CoursesKey Questions in Political Theory
PSCI 4991 - 004

Key Questions in Political Theory

This course is a basic introduction to certain fundamental topics in political theory. It aims to provide students with concepts and ideas by which to more clearly make sense of political reality.

Mondays, 1:45 PM – 4:44 PM
(Approved Wharton requirement sector: Social Sciences and Cross-Cultural Perspective)

In general, the course proceeds by elucidating major distinctions, such as: ancient vs. modern; deontology vs. consequentialism; “Athens” vs. “Jerusalem” (or: reason vs. revelation); thinking vs. knowing; liberalism vs. democracy; sovereign power vs. disciplinary power; being secular vs. being a secularist; politics as subset of morality vs. political responsibility as requiring the transgression of morality; the grounds of legitimate authority (tradition vs. legal-rational vs. charisma); etc. Overall, the course has three goals: (i) to introduce students to alternate approaches to the practice of political theory; (ii) to introduce students to numerous relatively self-contained debates important to contemporary political theorists; and (iii) to address major figures from the history of political thought, with an eye toward explaining what makes them vital to political theorists today.

Grades will be earned on the basis of three 7-page (double-spaced) papers on each third of the class (30% each) and class participation (10%). The course TA/grader, Miranda Sklaroff, will be the primary evaluator of students’ written work.

Key Questions in Political Theory 2023 Provisional Syllabus

Section Attributes
  • NU Sector Society&Soc Struct (NUSS)
  • PPE Public Policy & Governance (APPU)
  • SEAS Social Science (EUSS)
  • Wharton Core Cross-Cultural Perspective: Non-US (WUCN)
  • Wharton UG Core Flex GenEd (WUFG)
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