McMaster University Fall 2009 I
Political Science 1GO6
Politics and Government
Lectures: Thursdays and Fridays, 11:30a.m.-12:20 p.m.
Room: TSH 120
Instructor: Todd Alway Office: KTH, room 538
Telephone: 525-9140 ext. 23886 Office Hours: Monday 12-3 p.m.
E-Mail: email@example.com Or by appointment
Terms like liberty, democracy, nation, and capitalism are frequently used in everyday
discussion. However, our opinions on these subjects are frequently formed without any
conscious reflection upon the history of these institutions, the systems of thought upon
which they draw, or the benefits and privileges that they confer or withhold. Moreover,
political events are oftentimes discussed as if they were solely local, national, or global in
their inspiration and implication.
In this course we will examine many of the ideas and institutions that we tend to take for
granted in our discussions of political life. We will attempt to discern the paths along
which political institutions have evolved, the actors who have promoted and resisted
them, and the local, national, and international consequences of our present political
In order to fully comprehend the lectures, the relevant weekly readings must be
completed prior to each class. Comprehension of the weekly readings will be tested both
by in-class discussion and through active participation in tutorial groups.
Please note that many of the concepts covered in lecture will not be covered in the
required readings and vice versa. It is imperative that lectures are attended and that
readings are completed.
By the end of the course, students will be expected to have developed a theoretically and
historically informed understanding of the topics covered. Students should be able to
discuss contemporary political issues in light of a broader appreciation of the social,
political, and historical forces at play.
Participation in tutorial groups will account for 10% of your grade for this term.
Remember, participation is not synonymous with attendance. A successful grade is
dependent upon your ability to regularly and intelligently contribute to group discussion.
Tutorial groups will focus on clarifying and applying the material discussed in lecture.
This might include a discussion of contemporary political conflicts, but in light of the
historical and theoretical perspectives associated with the issue.
The start date for tutorials will be announced in class.
Written work for this semester will consist of two short papers and a final exam:
Each student will prepare and submit a 6-8 page paper that answers the following
On what grounds does John Stuart Mill advocate for free speech? Does he suggest that
there are limitations to this right to free expression? Review the episode of TVO’s The
Agenda cited below. How would Mill respond to the speech issue in this case? Do you
agree with his likely response?
In answering this question you should focus primarily on On Liberty. The main goal here
is to test your ability to read through, summarize, and interpret a work of serious political
This paper is worth 25% of your term grade. It is due in your tutorial the week of
October 5-9, 2009.
Each student will prepare and submit an 8-10 page argumentative essay that answers one
of the following questions:
Why does democracy take root in some locations but not in others?
In what ways are environmental issues political issues? What, if anything, can be done to
solve environmental problems in light of these political issues?
Has globalization increased or decreased international inequality? Why or why not?
Should democracy be extended to the international realm? What problems are likely to
result from any such attempt?
Are rights, rewards, and representation skewed against women, even in liberal-
democratic societies like Canada?
How democratic is Canada’s electoral system? What, if anything, can be done to
enhance democracy in Canada?
Discuss the topic that interests you with your TA prior to the paper due date! S/he will
help you to develop a plan of action.
Please note that you are required to develop an academic argument here. This is not
intended to be an exercise in opinion formation but of political science. This means
developing a thesis and finding suitable evidence to support that thesis. It also means
considering alternative explanations for the phenomenon in question, and then countering
those alternatives. In other words, your paper must acknowledge that there are those who
might contest your thesis - and successfully defend itself against those objections.
While we will be discussing some of these questions in class over the course of the term,
the lectures are just the starting point insofar as your paper is concerned. Simply
summarizing the lecture will not be sufficient. You may, in fact, disagree with the
position taken in class – if so demonstrate why an alternative position may answer the
question more adequately.
This paper is worth 30% of your term grade. It is due in your tutorial the week of
November 16-20, 2009.
There will be a final exam that will cover material from both the lectures and the required
readings. This is worth 35% of your term grade.
Class Participation: 10%
Essay 1: 25% - Due in tutorial the week of October 5-9, 2009
Essay 2: 30% - Due in tutorial the week of November 16-20, 2009
Final Exam: 35% - To be scheduled during the official examination period
The required readings for the lectures are drawn from three places. In the first place they
are drawn from the required textbooks:
Dickerson, Mark, and Flanagan, Thomas, An Introduction to Government and Politics,
eighth edition, Toronto: Thomson Nelson, 2010.
Kegley, Charles W., and Raymond, Gregory A., The Global Future: A Brief Introduction
to World Politics, Third edition, Toronto: Thomson Nelson, 2010
I have also included several articles that are accessible on-line. These articles can be
obtained via the library catalogue (by looking up the journal on Morris) or through
You are also required to purchase:
Mill, John Stuart, On Liberty – any edition is acceptable
Your first paper will be based on this book.
September 10-11, 2009: Introduction – What is Political Science
Dickerson and Flanagan, Introduction, Chapters 1, 2: pp xxiii-xxxiv, 3-28
September 17-18, 2009: Democracy - What is democracy? What are the limits to
contemporary democracy? Can and should democracy be extended to the
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapter 17: pp235-261
Held, David, “Democracy: From city states to a cosmopolitan order?” Political Studies,
XL, Special Issue, 1992, pp10-39 – available on-line
September 24-25, 2009: Liberty – Should individual freedom be the paramount
principle upon which society is constructed? Should there be limitations to free
speech? Should there be limitations on the “free market”?
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapter 10: pp126-144
By this point you should also have read:
Mill, John Stuart, On Liberty
October 1-2, 2009: Equality - Can we have true equality in a complex modern
society? Are political outcomes determined by unequal economic processes?
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapter 12: pp160-179
October 8, 2009: Conservatism – Is there an organic wisdom in tradition?
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapter 11: pp145-159
October 9, 2009: Patriarchy - What are the political implications of gender? Are
rights, rewards, and representation skewed against women? What does
globalization mean for gender inequality around the world?
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapter 14: pp198-214
October 15-16, 2009: Development - What accounts for the tremendous and growing
disparity in wealth between states? What causes development and
underdevelopment? Should development be defined solely as an increase in
Kegley and Raymond, Chapter 5, pp97-127
October 22, 2009: The Politics of the Environment – Is the planet facing an
environmental crisis? To what extent is the environmental problem a political
problem? Will a planetary solution require a planetary government?
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapters 15: pp215-225
Kegley and Raymond, Chapter 14, pp345-373
October 23-30, 2009: States, societies, and forms of government – What types of
political and social systems have emerged in the modern era? Does the comparative
method permit us to better understand those systems? Has globalization eroded the
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapter 3: pp30-52
Scholte, Jan Art, “What is Globalization? The Definitional Issue – Again,” CSGR
Working Paper No. 109/02, December 2002
November 5-6, 2009: Nation: What is the relationship between the nation and the
state? Should all nations have their own state? What are the consequences of
treating “the nation” as the relevant political community? Should territory be the
primary basis on which societies and politics are organized?
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapters 4, 13: pp41-50, 180-197
November 12-13, 2009: Democratic Political Systems – Democratic countries rely
upon different institutional methods to determine the “will of the people.” Given
this, are some countries more genuinely democratic than others? Should Canada
reform its institutions along the lines of other states? What effect does national
democracy have on international behaviour? Are democratic states less likely to go
to war against other democratic states?
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapter 25: pp404-428
Rosato, Sebastian, “The Flawed Logic of Democratic Peace Theory,” American Political
Science Review, 97, 4, 2003, pp585-602 – available on-line
November 19-20, 2009: Autocratic Political Systems - Has authoritarianism proven
to be more successful in promoting internal peace or development?
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapter 19: pp280-298
Mayer, Robert, “Strategies of justification in authoritarian ideology,” Journal of Political
ideologies, 6, 2, 2001, pp147-168 – available on-line
November 26, 2009: Transitional Societies – Is there a historical trend towards
democratization and free markets? Why does democracy take root in some
locations but not in others? How genuinely democratic and free are those societies
that have recently transitioned towards democracy?
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapter 18: pp262-279
Carothers, Thomas, “The ‘Sequencing’ Fallacy,” Journal of Democracy, 18, 1, 2007,
pp12-27 – available on-line
November 27, 2009: Political Culture – What effects does culture have on political
and social outcomes? What is the relationship between democracy and culture?
What is the relationship between development and culture? Is there a relationship
between culture and the tendency of societies to peacefully coexist?
Dickerson and Flanagan, Chapter 5, pp53-60
Huntington, Samuel, “Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, 72, 3, 1993, pp22-49 –
December 3-4, 2009: Review
Academic dishonesty consists of misrepresentation by deception or by other fraudulent
means and can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment,
loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for
academic dishonesty”) and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.
It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For
information on the various kinds of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic
Integrity Policy, specifically Appendix 3, located at
The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:
1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other
credit has been obtained.
2. Improper collaboration in group work.
3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.
The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term.
The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme
circumstances. If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and
communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment
on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course
websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.