Course description and goals

This course is designed to further your ability to think critically about fundamental issues in political thought. We will examine a wide variety of texts, from the works of Sophocles, Plato, and Aristotle to the works of Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Karl Marx. As we explore these works, we will consider such themes as the nature of law and justice, the nature of human beings, freedom, the relationship between law and conscience, and appropriate forms of government.

In addition to gaining a working familiarity with key texts in the Western tradition of political philosophy, students will have the opportunity to develop the following skills throughout the semester:

  • asking good questions about the texts we read
  • writing clear, thoughtful essays exploring various aspects of our readings
  • locating good sources to increase understanding of our texts
  • making use of appropriate tools (e.g. Google Documents, Zotero) for research, writing, and communication[1. Those interested in why I ask students to make use of digital tools in what is in many ways a very traditional course might wish to read this post from ProfHacker.]

Assignments for the course are designed to assist students in developing these skills.

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