POL 396 - Seminar in Political Philosophy
Credits: 3 in fall and winter, 4 in spring
Prerequisite: POL 111 or instructor consent. An examination of selected questions and problems in political philosophy and/or political theory. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.
Winter 2020, POL 396A-01: Seminar in Political Philosophy: Tocqueville (3). Prerequisite: POL 111 or instructor consent. Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, perhaps the most penetrating, insightful and comprehensive book ever written on American politics, provides a useful guide for examining the nature of the American regime: in particular, the nature of a liberal regime, with its emphasis on rights and its tendency to ignore responsibilities or duties. We explore many contemporary political and policy debates in light of Tocqueville's thought. Does religion have a role in politics? What is the responsibility of the press in a free society? Are political parties part of the problem or part of the solution? Do political and civil associations matter? What role is there in America for philosophy, art, literature, and science? What is the proper relationship between a university and a liberal polity? And what is the appropriate posture for intellectuals and artists toward a liberal regime? What is the connection between laws, manners, and morals? What role do gender and race play in American politics today? What is the proper balance between economics, commerce, and politics in a liberal society? Are liberal democratic regimes effective in the conduct of war and foreign policy? And finally and most importantly, as Americans who are we? (SS2) Connelly.
Fall 2019: POL 396A-01: Seminar in Political Philosophy: Gandhi and His Critics (3). Prerequisite: POL 111. Who was Mahatma Gandhi, and how should we think of him as a political activist and thinker? Interestingly, Gandhi continues to be one of the most admired and influential, yet polarizing, figures in modern political theory. His ideas and activism have motivated an intense, sympathetic following as well as ardent critics on topics such as colonialism, political leadership, caste politics, and gender relations. In this course, we carefully examine Gandhi's influences, political activity and writings, and some of the most significant criticisms of his ideas in pre- and post-independence India. We also explore how Gandhian ideas have been used in creative ways to address pressing contemporary issues. Examining Gandhi through the medium of literature, scholarship, and film, we unpack the tremendous complexity of Gandhian political thought, its impact, and how we should view Gandhi in the 21st century. (SS2) Gray.
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