PHIL 324: Modern Western Political Theory

PHIL 324-002: Modern Western Pol Thry
(Fall 2021)

01:30 PM to 02:45 PM MW

Planetary Hall 124

Section Information for Fall 2021

This course will explore three philosophers (Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau) who ground what has come to be known as social contract theory.  Through a close reading of key texts we will explore the philosophical underpinnings of these theories: Metaphysical Materialism (Hobbes), Natural Law (Locke) and Philosophical Anthropology (Rousseau).  In each case we will be examining what it means to be a person, what it means to enter into a contract and how this is possible.  We will also be looking closely at the question of ‘nature’ as it appears in each of these thinkers’ works.  For Hobbes, natural law and physical law are coextensive; for Locke natural law and God’s law are tightly bound; for Rousseau, human nature becomes a foundational object of philosophy.  As a philosophy course, we will focus on the philosophy that drives these projects and grounds the practical side of these theories.  In addition, we will examine the implications of these philosophical grounds with respect to issues such as gender, race and colonialism.


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Exploration through lecture and discussion of developments in the Western tradition of political thought from the Renaissance to the middle of the 19th century, focusing on such topics as the rise of individualism in political theory, early developments in social contact theory, theories of radical popular sovereignty, and early criticisms of liberal theory. Equivalent to GOVT 324.
Recommended Prerequisite: GOVT 101 or three credits of philosophy.
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

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