. Your summary may not exceed 3 pages (12-pt font, 1" margins). This exercise will develop your ability to understand a complex text, identify its central arguments and communicate them simply and accurately. Critical analysis of the text is not part of this assignment.

Summary of Pitkin: Pitkin is on reserve at the library. You should summarize the author's central thesis. The summary may not exceed 3 pages (12-pt font, 1" margins). Critical analysis of the text is not part of this assignment.

Paper: Your paper should be 7-10 pages (12-pt font, 1" margins). It should address at least three of the theorists discussed in this course. I will be looking for the ability to summarize theoretical arguments concisely and accurately, to critically evaluate those arguments, and to relate the texts to one another. Your paper should have a thesis and your argument should be supported with quotes and examples from the texts. You may choose your topic from the list provided, or you can write about something else as long as you clear it with me first.

I encourage you to turn in your paper before the due date, so that you'll have time to rewrite it.

Reflective paper: This will be a short (3 page) reflective (rather than analytic) paper on a topic to be assigned.

Suggested paper topics:

  1. Many of the texts we examine in this course focus on the problem of political stability. Compare and contrast three texts on this question. Does the author consider political stability a problem? How does he propose we deal with it?
  2. Using Locke or the Federalist papers and one republican theorist (Aristotle, Machiavelli, Rousseau) compare liberalism and republicanism on the question of the citizen's relationship to the state. What are the citizen's duties, if any, toward the state? What is the state's responsibilities, if any, toward the citizen?
  3. Does the ideal republican citizen have to be a man? Consider how at least three of the following theorists would answer that question: Aristotle, Machiavelli, Locke, Rousseau.
  4. Liberalism has been criticized on the grounds that it puts too much emphasis on individual property rights, which makes it difficult for liberal regimes to justify redistribution of wealth and regulations designed to protect the environment. Drawing on Locke and the Federalist Papers, evaluate this argument.
  5. What, if anything, is wrong with simple democracy? Consider the critiques and defenses of democracy offered by at least three of the writers considered in this class.
  6. One could argue that equality is a central value in both the republican and liberal tradition. How do these traditions differ in their treatment of equality? What do liberal and republican theorists mean by equality, respectively, and how do they differ on why equality is important? In answering this question you should draw on at least one liberal and one republican theorist.
  7. Compare and contrast Aristotle, Machiavelli and Locke on the question of revolution. What produces revolutions? Under what circumstances is it justified?
Course Outline

I. Introduction

Class 1: Introduction to political theory
Plamenatz/Skinner [handout]

II. Athenian Democracy

Class 2: Sinclair, Democracy and Participation in Athens (selection) [on reserve]
Phillips, Looking Backward (selection) [on reserve]

Class 3: Plato, Apology

Class 4: Plato, Crito

Class 5: Trial of Socrates

Class 6: Aristotle, The Politics, Bk I

Class 7: Aristotle Bk III, ch. 1-13

*Summary of Aristotle, Bk I due

Class 8: Aristotle Bk IV ch. 2, 9, 11

Class 9: Aristotle Bk V ch. 1-11

III. The Florentine Republic

Class 10: Machiavelli, The Prince, preface - Ch. 15

Class 11: The Prince, Ch. 16 - end

Class 12: Pitkin, Fortune is a Woman, Ch. 6 [on reserve]

*Summary of Pitkin, Fortune is a Woman, Ch. 6 due

Class 13: Discourses on Livy, Bk I, Ch. 1 - 10, 17, 18

Class 14: Bk II, Intro - Ch. 4; Bk III Ch. 1- 9

*Trial of Machiavelli

IV. The English Republic

Class 15: Locke, Second Treatise of Government, Ch. 1 - 6

Class 16: Locke, Ch. 7 - 10

Class 17: Locke, Ch. 11 - 16

Class 18: Locke, Ch. 17 - 19

Class 19: MacPherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, pp. 194-220 [on reserve]

V. The American Republic

Class 20: Declaration of Independence [on reserve]

Class 21: Federalist Papers 9-10, 37-39, 51, 57 [on reserve]

Class 22: Federalist Papers cont.

Class 23: Debate on the American Revolution

VI. The French Republic

Class 24: Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, pp. 57 - 81

Class 25: Rousseau, Part One

Class 26: Rousseau, Part Two

*last day to turn in paper

Class 27: Rousseau cont.

Class 28: Smith, Political Science and Political Philosophy

*Reflective paper due