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
John Rawls, Civil Disobedience
Andrew Sable, Looking Forward to Justice
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
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September 10 2012
Introduction to Political Theory
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
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?
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?
- 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
- 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
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,
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
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.
- Came from old, powerful Athenian family
- Founded philosophical school called the Academy
- Influenced by Socrates
- Author of The Republic
- What is justice?
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
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
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.
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