Poli 305:

Modern Political Theory

MWF 1020-1120am

ETN 424





Sammy Basu

TTH 930-1130am

Smu 317



Course Summary

This course examines selected modern political theorists. Emphasis is placed upon evaluating the assumptions, cogency, and contemporary relevance of their philosophical systems. Topics to be addressed include human nature, ethical judgment, and the purposes of politics.


Course Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

To better understand the subfield of political philosophy/political theory

To become more familiar with a wider range of historically rooted explanatory and ethical theories of politics

To be able to utilize more sophisticated conceptualizations upon contemporary political problems

To be able to learn (teach and be taught in turn) collaboratively



"Let the tutor make his charge pass everything through a sieve and lodge nothing in his head on mere authority and trust: let not Aristotle's principles be principles to him any more than those of the Stoics or Epicureans. Let this variety of ideas be set before him: he will choose if he can; if not he will remain in doubt."

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Essays, 'Of the education of children.'


Course Evaluation Criteria

All four components must be passed in order to complete the course:

(1) Regular participation in class discussions (25%) - to engage with the readings, and one another. You should complete assigned reading before the class. In addition to general participation, you will be assigned responsibility for leading class discussion on readings on a rotating basis throughout the semester.

If you miss class, regardless of the reason, you are required to provide a 250-word summary on the readings of the day(s) missed.  To be handed in at next class.

(2) Essay paper (30%) - to write a research paper involving a modern political theorist, concept, or issue of your own choosing. 20-25 double-spaced pages (5000-7500 words) in length.
Oral presentation that makes use of New media and Information Technology.

(3) Mid-term Examination (15%) - to demonstrate your understanding of crucial themes and differences between various modern political theorists.

(4) Final Examination (30%) - to demonstrate your understanding of crucial themes and differences between various modern political theorists.



If you believe that you may have a disability requiring accommodation please contact

Disability Services, Baxter Hall, Phone: (503) 370-6471, (TT) (503) 375-5383.

Retroactive accommodation will not be possible.




Required Course Readings


It is optimal that you read and bring to class the particular editions of the books listed below.  All additional readings will be made available electronically.












Kant, Immanuel. 2006. Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History. New Haven: Yale UP.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. 2009. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. NY: W. W. Norton & Company

Hegel, G.W.H. 1991. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. NY: Cambridge UP.

Marx, Karl. 1994. Selected Writings. Indianapolis: Hackett.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 2005. The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols: And Other Writings. NY: Cambridge UP.


ISBN: 0300110707

ISBN: 0393955729

ISBN: 0521348889

ISBN: 0872202186

ISBN: 0521016886




Course Schedule


1 Sep W



Course webpage




3 Sep F


What is political theory?

What is theory?

What is political philosophy?

What is philosophy?

What is the political?


What was ancient and pre-modern political theory?

What is modern political theory?

What is modernity?

Modern values

and defining, operationalizing, and reconciling them


e.g. French Revolution Rap


e.g. Jeremy Hoop ‘Rise Up,’



6 Sep M

Labor Day – No class, grumble, grumble …

even though you haven’t even done any laboring yet.



8 Sep W

What do contemporary political theorists say political theory is about?




Tully, James. 2002. ‘Political Philosophy as a critical activity.’ Political Theory, 30:533-55.


Freeden, Michael. 2005. ‘What should the ‘Political’ in Political Theory explore?Journal of Political Philosophy, 13.2:113-134.


Smith, Graham M. 2009. ‘Through a Glass, Darkly: The Vision and Visions of Political Theory.British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 11.2:360-375.



harlie Chaplin animated gif


10 Sep F


Modern Times (1936), Part 1 and 3 esp (on reserve in Hatfield)

Lavin, Timothy. 2009. ‘Then and Now.The Atlantic, Jan/Feb, pp66-67.

Overview and Term Paper







Immanuel Kant 1724--1804

Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History



13 Sep M

Kant and the History of Cosmopolitanism




Recommended Reading


‘Editor’s Introduction,’ ppxv-xxiv.

Waldron, Jeremy. ‘Kant’s Theory of the State,’ pp.179-200


Doyle, Michael W. ‘Kant and Liberal internationalism,’ pp.201-242


Wood, Allen W. ‘Kant’s Philosophy of History,’ pp.243-262.


Beck, Ulrich, 2004. Cosmopolitical Realism: On the Distinction between Cosmopolitanism in Philosophy and the Social Sciences.” Global Networks, 4.2: 131-156.


Dembour, Marie-Bénédicte. 2010.What Are Human Rights? Four Schools of Thought.’ Human Rights Quarterly, 32.1: 1-20. Table



15 Sep W

• Do as you presume not as you say

Maxwell M

Lauren P

Jack N

H and PP

‘Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Perspective,’ pp.3-16.

‘An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?,’ pp.17-23.

‘On the Common Saying: This May Be True in Theory, but It Does Not Hold in Practice,’ Parts and 3, pp. 44-66.


17 Sep F

• Peace-making, or Can’t we all just get along

Gunnar P

John S.

Josh W 

H and P

‘Toward Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,’ pp.67-109.




20 Sep M

  Do the Right Thing

Kyle M

Katie H

Dan W


‘Metaphysics of Morals, Doctrine of Right,’ S.43-62, pp.110-149.

‘Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View,’ Part 2, Section E, pp.164-176.




22 Sep W

The Contemporary Debate

Brian B

Thomas W

Heidi H

Harvey, David. 2000. ‘Cosmopolitanism and the Banality of Geographical Evils.’ Public Culture, 12.2: 529-564.



Tyler W

Salomé C

Joe H

Godrej, Farah. 2009.Towards a Cosmopolitan Political Thought: The Hermeneutics of Interpreting the Other.Polity, 41.2: 135–165.






Mary Wollstonecraft 1759--1797

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.


24 Sep F


Wollstonecraft and the History of Feminism  


Recommended Reading


Carolyn W. Korsmeyer. 1988. ‘Reason and Morals in the early Feminist Movement: Mary Wollstonecraft,’ in Vindication, 285-97.


Elissa S. Guralnick. 1988. ‘Radical Politics in Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,’ in Vindication, 308-17.



Hoffman, John. 2001. “Defining Feminism.’ Politics, 21.3: 193-200.



Cooper, Christine M. 2007. ‘Worrying about Vaginas: Feminism and Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues".Signs, 32.3: 727-58.



Quinn, Julie E. A. and H. Lorraine Radtke. 2006. ‘Dilemmatic Negotiations: The (Un)Tenability of Feminist Identity.’ Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30.2: 187-198.



27 Sep M

• Diagnosing the inferiority complex

Isabella G

Gunnar P

Joe H


‘Introduction,’ pp. 3-11.

‘The Rights and Involved Duties,’ pp. 11-19.

‘Observations,’ pp. 50-77.

Skim: ‘The Prevailing Opinion,’ pp. 19-49.

Skim: ‘Animadversions,’ pp. 77-115.


29 Sep W

• Morality and Demoralization

Jay M

Josh W

Maxwell M


‘The Effect,’ pp. 115-120.

‘Modesty,’ pp. 121-30.

‘Morality undermined,’ pp. 131-139.

Of the Pernicious Effects,’ pp. 140-49.


1 Oct F

• Talking about Revolution

Kyle M

Heidi H

Gunnar P


‘Parental Affection,’ pp. 150-2.

‘Duty to Parents,’ pp. 152-7.

‘On National Education,’ pp. 157-78.

‘Some Instances,’ pp. 178-194.


4 Oct M

The Contemporary Debate

Lauren P

Jay M

Scott P

Gubar, Susan. 1994. ‘Feminist Misogyny: Mary Wollstonecraft and the Paradox of "It Takes One to Know One".Feminist Studies, 20.3: 452-473.



Thomas W

Isabella G

Tyler W

Holvino, Evangelina. 2010. ‘Intersections: The Simultaneity of Race, Gender and Class in Organization Studies,’ Gender, Work and Organization, 17.3: 248-277.





Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel 1770--1831

Elements of the Philosophy of Right



6 Oct W


Hegel and the History of Communitarianism


Recommended Reading




‘Editor’s Introduction,’ pp. vii-xxx.


Richard Mullender. 2003. ‘Hegel, Human Rights, and Particularism.Journal of Law and Society 30.4: 554–574.



8 Oct F

• Individuality

Jay M

Salomé C

Josh W



‘Abstract Right,’ pp. 9-23, 67-80, 102-6, 135-42, 185-6.


11 Oct M

• Civil Society

Kyle M

Tyler W

Katie H


‘Ethical Life,’ pp. 189-200, 206-7, 219-226, 250-73.


13 Oct W

• The State

Dan W

Thomas W

Heidi H


‘The State,’ pp. 275-313, 328-9, 355, 359-71.



15 Oct F

The Contemporary Debate



Jack N

Lauren P

John S

Schmidt am Busch, Hans-Christoph. 2008. ‘Personal Respect, Private Property, And Market Economy: What Critical Theory Can Learn From Hegel.Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 11: 573-586.



Brian B

Joe H

Salomé C

Katz, Claire. 2008. ‘"The Eternal Irony of the Community": Prophecy, Patriotism, and the Dixie Chicks.’ Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Vol. 26 Issue 4, p139-160 - yt and yt and yt




18 Oct M



20 Oct W


Mid-Term Exam

22 Oct F

No Class: Mid-semester Day






Karl Heinrich Marx 1518--1883

Selected Writings


25 Oct M


Marx and the History of Socialism


Recommended Reading


‘Introduction,’ pp. ix-xxxv


Hayek, Friedrich, 1976. 'Socialism and Science.' IPA Review, 87-96.

See also youtube.


Tsolakis, Andreas. 2010. ‘Opening Up Open Marxist Theories of the State: A Historical Materialist Critique.’ The British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 12.3: 387–407.


27 Oct W

• Rebel Yell

Brian B

Salomé C

Isabella G


Part I: Early Philosophical Writings

‘On the Jewish Question,’ pp.1-6

‘Toward a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction,’ pp.27-39

Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (selections), pp54-97.

‘Theses on Feuerbach,’ pp.98-101


29 Oct F

• Think historically, Act Immediately

John S

Dan W

Heidi H

Jay M


Part II: Writings on Historical Materialism

The German Ideology, Part I (selections), pp.102-156

The Communist Manifesto, pp.157-186

The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (selections), pp.187:208









1 Nov M

• Money makes the world go around

Lauren P

Tyler W

Joe H


Part III: Economic Writings, pp.214-300







The Contemporary Debate

3 Nov W


Gunnar P

John S

Isabella G


Booth, William James. 1989. ‘Gone Fishing: Making Sense of Marx's Concept of Communism.’ Political Theory. Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 205-222.

Scott P

Maxwell M


Tralau, Johan. 2005. ‘The Effaced Self in the Utopia of the Young Karl Marx.’ European Journal of Political Theory, 4:393-412.

5 Nov F


Jack N

Josh W

Scott P

Burnham, Peter. 2010. ‘Class, Capital and Crisis: A Return to Fundamentals.’ Political Studies Review, 8.1: 27-39.


Kyle M

Brian B

Krygier, Martin. 1990. ‘Marxism and the Rule of Law: Reflections after the Collapse of Communism.’  Law & Social Inquiry, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 633-663




OECD on Growing Unequal (2008)

Nativism and Tea-Party

Immigration and the Prison Industry

Myth of the American Dream

US Federal Tax Dollars


ey Players That Helped Draft Arizona's Immigration Law






Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche 1844--1900

Selected Writings


8 Nov M


Nietzsche and the History of Postmodernism


Recommended Reading


‘Introduction,’ pp.vii-xxxiv.




Pippin, Robert B. 2006. ‘Nietzsche’s alleged farewell: The premodern, modern, and postmodern Nietzsche,’ in pp.252-278.


Rolfe, Gary. 2001. ‘Postmodernism for healthcare workers in 13 easy steps.’ Nurse Education Today, 21.1: 38-47.



10 Nov W

• What would Jesus do?

Maxwell M

Katie H

Salomé C


The Anti-Christ: A Curse on Christianity, pp.1-67


12 Nov F

• Be all that you can be …

Tyler W

Brian B

Jay M

Jack N


Ecce Homo: How to Become What You Are, pp.69-151


15 Nov M

• Home Improvement

Maxwell M

Kyle M

Katie H

Twilight of the Idols: or How to Philosophize with a Hammer, pp.153-229




The Contemporary Debate

17 Nov W


Gunnar P

Dan W

Heidi H

Hatab, Lawrence J., 2002.Prospects for a Democratic Agon : Why We Can Still Be Nietzscheans.’The Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 24: 132-147.



Thomas W

Scott P

Katie H


Gemes, Ken. 2001. ‘Postmodernism’s Use and Abuse of Nietzsche,’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 62.2: 337-360.

19 Nov F


Thomas W

Josh W

Isabella G

Kirkland, Paul E. 2010. ‘Nietzsche's Tragic Realism.’ Review of Politics, 72: 55-78.



Jack N

John S

Joe H

Wenger, Morton G. 1994. ‘Idealism Redux: The Class-Historical Truth of Postmodernism.’ Critical Sociology 20: 53-78.




22 Nov M


Which philosopher, whose ‘ism?

24 Nov W


Presentation Technologies – or, turning your paper into a cyborg



a.      Ahead

b.     Google docs

c.      Prezi

d.     280 slides

e.      Voicethread

f.       Wix



26 Nov F


No Class: Thanksgiving

29 Nov M


Student presentations TBA


Salomé C – Cosmopolitanism or Communitarianism v the Other




Maxwell M -  An American Antihero: Democracy’s desire for Dexter’s decadence




Tyler W – Warring Worldviews: polarization in American politics



1 Dec W


Student presentations TBA


Heidi H – Matrons of Death




Jack N – Useless Tea-bagging: The Misdirected anger of the Tea party movement




Josh W – Hegel and Google: The end of history?




Joe H – Apple – The Workings of International Political Economy



3 Dec F


Student presentations TBA


Kyle M – What is the real Alaska?




Isabella G – The Fourth Coming?: Gauging “Post”feminism




Johnathan S – Marx and Stirner: Why are you poor and what can they do about it?





6 Dec M

Student presentations



Katie H   Can Homeschooling fit in a Democracy?



8 Dec W


Student presentations


Gunnar P – Salman Rushdie’s Shame: Cosmopolitanism necessitates Feminism




Jay M – Reproductive Liberty and Overpopulation – the logical demise of capitalism




Lauren P - Are We There Yet?: the myth of post-feminism in the 2008 Presidential election



10 Dec F


Student presentations


Scott P – Someone has Mommy Issues




Brian B – no go




Dan W – no go




Tom W – Heidegger and Feminism



13 Dec M


Final Draft of Paper – in WISE by 10am

16 Dec Th

Final Exam 8-11 am Smullin B17