Poli 305:


Political Theory

MWF 1020-1120am

WLT 230


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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 the range of explanatory and ethical theories of politics in the Western canon of political theory

§  To be able to reflect upon the relevance of canonical theorizing to 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, you will be leading class discussion on readings periodically 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 or 5000-7500 words in length), and give a digitally enhanced oral presentation.

(3) Mid-term Examination (15%) - to demonstrate your understanding of crucial preoccupations and contemporary relevance of Kant, Wollstonecraft, and Hegel.

(4) Final Examination (30%) - to demonstrate your understanding of crucial preoccupations and contemporary relevance of Marx, and Nietzsche, as well as the research of students.


Exams focus on key concepts, arguments, images, and comparative analysis of historiographical approaches.  You must receive a passing grade in each component to pass the course.


Credit Hour Fulfillment

Willamette's Credit Hour Policy holds that for every hour of class time there will be 2-3 hours work outside of class.  Thus, you should anticipate 6-9 hours homework per week.


Disability and Religious Accommodation

Please tell me about any disabilities that will affect your participation in this course. I will respect any accommodations authorized in advance by the Office of Disability Services, Phone: (503) 370-6471, (TT) (503) 375-5383.

I will also attempt to accommodate days of special religious observance if identified within the first two weeks of class.  

Plagiarism and Cheating

In keeping with university policies, I will NOT tolerate plagiarism or other forms of cheating.



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.


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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. NY: Cambridge UP.

ISBN: 0300110707

ISBN: 0393955729

ISBN: 0521348889

ISBN: 0872202186

ISBN: 0521016886




Course Schedule


Mon 1/13

Introductions and Syllabus



Wed 1/15

What is political philosophy?


What was Ancient and Pre-Modern (Medieval, Renaissance, Early-Modern, Enlightenment) political theory? . .



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What is modernity?

What is modern political theory?

Modern values and defining, operationalizing, and reconciling them

e.g. French Revolution ‘The Rap,’ Jeremy Hoop ‘Rise Up,’


Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) .  .   .  and then .


Wittrock, Björn. 2000. ‘Modernity: One, None, or Many? European Origins and Modernity as a Global Condition.  Daedalus 129.1:31-60. . .




Recommended Reading


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.




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Immanuel Kant (1724—1804). .

Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History (1795)


Mon 1/20

Kant and the History of Cosmopolitanism..




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




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.



Wed 1/22

• Do as you presume not as you say  [Deadline to Add/Drop]

Audrey 1

Stephen 1

Adam 1

‘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.

Using David Hume and picking from Thomas Hobbes and John Locke

Fri 1/24

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

Nathan 1

John 1 or x

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

v. Niccolo Machiavelli, , and consequentialists.



Mon 1/27

  Do the Right Thing

Mitch 1

Marcela 1

Elize 1

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

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

Hope, Reason, but emotions, motivation. consistency, selectivity.


Wed 1/29

The Contemporary Debate

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

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


Homework (upload to WISE by 1/30 5pm): LEF Worksheet on Kant

Dembour (2010:11)

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Mary Wollstonecraft (1759—1797)

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)


Fri 1/31

Wollstonecraft and the History of Feminism  [Deadline to file CR/NC]


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



Recommended Reading


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.’ Psych of Women Quarterly, 30.2: 187-198.



Mon 2/3

• Diagnosing the inferiority complex.

Emily 1

Adam 2

Lizzie 1

‘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.


Wed 2/5

• Morality and Demoralization

Maria 1

Audrey 2

Lizzie 2

‘The Effect,’ pp. 115-120.

‘Modesty,’ pp. 121-30.

‘Morality undermined,’ pp. 131-139.

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

Male gaze.  .  .  . NYT on LeanIn.org

Fri 2/7

• Talking about Revolution .  .   .  .  .  .

Marcela 2

Mitch 2

Maria 2

‘Parental Affection,’ pp. 150-2.

‘Duty to Parents,’ pp. 152-7.

‘On National Education,’ pp. 157-78.

‘Some Instances,’ pp. 178-194.


Homework (upload to WISE by 2/9 5pm): LEF Worksheet on Wollstonecraft


Mon 2/10

The Contemporary Debate

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

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


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Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel (1770—1831).

Elements of the Philosophy of Right



Wed 2/12

Hegel and the History of Communitarianism




Recommended Reading


‘Editor’s Introduction,’ pp. vii-xxx.


Redding, Paul, "Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)


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



Fri 2/14

• Individuality

John 2

Emily 2

Lexi 1


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


Mon 2/17

• Civil Society

Elize 2

Stephen 2

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


Wed 2/19

• The State

Nathan 2

Lucas 1


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


Fri 2/21

The Contemporary Debate


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.


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




Complete and upload to WISE by 2/23 4pm the LEFWorksheet on Hegel



Mon 2/24




Wed 2/26

Mid-Term Exam



Fri 2/28

Term paper nuts and bolts



Mon 3/3

Paper Proposal Due & Discussion




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Karl Heinrich Marx (1518—1883)

Selected Writings


Wed 3/5

Marx and the History of Socialism




Recommended Reading


‘Introduction,’ pp. ix-xxxv


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


Fri 3/7

• Rebel Yell

Lizzie 3

Audrey 3

Mitch 3

Part I: Early Philosophical Writings

‘On the Jewish Question,’ pp.1-10, 16-21

‘Toward a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction,’ pp.32-39

Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, pp54-78, skim 79-97

‘Theses on Feuerbach,’ pp.98-101


Mon 3/10

• Think historically, Act Immediately

Lucas 2

Marcela 3

Harrison 1

Part II: Writings on Historical Materialism

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

The Communist Manifesto, pp.157-186



Wed 3/12

• Money makes the world go around

Stephen 3

Lexi 2

Harrison 2

Part III: Economic Writings,

Capital, Vol 1, pp.214-300



Fri 3/14

The Contemporary Debate . . .


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




Harvey, David. 2010. ‘Capital Evolves,’ in The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism. And vid (11min)



Mon 3/17

Complete and upload to WISE by 3/16 4pm the LEFWorksheet on MARX


Peer Review of First Drafts (bring one hard copy to class)



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Wed 3/19

1st Draft of Paper Due (upload to WISE by 9am) & Brief Presentation

Fri 3/21

No Class; meet with me on your papers [Deadline to Withdraw]


Spring Break!


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Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844—1900).  .  .  .

Selected Writings


Mon 3/31

Nietzsche and the History of Postmodernism


Recommended Reading


‘Introduction,’ pp.vii-xxxiv.




Strong, T. B. (2013). In Defense of Rhetoric: Or How Hard It Is to Take a Writer Seriously The Case of Nietzsche. Political Theory, 41(4), 507-532.



Wed 4/2

• What would Jesus do? .  .

Elize 3

Lucas 3 Maria 3

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


Fri 4/4

• Be all that you can be .  .    

Emily 3

Nathan 3

Adam 3

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


Mon 4/7

• Home Improvement . .

John 3

Lexi 3

Harrison 3

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


Wed 4/9

The Contemporary Debate .  .  .

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




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




Homework (upload to WISE by 4/9 8am): LEF Worksheet on Nietzsche



Fri 4/11

No Class – meet with Professor



Mon 4/14

2nd Draft of Paper Due & Discussion


Set Presentation schedule



Wed 4/16

No Classes: SSRD!



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Fri 4/18

NO CLASS – schedule individual meetings with Prof



Mon 4/21

Student presentations

1 Audrey M

A Truth Universally Acknowledged: Analyzing the Opening Line of Pride and Prejudice.


2 Adam L

The iPhone and the ‘I’


3 John S

Neoliberalism v Neorealism




Wed 4/23

Student presentations

1 Lucas I

Myth & Reality of the ‘American Dream’


2 Lexi H

The Light or Dark Continent? The Modernization of Africa according to China, Europe, the US, and Africa.



Fri 4/25

Student presentations

1 Mitch D

Revitalizing Rawls: Juxtaposing A Theory of Justice by John Rawls with Contemporary Isms


2 Emily D

Beating the ‘All Boys Club’: Is America ready for a female president?


3 Maria H

How should a woman look? A critique of the male gaze in contemporary film



Mon 4/28

Student presentations

1 Stephen W

When words collide


2 Lizzie K

Protesting Females: American values of freedom of speech and expression in light of the United States media responses to contemporary feminist groups


3 Harrison B

Hilarity or Clarity? The Rise of Satirical Newscasts and the implications for Democracy


4 Elize M

Rewriting Red Riding: Identity Politics disguised in creation & conservation




Marcela H

Food Politics and Obesity






Final Draft of Paper Due in WISE by 10am 2 days after Presentation




Tue 5/6

Final Exam 8-11 am





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