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POLS 250 Notes (September 10 - October 29)

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Queen's University
Political Studies
POLS 250
Colin Farrelly

Great Dialogues of Plato o The Republic, pp.139-197 o The Apology, pp.502-531 o Crito, pp.532-548 Modern Political Thought o Leviathan, pp. 158-193 o Second Treatise of Government, pp. 285-299 o Discourse on the Origin of Inequality The Social Contract pp. 371-497 Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities [Moodle] John Rawls, Civil Disobedience Andrew Sable, Looking Forward to Justice Aristotle o Nicomachean Ethics, pp. 1-32 o Politics, pp. 1-26 Elizabeth Dunn, Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness Martin Nowak, Why We Help Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid SB Drury, Locke and Nozick on Property Bruce Hood, Passion for Possessions David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature 1 of 30 th September 10 2012 Introduction to Political Theory 1. Why? 2. What? Why study the history of political thought? Instrumental vs Intrinsic value Instrumental: Valued for other things it does What will it get you? Intrinsic: Valued for its own sake Understanding our past can help us better prepare for the future. Sub-disciplines of political science - Canadian Politics - Comparative Politics - Political Theory - International Relations What is political theory? - Normative discipline (theory) - Describing what ought to be the case - Invokes concepts and ideals to help us evaluate legitimate function of government - Not simply about memorizing theorists, but critical analytic skill Example: Is an indirect transfer of wealth from Martha to Bob morally justified? What if Bob needed an organ, not money? Does that change your position? Why? Why not? Question of morality What constitutes a good society? Good qualities? Bad qualities? What should the evaluative criteria be? Where do these criteria come from? How much liberty (Mill)? How much wisdom and virtue (Plato and Aristotle)? How much equality and self-government (Rousseau)? How much patriarchy (Wollstonecraft)? Theme song to each thinker Check out the song compilations on Moodle 2 of 30 3 Approaches to Political Thought 1. History of Political thought [Skinner] Context of the political thinker (e.g. Hobbes) 2. Political Ideologies [Freeden] Link important thinkers together (e.g. liberals, socialists, conservatives, etc) 3. Political Philosopher Combine concerns from 1 + 2 Central aim is evaluative What is of value in what these philosophers thought? Right? Wrong? Plato History Athenian Democracy th th - Classical Greece: the democratic city-state (Athens, 4 and 5 century BC) - Turbulent time, lot of conflict and war - Composed of small city-states, rather than a country - Polis meaning city state - Citizenship only Athenian man, may join army th - Less than 1/10 was a citizen - Ruling council had 500 members - Democratic order had to satisfy 6 requirements o Citizens have to be sufficiently harmonious in interests common good o Must be homogenous in other economic, religion, ethnicity, prosperity, language No multiculturalism! o Citizen body must be small in size o Must be able to assemble and directly decide on laws and policies o Participation also meant participating in admin of city o City-state must remain autonomous (self-sufficient politically, economically, militarily) Athens and Sparta (Peloponnesian War) Sparta: Oligarchy (ruled by few) and military state. Conservative versus Athens. Less adaptive. Contrast with Athens: innovative and experimental Democratic institutions permitted it to address a constantly changing and often challenge menu of options. Diverse knowledge [not just military expertise]: help realize security and economic prosperity Rise of the Sophists 3 of 30 - Skilled public orators (speakers), one prominent sophist is Thrasymachus - Give lessons (for a fee) on public speaking, how to win an argument, political influence, much sought after in Greece and famous and rich Plato: sophists were arrogant, shallow and promoted dangerous ideas Democracy was vulnerable as masses could be swayed by those who pretended to have knowledge and wisdom Philosopher who is the person who values truth. Plato (427-347BC) - Came from old, powerful Athenian family - Founded philosophical school called the Academy - Influenced by Socrates - Author of The Republic - What is justice? Socrates Socratic method poses a question, someone gives answer, he dissects answer Can it withstand public scrutiny? Subject to rigorous and logical analysis Jacques-Louis David: The Death of Socrates (1787) Charged with corrupting minds to young Athenians Charged to drink hemlock Kill the wise, leave the ignorant The Republic Main Characters: 1. Socrates (represents Platos position) 2. Cephalus (dialogue takes place in his house) Keff-phil-liss 3. Polemarchus (son of Cephalus) Poly-marcus 4. Thrasymachus (influential sophist) Thra-see-me-kiss 5. Glaucon (Platos older brother) Glau-con What is Justice? Answer#1 Answer #1: Cephalus: Justice is telling the truth and returning anything we borrowed. Socrates: Example of borrowing a weapon. Refutes #1 While we can tell kids to tell the truth and etc, there are exceptions to the rule. 4 of 30
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