The Social Contract and Its Critics by ojp65951


									                                                 ***Updated 11/2 /04**

The Social Contract and Its Critics
Political Studies 101

Professor Steven V. Mazie
Department of Social Sciences
Bard High School Early College
Fall 2004

Course website:
Office: Room 408

Tuesday, Thursday & Friday
Period 6 (1:55 – 2:45); Period 7 (2:50 – 3:40)

Course Description
In the Declaration of Independence, the American founders famously asserted that
governments “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This course attempts
to make sense of this proposition, to subject it to critical scrutiny, and to trace its applications
and implications in the real world, through study of some of the richest political philosophy
texts written in the modern era. How can we be both free and subject to the rule of
governments? Why should we obey our political leaders? Do we, in any meaningful way,
choose our governments? Among the concepts we will explore throughout the semester are
concepts of freedom, rights, equality and individuality; questions about human nature, choice,
reason, rationality and morality; and the uses and abuses of religion in politics. The nexus
between political theory and practice will be emphasized and explored. Readings from Hobbes,
Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Burke, Paine, Mill and the Federalist Papers; occasional films.
**Note: this course provides a good foundation for “Justice” and “Liberty and the Law” (Politics electives
likely to be offered in Spring 2005) and is suitable for students who have already taken one or both of
these courses.**

This is not a course for those seeking to sit back and relax. The course invites you not only to
read and study political theory but do political theory — to ask the kinds of questions political
philosophers ask, to think (hard), to find connections between political theory and
contemporary political practice and to propose and defend your own answers in class
discussions, assignments and examinations.

Tuesdays and Thursdays will typically begin with a short explanation and analysis of several
aspects of the day’s reading assignment; the bulk of the time will be reserved for questions and
discussion. Most Fridays will be devoted entirely to discussion and further reflection on the
readings. The objective of the informal lectures is to help familiarize you with some of the ideas
raised in the reading and to introduce some puzzles in the texts; discussions are designed to
encourage you to critically assess those ideas, to think through the puzzles, and to form your
own insights. Though the format of the discussion periods will vary (small-group work, in-
class writing, debates, group-wide discussion, films), the purpose of each is to reflect on and
deepen our understanding of what we’ve been reading, to find connections and contrasts
among the authors, to test the theories against our intuitions and to see their relevance for the
real world of politics.

                                                       Page 1 of 6
“Gap Week”
Sometime in mid-October to early November (there are no certainties in these matters), I will be
absent from school for a week or so to help usher my first child into this world. This week I
have dubbed “Gap Week.” The Gap Week will be a three- or four-day island on which you will
frolic during our semester cruise through 17th and 18th century political philosophy and will
focus on an impending 21st century reality: the 2004 presidential election. The reading schedule
noted below will be suspended during my absence and will resume upon my return. How is
this possible with a finite number of weeks in our semester? By building in a Gap Week
Makeup period in Week 16. I will post a revised syllabus on the course website soon after the
conclusion of Gap Week, so you’ll see exactly how each day of the term will shape up. You
should print out this revised syllabus when it’s ready. Count on the Midterm exam being a week or
so later than listed on the syllabus, but before Thanksgiving Break.

You may not make any marks in the course texts provided by BHSEC. If you would like your
own copies (which I would strongly recommend), the books are cheap (well under $10 each)
and readily available. If you do choose to buy books, please buy these editions (note the
publisher) so we’ll all be on the same page.

Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. Edwin Curley (Hackett) [1651]
Locke, Second Treatise of Government and Letter Concerning Toleration (Dover) [1689, 1690]
Rousseau, The Social Contract (Prometheus) [1761]
Kant, Perpetual Peace and Other Essays, trans. Ted Humphrey (Hackett) [1784-1795]
Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (Hackett) [1790]
Paine, Rights of Man (Penguin Classics) [1791]
Mill, On Liberty, ed. Elizabeth Rapaport (Hackett) [1859]

Additional Readings
•   For our classes on Hume, please print out these four essays using the web links below.
    Number the paragraphs on each of your hard copies.

    Hume, “Of the First Principles of Government” [1741]
    Hume, “Of the Origin of Government” [1777]
    Hume, “Of the Original Contract” [1748]
    Hume, “Idea of the Perfect Commonwealth” [1754]

•   For our class on the Declaration of Independence [1776], bring your own copy or print one
    out from:

                                            Page 2 of 6
Preparation for class: CRUCIAL! Everyone must come to each class ready to participate. Prior to
each class each student must (1) complete the reading assignment listed on the syllabus for that
day; (2) jot down one or two questions for discussion; and (3) select at least one short passage
from the week’s readings that sparked particular interest or bewilderment. During discussion I
may ask students to share their questions and passages with the class. The goal is to identify
points of interest and difficulty in the course material; you should be prepared to articulate your
questions or problems, but you need not have thought through a response.

Reading and Discussion Questions: Your questions and quotations will be supplemented by
questions found on the course website. You are responsible for accessing the course website
each week, clicking on “Reading and Discussion Questions” and printing out the coming
week’s question sheet. You are responsible for bringing these questions, as well as the course
texts, to class. The questions should serve as guideposts for your reading and class
preparation. I will address some of the questions in lecture, and we will discuss some of them
as a seminar. Three times during the term you will submit short essays in response to an
assigned question (see “Writing Assignments” below).

                               Course Website:
   Bookmark it!

Pop Quizzes: Short unannounced quizzes on the day’s readings will be administered at the
beginning of class from time to time. The lowest score you receive will be dropped, so you can
miss or perform poorly on one quiz without compromising your grade.

Gap Week: Students will be responsible for submitting two short writing assignments during
Gap Week: a 1-2 page essay analyzing an article, and a 2-3 page report on a series of student-
conducted interviews. Details will be distributed on the first day of Gap Week.

Writing Assignments (in addition to Gap Week assignments):
   • one 2-3 page essay exploring the nature of choice using the documentary film “Devil’s
       Playground”; due: Friday, October 1.
   • one 4-6 page paper applying political theory to practice; proposal due: Tuesday,
       November 23; paper due: Thursday, December 16.
   • three 1-2 page response essays addressing the assigned weekly discussion question (to be
       announced each Friday for the coming week); due: three Tuesdays of your choice, at the
       beginning of class. (no response essays will be accepted late)

Exams: There will be a Midterm Exam in November and a Final Exam in January.

A very important note: Be sure to provide appropriate citations in all of your work! (1) Any
phrases appearing in your essays that are directly taken from another source must appear
within quotation marks AND be followed by a footnote or parenthetical reference. (2) Any
ideas that are taken from another source must be identified with a citation. (3) All listed
citations must be to sources you have researched. 4) All work submitted must be your own,
and must not be submitted for another class. Consequences for academic dishonesty include
automatic failure and additional sanctions. When in doubt if you are citing correctly, ask.


                                            Page 3 of 6
Attendance and Participation (*)                                                               20%
Quizzes                                                                                        10%
Essays (10% [due 10/1], 9% [3 response essays, 3% each], 16% [due 12/16])                      35%
Gap Week (1-2 pp. essay + commentary + 2-3 pp. interview report)                               10%
Final Exam                                                                                     25%

(*) Includes attendance and overall contributions to class discussion. Note that participation does not
mean simply talking in class. It means being well prepared, contributing thoughtfully to discussions,
listening carefully to others and engaging fellow students’ concerns and questions.

Calendar and Reading Assignments
[All readings are listed for the day by which you should have read them.]

Part I: Foundations

Week 1                      Introduction to the course
Tues. 9/21                  Starting from Scratch: Students Play Political Theorist
Thurs. 9/23                 Starting from Scratch: Presenting the Societies
Fri. 9/24                   U.S. Declaration of Independence [print from website]

Week 2                      Conceptualizing choice
Tues. 9/28                  Screening: “Devil’s Playground”; ** Essay 1 assigned **
Thurs. 9/30                 Screening: “Devil’s Playground” (cont.); film discussion
Fri. 10/1                   Presentation and discussion of essays on choice and the Amish
                            ** Essay 1 due **

Part II: Varieties of Social Contract Theory

Week 3                      Hobbes, Leviathan
Tues. 10/5                  Human Nature I — Part I: chs. 1-8 [pp. 1-47]
Thurs. 10/7                 Human Nature II — Part I: chs. 9-12 [pp. 47-74]
Fri. 10/8                   Hobbes discussion or film

Week 4                      Hobbes, Leviathan
Tues. 10/12                 Natural Law — Part I: chs. 13-16 [pp. 74 – 105]
Thurs. 10/14                From Anarchy to Contract — Part II: chs. 17-21 [pp. 106-145]
Fri. 10/15                  Film screening: “Lord of the Flies”

Week 5                      Gap Week—Choosing a President
Tues. 10/19                 Louis Menand article
Thurs. 10/21                Discussion of Menand article & student essays
Fri. 10/22                  Presentation of interviews on voter behavior

Week 6                      Hobbes, Leviathan
Tues. 10/26                 Study groups
Thurs. 10/28                Nurturing the Civil State — Part II: chs. 26-30 [pp. 172-233]
Fri. 10/29                  The Role of Religion — Part II: ch. 31; Part III: chs. 32, 33 [¶1, ¶¶21-25
                            only], 36 [¶¶19-20 only], 38-39, 43 [¶¶1-5, 22-24 only]; Part IV: ch.
                            47, “A Review and Conclusion” [pp. 233-244, 245-251, 259-261, 290-293, 301-
                            316, 397- 400, 408-410, 477-497]

                                                      Page 4 of 6
       ** Election Day: Tues., 11/2 - No school **

Week 7                Locke, Second Treatise of Government
Thurs., 11/4          Locke, Second Treatise: chs. 1-5; ch. 7: §§ 90-94, ch. 8: §§ 95-99, §§ 117-
                      122 chs. 9-11, 13-14, 18-19

       ** Year Two field trip: Fri., 11/5 – No class **

Week 8                Locke, Letter Concerning Toleration
Tues., 11/9           Locke, Letter Concerning Toleration (entire)
Fri., 11/12           Locke wrap-up

       ** Veterans Day: Thurs. 11/11- No school **

Week 9                Rousseau, Social Contract
Tues. 11/16           Rousseau, Books 1-2 [pp. 13-58]
Thurs. 11/18          Rousseau, Book 3; Book 4: chs. 1-3, 5-8
                      [pp. 59-64, 68-72, 79-92, 93-96, 103-110, 120-137]
Fri. 11/19            Rousseau discussion

Note: The Midterm has been nixed and the overall grading distribution has changed. Gap
Week assignments, Participation and the Final Exam are now all worth 5 percent more than
they were worth originally. See new distribution above.

Part III: Morality and the State

Week 10               Hume [**remember to print out these essays from course website links**]
Tues. 11/23           Hume, “The First Principles of Government ,” “Of the Origin of
                             Government,” “Of the Original Contract,”
                      ** Essay 2 Proposal Due **

       ** Thanksgiving Vacation: Thurs. 11/25 – Sun. 11/28**

Week 11               Kant
Tues. 11/30           Kant, “Idea for a Universal History With a Cosmopolitan Intent,”
                             “What is Enlightenment?”
Thurs. 12/2           Kant, “On the Proverb: That May Be True in Theory but Is of No
                             Practical Use”
Fri. 12/3             Kant discussion

Week 12               Kant
Tues. 12/7            Kant, Perpetual Peace
Thurs. 12/9           Kant, Perpetual Peace
Fri. 12/10            Kant discussion

Part IV: Revolutions and Rights

Week 13               Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France and Paine, Rights of Man
Tues. 12/14           Burke, Reflections [pp. 1-45]
Thurs. 12/16          Burke, Reflections [pp. 46-92, 216-218]; ** Essay 2 due **
Fri. 12/17            Paine, Rights of Man, Part I [pp. 33-93, 110-126, 140-147]

                                                Page 5 of 6
Week 14              Paine, Rights of Man
Tues. 12/21          Paine, Rights of Man, Part II [pp. 151–209]
Thurs. 12/23         Paine and Burke discussion

      ** Winter Break: Fri. 12/24 – Sun. 1/2/2005 **

Week 15              Mill, On Liberty
Tues. 1/4            Mill, On Liberty [pp. 1 – 52]
Thurs. 1/6           Mill, On Liberty [pp. 53 - 113]
Fri. 1/7             Mill debate

Week 16              The American Social Contract
Tues. 1/11           U.S. Declaration of Independence
Thurs. 1/13          Federalist Papers (selections TBA)
Fri. 1/14            Federalist Papers, continued

      ** Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Mon. 1/17 - No School **

Week 17              Last Week
Tues. 1/18           Review for Final Exam; Last Day of School

Final exams          Thurs. 1/20, Fri. 1/21, Mon. 1/24

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