[POSC 20203] Comprehensive fall guide including any lecture notes, textbook notes and exam guides.find more resources at oneclass.com
“Live You Can Save” by Peter Singer
Introduction to Political Theory
What is Political Theory?
• Political science seeks explanations for political phenomena
o Under what conditions are democracies likely to emerge?
o What factors influence law-abidingness?
o Why has the gap between rich and poor widened so dramatically in the past 30
• Political theory is different. In political theory, we explore and construct standards for
evaluating political and social institutions from the moral or normative point of view
o Is democracy justified?
o Should you obey the law?
o Is economic inequality unjust?
Political Authority (Unit 1)
• Does the state have the right to rule?
• Do we have moral obligations to obey?
• Is a stateless society – anarchism – desirable?
Freedom (Unit 2)
• What is freedom?
• Does the government promote or undermine freedom?
• How much freedom should we have?
• What is the relationship between money and freedom?
Economic Justice (Unit 3)
• The world’s richest 1% own more than the bottom 3 billion
• The 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million
• 22% of U.S. children live below the poverty line
• Is there anything wrong with this picture? (stair stepping cartoon)
How are we going to study political theory?
o Expose yourself to uncomfortable ideas
o This will be hard. But you can do it!
• With intellectual openness and curiosity
o Entertain new ideas – expand your horizons
• With integrity and authenticity
o Say what you believe – but strive for justified beliefs
Singer’s Thought Experiment
• On the way to work you pass a shallow pond in which a small child is drowning. No one
else is around. If you wade into the pound to save the child, you’ll ruin your expensive
shoes and clothes, and you’ll be late for work. Should you save the child?
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