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Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2017/2018

POSC 402: *Classical Political Philosophy

Course Description

Study of major writers in political philosophy from Plato to Machiavelli. Cross-listed as PHIL 402 and POSC 402.

Prerequisite: Junior Standing

Proctored Exams: Midterm and Final



Syllabus Contents

Textbooks

Required

  • Morgan, Michael L. (editor). Classics of Moral and Political Theory. Hackett Publishing Company, 2011.
    • ISBN-978-1-60384-442-0
  • Nelson, B. R. Western Political Thought. 2nd ed. Prentice-Hall, 1996.
    • ISBN-978-1-4786-2763-0

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.


Course Overview

In this course you will have read from the original works of many of the major authors of political philosophy. You will begin to understand the various views regarding human nature and the impact those views have had on ideas about the origins of society and on the development of political systems. Each week we will focus on several different ideas and hold class discussions based on reading materials covered in our textbook. Introducing yourself to political philosophy should be an exercise in analyzing your own political beliefs and values. When you understand that philosophers have been trying to answer important political questions for thousands of years, you will be able to gain perspective on your own political knowledge and begin to reevaluate some of your own viewpoints.


Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.


Course Objectives

  • To introduce the subject of political philosophy and its primary authors.
  • To begin formulating personal philosophical views on the political world.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the relationship between one's view of human nature and the proper political system.
  • Identify significant trends in the historical development of political thought such as equality, liberty, gender equity, justice, force and the right of revolution.
  • Explain significant contributions of the most important writers of political thought beginning at the time of Plato.
  • Read and comprehend original sources in political philosophy.

Grading

Grading Scale
Grade Points Percent
A 900-1000 90-100%
B 800-899 80-89%
C 700-799 70-79%
D 600-699 60-69%
F 0-599 0-59%
Grade Weights
Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (16) 160 16%
Short Essays (5) 240 24%
Machiavelli Paper (1) 200 20%
Midterm Exam (1) 200 20%
Final Exam (1) 200 20%
Total 1000 100%


Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1
Assignment Points Due
Introductions 0 Monday
Discussion 1 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 2 10 Friday/Sunday
Short Essay 1: Socrates 48 Sunday
Week 2
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 4 10 Friday/Sunday
Short Essay 2: Plato 48 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A
Week 3
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 6 10 Friday/Sunday
Short Essay 3: Aristotle 48 Sunday
Week 4
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 8 10 Friday/Sunday
Midterm Exam 200 Sunday
Week 5
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 10 10 Friday/Sunday
Short Essay 4: Augustine 48 Sunday
Week 6
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 12 10 Friday/Sunday
Short Essay 5: Aquinas 48 Sunday
Week 7
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 14 10 Friday/Sunday
Machiavelli Paper: Machiavelli’s Advice to Barack Obama 200 Sunday
Week 8
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 15 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 16 10 Friday/Saturday
Final Exam 200 Saturday
Total Points 1000

Assignment Overview

Discussions

There will be two weekly discussion questions, worth 10 points each. You should respond to the first discussion question each week by Wednesday at 11:59 pm Central Time (CT) and respond to the second discussion question by Friday at 11:59 pm CT. You will need to respond to at least two classmates’ posts for each discussion question by Sunday at 11:59 pm CT. Week 8 discussion responses will be due Saturday at 11:59 pm CT.

Short Essays

There will be five short essay assignments during this course. Each essay will be worth 48 points each.These essays will help you explore and learn more about major philosophers who have shaped Western thought. Each should be completed as a Word document and posted to the appropriate Dropbox folder in course by Sunday at 11:59 pm CT.

Machiavelli Paper

There will be one paper assignment of approximately 12-15 pages in length, worth 200 points. I recommend that you begin working on the paper no later than week four of the course. It will be due at the end of Week 7. The paper should be properly referenced, and it should be completed as a Word document and posted to the appropriate Dropbox folder in the course by Sunday at 11:59 pm CT of Week 7.


Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Week 1: Socrates
Introductions
Introduce yourselves to everyone else in the class. Post your introduction in the appropriate topic in the Discussion area of the course.
Readings
• Nelson: Chapter 1
• Morgan: Plato’s Republic, Book I
Discussion 1
Socrates and his contemporaries were concerned with the problem of ethics. Define ethics as understood by Socrates. How are ethics related to the concept of virtue as understood by Socrates? How did his idea differ from previous Greek philosophers? Is the idea of “virtue” relevant to modern politics? Are ethics situational and subjective or general and objective? Why or why not?

Your initial response is due by Wednesday at 11:59 pm CT.
Discussion 2
Socrates was tried and put to death for his ideas. What is the Socratic method? What was he accused of at trial? What were two major philosophical questions that put Socrates into such trouble? Why did Socrates choose to die rather than to renounce his ideas? Has his death influenced later philosophers? How?

Your initial response is due by Friday at 11:59 pm CT.
Short Essay 1: Socrates
After finishing the readings, answer the following questions (each answer should be two or three paragraphs in length):
• Why is Socrates considered one of the “founders” of philosophy itself?
• What is the “Socratic problem?”
• Why is this important to our understanding of his ideas?
• Describe two important philosophical ideas/concepts attributed to Socrates.
• What influence did Socrates have on his contemporaries like Plato, etc?

Submit your completed essay in the course Dropbox by Sunday at 11:59 pm CT.
Week 2: Plato
Readings
• Nelson: Chapter 2
• Morgan: Plato’s Republic, Book IV, Book V,“Philosophers as Kings” and Book VII,“The Allegory of the Cave”
Discussion 3
Plato’s ideas were often written in a conversational style (written as if they were part of a dialogue or conversation between philosophers -- he uses his mentor Socrates as the main antagonist in these dialogues). Based on your readings, why would Plato use this method? What was it about his ideas that made them controversial or dangerous? Was he trying to reintroduce Socratic ideas that has been politically discredited?

Your initial response is due by Wednesday at 11:59 pm CT.
Discussion 4
Plato has a hierarchical notion of justice. Describe the major facets of his view of justice. Is he concerned with equality? Why or why not? How would his idea differ from our modern ideas on what is just? How does the idea of free will relate to his notion of justice? How does Plato think that political society should be organized?

Your initial response is due by Friday at 11:59 pm CT.
Short Essay 2: Plato
After finishing the readings, answer the following questions. (Answers to questions 1 and 6 should be approximately two to three paragraphs.):
• According to ancient Greek philosophy, what does it mean to “know thyself?”
• When and where did Plato live?
• What was Plato’s relationship with Socrates?
• What event drove Plato to decide on a career in philosophy?
• What was the name of the school opened by Plato and what did he see as the school’s purpose?
• Explain the concept of happiness as understood by Plato.

Submit your completed essay in the course Dropbox by Sunday at 11:59 pm CT.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
Week 3: Aristotle
Readings
• Nelson: Chapter 3
• Morgan: The introduction to Aristotle on page 252. Aristotle’s The Nichomachean Ethics, Book II. Aristotle's The Politics, Book I,“The City and the Household,” and Book III, “The City and the Regime”
Discussion 5
The relationship between the individual and the group/community has always been of interest to philosophers. What is the role of ordinary citizens in the political process? According to the writings of Aristotle, what type of regime (government) defines this relationship properly? What does justice mean in this ideal regime?

Your initial response is due by Wednesday at 11:59 pm CT.
Discussion 6
In The Politics, Aristotle talks about the "Good Man" and the "Good Citizen." Are these concepts synonymous? Why or why not? How is his idea of citizenship related to our modern idea of citizenship?

Your initial response is due by Friday at 11:59 pm CT.
Short Essay 3: Aristotle
After finishing the readings, answer the following questions. (Each answer should be two or three paragraphs in length.):
• Define the “political” or “politics” as understood by the ancient Greeks.
• Describe Aristotle’s view of politics. Which concepts are most important to this view?
• What are his views on things like slavery, justice or the role of women in society?
• Describe his ideas on citizenship and constitutions. How does he differ from Socrates and Plato?

Submit your completed essay in the course Dropbox by Sunday at 11:59 pm CT.
Week 4: Cicero
Readings
• Nelson: Chapter 4
Discussion 7
In Cicero’s time the Roman Republic was changing into the Roman Empire. How did this event influence his thinking? What was his view of the ideal political community? What were the proper role of Citizen, Law, Justice and Rights according to Cicero? Which is most important?

Your initial response is due by Wednesday at 11:59 pm CT.
Discussion 8
Cicero was influenced by several major philosophical movements contemporary to his time. Describe the important features of Cynicism, Epicureanism and Stoicism. Which was most important as an influence on Cicero’s thinking? What political concepts did he draw from these movements? Describe at least two.

Your initial response is due by Friday at 11:59 pm CT.
Midterm Exam
The Midterm Exam will open on Tuesday of Week 4 and will close at 11:59 pm CT on Sunday of Week 4. Remember, you have a 2-hour time limit on this exam. The entire exam is worth 200 points.

The exam must be taken in a proctored environment.
Week 5: St. Augustine
Readings
• Nelson: Chapter 5
• Morgan: Augustine’s The City of God
Discussion 9
St. Augustine has a particular view of human nature. What does he mean when he describes human beings and their society as fallen? Why is this view important to his ideas on government? How does his view differ from our modern democratic ideals? How would he view the relationship between Church and State?

Your initial response is due by Wednesday at 11:59 pm CT.
Discussion 10
St. Augustine’s major work is The City of God, in which his dualistic philosophy is outlined. What is “dualism?” How is his view of human nature illustrated in this concept? What are the implications of this idea for government? Are his ideas relevant to our modern, secular, government institutions?

Your initial response is due by Friday at 11:59 pm CT.
Short Essay 4: Augustine
After finishing the readings, answer the following questions. (Each answer should be two or three paragraphs in length):
• Briefly describe his life and career. How was his conversion to Christianity important to the development of his philosophy?
• Why is Augustine described as a Christian Neo-Platonist? In what important ways does St. Augustine differ from the Platonists?
• What is his view of human agency (Will)? Does this idea differ from the classical Greek philosophy?

Submit your completed essay in the course Dropbox by Sunday at 11:59 pm CT.
Week 6: St. Thomas Aquinas
Readings
• Nelson: Chapter 6
• Morgan: Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, Parts I and II. Disputed Questions on Virtue, Articles 1, 2 and 8.
Discussion 11
During the debate over going to war in Iraq or Afghanistan, the notion of a “just war” was sometimes raised. Explain in detail what Aquinas means by a just war. Is his definition relevant today? Should our political leaders consider this view when they debate going to war? What unique issues might “just war” present for the United States?

Your initial response is due by Wednesday at 11:59 pm CT.
Discussion 12
Aquinas makes a point of dividing law into several different categories. What are the categories? Which is the highest law and what is its source? How does this view of law necessarily influence his view of the state? How is the concept of virtue related to law? Is this view of law relevant to our own modern legal system? Why or why not?

Your initial response is due by Friday at 11:59 pm CT.
Short Essay 5: Aquinas
After finishing the readings, answer the following questions (each answer should be two or three paragraphs in length):
• Briefly describe Aquinas’ early life and career.
• Who was Aquinas’ most important philosophical influence? What important philosophical concepts did he borrow from this school of thought?
• How does Aquinas interpret the idea of truth?
• What does Aquinas say about good and evil? What does he say about virtue?
• What are the five ways that Aquinas says the existence of God can be shown? How might his exposition of these "five ways" be seen as a precursor to modern scientific thought? If you are still struggling with this, ask yourself "what kind of process is Aquinas engaging in as he describes the 'five ways' and how is the process he describes different from understanding God/Divinity using only faith?"

Submit your completed essay in the course Dropbox by Sunday at 11:59 pm CT.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Week 7: Machiavelli, part 1
Readings
• Nelson: Chapter 7
• Morgan: Machiavelli’s The Prince, The introduction, Chapters 5-8, and 10
Discussion 13
In his dedicatory preface to The Prince, Machiavelli spends a lot of time praising the very ruler that had him banished from the city of Florence. How do Machiavelli’s actions here reflect the political advice he gives to the rest of us? Is he following his own precepts or is he being hypocritical as he “sucks up” to the ruler? Is this advice relevant today? Why or why not?

Your initial response is due by Wednesday at 11:59 pm CT.
Discussion 14
What is Machiavelli’s view of human nature? Are human beings corrupt? Does Machiavelli see this as a problem? How does his view compare/contrast with the views of Augustine or
Aquinas? Should a ruler behave cruelly or compassionately? Why?

Your initial response is due by Friday at 11:59 pm CT.
Machiavelli Paper: Machiavelli’s Advice to Barack Obama
In this paper, you will apply what you have learned about Machiavelli to a contemporary situation. Read the posted notes on U.S. Anti-Terrorism Policy. In a properly referenced paper, answer the following questions:
• Would Machiavelli approve of the current U.S. Policy on Terror? Why or why not?
• According to Machiavelli, what things will be most important for the President to be effective in fighting terrorism?
• What tactics would Machiavelli recommend? (Be very specific here.)
• What specific criticisms might he level at U.S. policymakers? Would he look more favorably on the Obama or Bush Administration policies? Why?

Submit your completed essay in the course Dropbox by Sunday at 11:59 pm CT.
Week 8: Machiavelli, part 2
Readings
Morgan The Prince, Chapters 13-18, 21, 22 and 25.
Discussion 15
Politicians are often criticized for adding “pork” (lots of goodies for special interests, “earmarks,” etc.) to the national budget. What might Machiavelli say about this kind of princely generosity? What will be the practical effects of giving the citizens too much of what they ask for? Can gifts be used strategically by leaders?

Your initial response is due by Wednesday at 11:59 pm CT.
Discussion 16
What are Machiavelli’s views on democracy? Does he think that common people have the potential to rule themselves? Does he believe in a strong central authority or in democracy and representative government? Why? What modern democratic institutions might he like? Which might he dislike? Why?

Your initial response is due by Friday at 11:59 pm CT.
Final Exam
The Final Exam will open on Tuesday of Week 8 and will close at 11:59 pm CT on Saturday of Week 8. Remember, you have a 2-hour time limit on this exam. The entire exam is worth 200 points.

The exam must be taken in a proctored environment.


Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism

Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.

Non-Discrimination

There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

Papers: Late submission of papers will result in the deduction of credit from those assignments. All assignments must be submitted using the course “Dropbox.” Using email or other methods of delivery for your assignments is not allowed. It is the student’s responsibility to get their work in on time.

Exams: Exams must be taken by the deadline posted above. No exams submitted late will be accepted! No make-up tests will be given unless the instructor gives prior permission! If the instructor authorizes an alternate exam period, the student and instructor will coordinate for a make-up examination to be taken as soon as possible. It is the student’s responsibility to make alternate arrangements with their approved proctor.

Emergencies should be communicated and documented to the instructor as soon as possible.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.


Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.


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