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PHI 111 — An Introduction to Political Philosophy

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 18—Mar 22
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Jan 31
Units: 2
Tuition: $460
Instructor(s): Frederick M. Dolan
Status: Open
7:00—8:50 pm
Jan 18—Mar 22
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 31
2 Units
Frederick M. Dolan
This course introduces students to political philosophy by studying some of its most important and influential texts and authors, from the ancient Greek world to 19th-century America. We will examine how these political philosophers have attempted to understand the various forms of political order that have arisen over the course of Western history, including the ancient Greek city-state or polis (Plato, Aristotle), the early-modern republic (Machiavelli), the modern sovereign state (Hobbes), constitutional government (Locke), and democracy (Rousseau, Tocqueville). Our main concern will be with the fundamental normative principles at stake in political life, such as the conceptions of human nature and human flourishing that motivate preferences for competing political regimes and the concepts of justice, rights, and liberty associated with them. We will also identify the philosophical ideas and arguments behind the two most influential modern political schools of thought, liberalism and conservatism, and look at recent controversies over cosmopolitanism versus nationalism in the context of the political tradition as a whole. Finally, we will discuss the nature of political philosophy and explore some of the issues that arise in the interpretation of philosophical texts. Students will read from classic works by Plato (The Republic), Aristotle (Politics), Machiavelli (The Prince), Hobbes (Leviathan), Locke (Treatise on Civil Government), and Rousseau (A Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract).

Frederick M. Dolan, Professor of Humanities, California College of the Arts; Professor of Rhetoric, Emeritus, UC Berkeley

Frederick M. Dolan’s interests include aesthetics, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and moral and political philosophy, in particular the relationship of modern political theory to the philosophical tradition and its critics (especially Nietzsche and Heidegger). He received a PhD from Princeton.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Plato, The Last Days of Socrates (ISBN 9780140449280)
(Required) Plato, Republic (ISBN 9780141442433)
(Required) Aristotle, Politics (ISBN 9780140444216)
(Required) Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (ISBN 9780140449150 )
(Required) Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (ISBN 9780140431957)
(Required) John Locke, Second Treatise of Government (ISBN 9780915144860)
(Required) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on Inequality (ISBN 9780140444391)
(Required) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (ISBN 9780140442014)
(Required) Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (ISBN 9780140447)