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PHI 111 — An Introduction to Political Philosophy

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 25—Dec 4
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 8
Units: 2
Tuition: $485
Instructor(s): Frederick M. Dolan
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on November 27
7:00—8:50 pm
Sep 25—Dec 4
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 8
2 Units
Frederick M. Dolan
Please Note: No class on November 27
How have Western philosophers—from the ancient Greek world to 20th-century America—attempted to understand forms of political order? In this course, we will study some of political philosophy’s most important and influential texts and authors. We will begin by examining the ancient Greek city-state or polis (Plato, Aristotle), constitutional government (Locke), and democracy (Rousseau, Tocqueville). Our main concern will be with the cultural and ethical principles at stake in political life, such as how different concepts of human nature and human flourishing 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 some of the issues that arise in the interpretation of philosophical texts. Students will read from classic works by Plato (Crito, Apology), Aristotle (Politics), John Locke (Second Treatise of Government), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on Inequality, The Social Contract), Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America), and Hannah Arendt (The Human Condition).

Frederick M. Dolan, Professor of Rhetoric, Emeritus, UC Berkeley

Frederick M. Dolan’s interests include political and moral philosophy, theories of interpretation, and aesthetics and the philosophy of art. He received a PhD from Princeton.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Plato, The Last Days of Socrates (ISBN 978-0140449280)
(Required) Aristotle, Politics (ISBN 978-0140444216)
(Required) John Locke (Edited by Macpherson), Second Treatises of Government (ISBN 9780915144860)
(Required) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on Inequality (ISBN 0140444394)
(Required) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (ISBN 978-0140442014)
(Required) Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 2nd Edition (ISBN 978-0226025988)
(Recommended) Alan Ryan, On Politics (ISBN 0871404656)