Zirve University Department of Political Science and Public Administration pols 206-Modern Political Thought Spring 2014

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Zirve University

Department of Political Science and Public Administration

POLS 206-Modern Political Thought

Spring 2014
Instructor: Dr. Alper Y. DEDE

Class Hours: MON: 1:00-3:50 at 304 in The Rectorate Building

Office/Phone: The Rectorate Building, Room 412, Phone: 211-6666/6836

Office Hours: MON: 12:00-1:00, and WED: 1:00-2:00 & by appointment

E-mail: alper.dede@zirve.edu.tr

Class website: http://wiki.zirve.edu.tr/groups/economicsandadministrativesciences/

(Please click the POLS 206 link on the page)

Course Description:                       

This course will provide an overview of major figures and themes of modern political thought. The course will provide a more detailed study of major figures in the modern canon from the 17th to 19th centuries, reading significant selections from several of their most important works. This course introduces the students to some important authors in the history of political thought, including on those whose works have underpin the rise of liberalism in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The authors are Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and John Stuart Mill. Additionally, selected works of Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and Marx will be included.

In the process, we will explore more general themes and questions pertinent to political thought in the modern era, particularly focusing on the relationship of the individual to community, society, and state. Although the emergence of the individual as a central moral, political, and conceptual category arguably began in earlier eras, it is in the seventeenth century that it takes firm hold in defining the state, political institutions, moral thinking, and social relations. The centrality of "the individual" has created difficulties for community and social relations, and political theorists have struggled to reconcile those throughout the modern era. We will consider the political forms that emerged out of those struggles, as well as the changed and distinctly "modern" conceptualizations of political thought concepts such as freedom, responsibility, justice, rights and obligation, as central categories for organizing moral and political life.
In this course we will explore and discuss ancient and modern responses to questions such as: What is the relationship between philosophy and politics? What are the qualities of a good citizen? What is a political regime? Which is the best political regime? Who should rule? What are the qualities of a good ruler? What is the nature of man and how does this influence the arrangement of government? What is liberty? What is justice? What is the nature of private property? What is the relationship between history and politics? Can violence, hostility, and war be eliminated from history and politics? In answering these questions we will understand the differences between ancient and modern political philosophy. We will also understand how modern political philosophers differed from each other in the way they theorized about politics and its relationship with moral, socio-economic, and cultural aspects.
Course Objectives:          

This course has the following main objectives:

  1. To familiarize students with both concepts of political thoughts and political thinkers.

  2. To help students gain an insight on different assumptions and ideas concerning the nature of politics.

  3. To understand what political philosophy is, what are its main concerns, and its manner of answering them.

  4. To grasp the foundations of Western political philosophy.

  5. To learn about the specific concerns and ideas of modern political philosophy.

  6. To understand the differences (and the similarities) between ancient and modern political philosophy.

  7. To know the differences between modern approaches to politics.

  8. To comprehend diverse modern arguments about the nature of man, the nature of government, the role and limits of political power, and about the relationship between socio-economic and political factors.

  9. To become better readers, thinkers, speakers, and writers.

Required Texts (in alphabetical order):

Selected sections from the following books will constitute the class readings. These readings will be available at the course website in PDF format before the classes.

Hegel, G.W.F. Elements of the Philosophy of Right and The Essential Writings.

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan.

Kant, Immanuel. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals and Political Writings.

Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government.

Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. The Marx-Engels Reader.

Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty and Other Essays.

Montesquieu, Baron de. The Spirit of the Laws.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Genealogy of Morality.

Rousseau, Jean Jacques. Basic Political Writings, On the Social Contract and The First and Second Discourses.
Course Requirements: 

Students are expected to attend classes on a regular basis and participate in class discussions. All students must take the required exams and complete the projects on time; they also must read the assigned texts before coming to class for a thoughtful class discussion.

Announcements and the Class Website

This syllabus is a contract between the instructor and students. Once a student enrolls for this class and receives the syllabus from the instructor during the first week of classes (or once it is published at the class website), this contract is mutually accepted by both parties. You should regularly consult an updated copy of the class schedule and announcements at the class website at the following link:

You will see many announcements such as the required readings, assignments, paper topics, course outlines, review sheets and exam grades. Please check it regularly when you are preparing for each class. Because it is too difficult for me to send email to each one of you and keep track of everyone’s email address, announcements regarding class, changes to my offices hours, campus speakers, midterm, paper or final grades, etc., will be posted at the class website. It is crucial that you check the class website regularly (a few times a week). Please do not hesitate and feel free to contact me via email or by visiting me at my office with questions about the readings, assignments, and so forth. Please notify me in advance if you have a documented disability that requires accommodation.

I expect all the students to do the assigned readings for that day before they come to class, and to participate actively in class discussion. You are strongly encouraged to have discussions in the class about the subject therefore, I do not intend to only lecture for the full class period. You will get more out of class and it will be more interesting for all of us, if you are an active listener (both to me and your classmates) and thoughtful and respectful discussion participant, rather than a passive attendee. You are expected to act civilly and respectfully towards your classmates and me, and to respond to others’ comments in an intellectual and courteous manner and without hostility, even when you disagree (which may often be the case). In addition, you are expected to keep your comments succinct in order to allow other students the opportunity to express their views also. Furthermore, you are expected to ask questions whenever you do not understand something from the readings or something I or your classmates say in class. When you do the assigned readings, you should do more than just reading the material, you should also reflect on it and take a few notes on the main arguments and concepts/terms employed by the author(s).


Attendance is not required, however regular attendance is strongly advised, and if you have to miss class, you are responsible for finding out from a classmate what you missed and for getting copies of any class handouts. Depending upon the class, an important amount of the material covered in class may not be discussed in the textbook. You are therefore strongly encouraged to take good notes during class, and share your notes.

You are responsible for arriving to class a few minutes early and not disturbing the class discussion by entering the class after the instructor. The instructor reserves the right to deny any student from entering the class after the lecture has started.
Policies and Procedures

You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Zirve University Undergraduate Catalog that pertain to Academic Integrity. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse (Please see the plagiarism note on the FEAS website at http://iibf.zirve.edu.tr/). Please consult with me if you are not totally certain about an issue of academic honesty before submitting an assignment. Please notify me if you have a documented disability or excuse that may affect your class performance, impedes you from attending or requires accommodation so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

To avoid disrupting class discussion, please turn off any cell phones and beepers before you come into class, arrive on time, and refrain from chatting with your neighbors and from eating anything in a noisy wrapper. Eating and drinking is ok within the acceptable limits, however please refrain from anything that would disrupt our classes.
A note on laptop and cell phone use:

Laptop and cell phone use in class is not permitted for any reason. If you want to take notes with your laptop it is not possible for this class, please take notes the traditional style: use a pen and a notebook. Please turn off your cell phones before entering class and refrain from using them during class. Violators of this policy will be asked to leave class and upon repetition of the same behavior, punitive action will be taken.
Exams and Grades:

There will be one midterm exam and a final exam (50% each). Exams may be comprehensive based on the materials covered by the instructor. There will be no extra credit assignments given to students on an individual basis. I am not planning to make a curve unless the class average falls below C (i.e. 10 points or more).

Grading Scale:

Zirve University`s grading scale will be used in this course:

Letter Grade Percentage

A 4.00 95-100

A- 3.70 90-94

B+ 3.30 85-89

B 3.00 80-84

B- 2.70 75-79

Letter Grade Percentage

C+ 2.30 70-74

C 2.00 65-69

C- 1.70 60-64

D+ 1.30 55-59

D 1.00 50-54

F 0.00 0-49

Make-up Exam Policy:

Make-up exams will be given for documented excuses only; in such cases, you must notify me in advance of the exam and make arrangements to take the make-up exam sometime else. If there is an emergency situation, it also has to be documented, like a hospitalization record, or an accident report. The hospitalization record must also be approved by the FEAS Dean’s Office of Zirve University.

Tentative Class Schedule:
Week 1 (Feb. 10)

Review of Course Policies and Requirements

Introduction: What is Modern Political Thought?
Week 2 (Feb. 17)

Baron de Montesquieu: Political Liberties, Constitution, Separation of Powers

Week 3 (Feb. 24)

Thomas Hobbes: State of Nature, Natural Law and Natural Rights, Rights of the Sovereign, Social Contract, Conditions of Commonwealth

Week 4 (Mar. 3)

John Locke: State of Nature, Freedom and Equality, Property, Consent

Week 5 (Mar. 10)

John Stuart Mill: Liberty, Utilitarianism, Representative Government

Week 6 (Mar. 17)

Jean Jacques Rousseau: Social Contract, General Will, Government, Civil Society

Week 7 (Mar. 24)

Immanuel Kant: Natural and Moral Man in History, Cosmopolitanism and Perpetual Peace, Rights, Categorical Imperative, Moral Philosophy, The Rechtsstaat

Week 8 (Mar. 31) Midterm Week, No Class

MIDTERM: Monday, March 31st
Week 9 (Apr. 7)

G.W.F. Hegel: Freedom, State, Progress, Civil Society, Philosophy of Right

Week 10 (Apr. 14)

Karl Marx: Historical Materialism, Dialectical Materialism, Labor, Private Property, Value, Class Consciousness, Working Class, Alienation

Week 11 (Apr. 21)

Karl Marx: The Communist Manifesto, Revolution, Socialism and Communism.

Week 12 (Apr. 28)

Friedrich Nietzsche: Genealogy of Morality, Nihilism,

Week 13 (May. 5)

Friedrich Nietzsche: Will to Power, The Übermensch, Eternal Return

Week 14 (May 12)

Semester Review

FINAL EXAM WEEK: May 20th – May 30th

Final exam date and time will be announced at the FEAS website.

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