Monday, July 28, 2008


I've never before taught the same class in the spring of one academic year and in the fall of the immediately following year. Add in the fact that I was doing strike-disrupted grading until June, and it feels much too soon to be thinking about this course again. But September 3 isn't so terribly far away.

Hm. What to cut, and how to reconfigure?

"Why to obey" and "how to rule" should be disentangled in Part I of the syllabus. Social contract theory should be moved out of the liberalism-conservatism-socialism part of the course and back to the "why to obey" section.

On the one hand, maybe all the ancient material should be dropped; it's an intro to "modern political thought," after all. On the other hand, maybe what should be dropped is most of Parts II and III, with Part I plus social contract theory plus some case studies, stretched out over the semester.

Possibly add some Foucault, Discipline, alongside Hayek and Dewey on governance and knowledge.

More Bentham. But possibly drop Mill altogether? That would be strange, but it may be the right answer.


The idea that books need to be ordered soon is most distressing.


Political Science 232: Modern Political Thought, Fall 2008, PRELIMINARY DRAFT syllabus.

1.September 3: Introduction

Part I. Ethics and Politics

2. September 5:
Thoreau, “Resistance to Civil Government” [appearing under the modern title “Civil Disobedience”]
Excerpt from Martin Luther King, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

3. September 8:
CP: Max Weber, “Politics as a Vocation,” in Gerth and Mills, eds., From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, Oxford University Press, 1958 [1919] pp. 77-128

4. September 10:
Sophocles, Antigone, entire

5. September 12:
Plato, “Crito” and “The Apology”

6. September 15-17
Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. 8-26

September 17-19: Conferences begin

7. September 22:
CP: Michael Walzer, “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands” Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 2, No. 2. (Winter, 1973), pp. 160-180.
Stable URL:

8. September 24-26:
CP: Bernard Williams, “A Critique of Utilitarianism,” in Smart & Williams, Utilitarianism, for and against, Cambridge University Press, pp. 93-118.
Williams, “Politics and Moral Character,” and Thomas Nagel, “Ruthlessness in Public Life,” in Stuart Hampshire, ed., Public and Private Morality, Cambridge University Press, pp. 56-73 and 75-91

9. September 29:
CP: Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, University of Chicago Press, 1996, pp. 19-38
Thucydides, “The Melian Dialogue,” from History of the Peloponnesian War

10. October 1-3:
CP: Robert Nozick, “The Tale of the Slave,” from Anarchy, State, and Utopia, pp. 290-2.
Robert Paul Wolff, In Defense of Anarchism, University of California Press, 1970, pp. 3-19

Aristotle, The Politics, Everson ed., Cambridge University Press, pp. 65-8 and 170-1

11. October 6:
CP: F. A. Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” The American Economic Review, Vol. 35, No. 4. (Sep., 1945), pp. 519-530.
Stable URL:
John Dewey, The Political Writings, Hackett, pp. 158-60, 169-72

12. October 8-10:
CP: Michael Oakeshott, “Rationalism in Politics,” in Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, Liberty Fund, pp. 5-43
Jeremy Bentham, Bentham’s Handbook of Anarchical Fallacies, pp. 43-51, 131-5, 193-205

Part II. Liberty

October 13: NO CLASS

13. October 15-17.
CP: Plato, The Republic, Allan Bloom trans., pp. 235-242 (557a-564a), 251-60 (571a-579e)

14. October 20.
CP: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, in Gourevitch,ed., The Social Contract and Other Later Political Writings, Cambridge University Press, pp. 49-54, 59-64, 121-2 (I.6-8, II.3-4, IV.1)
Benjamin Constant, “The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with That of the Moderns,” in Biancamaria Fontana, ed., Constant: Political Writings, Cambridge University Press, pp. 309-28

15. October 22-24.
CP: Isaiah Berlin, “Two Concepts of Liberty,” in Four Essays on Liberty, Oxford University Press, pp. 119-54

16. October 27.
CP: Berlin, “Two Concepts,” pp. 154-72.
Charles Taylor, “What’s Wrong With Negative Liberty,” in Philosophical Papers vol 2: Philosophy and the Human Sciences, pp. 211-29

Part III. Ideas, ideals, and ideologies: what shall we do?

19. October 29-31:
CP: John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government, Cambridge University Press, pp. 269-78, 330-63, ch. 2, 8-11
Declaration of American Independence


21. November 3:
CP: David Hume, “Of the Original Contract,” in Essays Moral, Political, and Literary, Liberty Fund, pp. 465-88
Hume, Political Writings, Hackett, pp. 51-73 [Treatise of Human Nature III.8-10]
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Conservative,” in Essays & Lectures, Library of America, pp. 173-89

22. November 5-7:
CP: Oakeshott, “On Being Conservative,” in Rationalism in Politics, pp. 407-37

23. November 10:
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, ch. 1-2

24. November 12-14:
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, ch. 3-5

25. November 17:
CP: John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, Harvard University Press, 1971, pp. 3-33 and 54-65

26. November 19:

No conferences the week of November 17.

27. November 26.
CP: Karl Marx, “On the Jewish Question,” in Tucker, ed., The Marx-Engels Reader, pp. 26-52
“The Communist Manifesto,” sections 1 and 2, pp. 469-91

28. November 28-30.
CP: Publius, The Federalist Papers, Rossiter ed., Signet, pp. 66-79, 297-322 (#s 9-10, 47-51
And review: Rousseau reading from February 14-16
Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

29. December 1:
John Stuart Mill, Considerations on Representative Government, ch. 16, “Of Nationality.”

30. December 2:
CP: Isaiah Berlin, “The Pursuit of the Ideal,” in The Crooked Timber of Humanity, Vintage, pp. 1-19
George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” in The Orwell Reader, Harvest, pp. 355-66