POLITICAL SCIENCE 320/BIOS 320X: BIOPOLITICS AND HUMAN NATURE

Fall, 2008

Larry Arnhart

Office: Zulauf 404

Office hours:  Tuesday & Thursday, 2:00-4:00, other times by appointment

Email: larnhart@niu.edu

 

TEXTS

Larry Arnhart, Darwinian Conservatism (Imprint Academic, 2005)

Larry Arnhart, Darwinian Natural Right: The Biological Ethics of Human Nature (SUNY

     Press, 1998)

John West, Darwin's Conservatives: The Misguided Quest (Discovery Institute Press,

     2006)

James Watson, DNA: The Secret of Life (Knopf, 2003)

Frans de Waal, Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes (John Hopkins

     University Press, 1998)

Allan Mazur, Biosociology of Dominance and Deference (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005)

Louann Brizendine, The Female Brain (Morgan Road Books, 2006)

 

 

GRADING

The final grade for this course will be based on the grades for journal writing (30% for journal entries #1-6 and journal responses #1-6, 30% for journal entries #7-13 and journal responses #7-13), for class participation (15% for the first half of the course, 15% for the second half), and for a final argumentative essay (10%).  Grades for the first half of the course will be given out on October 21.

 

Journal Writing

A journal entry will be due every Tuesday at the beginning of class.  Each journal entry should be at least 600 words long (or roughly 2 double-spaced typed pages).  Each entry must have your name, the date, and the number of the entry on the top of the first page.  They must be typed.  They must be stapled.   All journal writing must be submitted in class.  Submissions outside of class will not be accepted.  No submissions by e-mail will be accepted.  No late submissions will be accepted.  No submissions at the end of class will be accepted.

 

You will be assigned to a journal group with two other students.  You must bring three copies of your entry or response to class--one copy for the instructor and two copies for the members of your group.  Of course, you should keep the original for yourself.

 

The journal entry should be a statement of your thoughts about the reading assignment for that week.  The purpose is to show your intellectual struggle with the material.  Do you understand what the author is saying?  If so, do you agree or disagree?  Why?  If you do not understand what the author is saying, what is it that you find confusing? 

 

Intellectual struggle requires a logical analysis of the arguments.  What is the issue?  What position is the author taking on that issue?  What arguments does the author develop to support that position? What are the strengths and weaknesses in those arguments? Are the arguments ultimately persuasive or not? Those are the kind of questions you must consider in analyzing the arguments.  You should not fill up your journal entry by merely summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting from the reading.  Hey, you’ve got a brain.  Use it!

 

You are free to introduce whatever you find pertinent--including ideas from your personal experience and ideas from other classes you have taken--whatever helps you to make sense of the issues raised in the readings.  Integrating ideas from our class discussions into your writing is important.  Again, the purpose is to write an informal statement of your thoughts about the reading assignments that show your intellectual struggle with the material and with the questions raised by that material.

 

The reading for each week will suggest many issues that might deserve comment.  But generally it is best for your journal entry to concentrate on just one issue that you can develop in two pages.

 

You will receive two grades for your journal writing.  On October 21 you will receive your grades for the first half of the semester.  Your grades for the second half of the semester will come at the end of the semester.

 

To deal with emergencies (illness and so on), you will be permitted to miss one journal entry and one set of journal responses without any penalty.  But missing more than that will lower your grade.

 

Journal responses will be due every Thursday at the beginning of class.   Each response should have your name, the number of the response, the date, and the name of the person to whom you are responding.  Each should be typed.  Every Thursday, you will turn in two responses, and each response must be at least 300 words long (or roughly 1 double-spaced typed page).  Like the journal entries, you must bring three copies--one for the instructor and two for the members of your journal group.  If a member of your journal group does not give you an entry, you should turn in a note indicating that you cannot write a response because you have not received an entry.

 

The journal responses will be your written responses to the journal entries of the two other people in your group.  So each Thursday you will come to class with two responses of at least one page each for the two members of your journal group.  The purpose of the journal response is to intellectually engage your fellow students.  How does their handling of the reading assignment compare with yours?  What did they see that you did not see?  Sometimes you will disagree.  But don't be too negative.  Even if you disagree with a journal entry, try to find some way to help that fellow student think through the issues.  You want to sustain a lively intellectual exchange with your fellow students in which everyone learns something from the exchange.  You want to struggle together in thinking through the issues.

 

If you do not receive a journal entry from a member of your journal group, you must turn in a note indicating that you cannot write a response because you did not receive an entry from that person.

 

The grading for the journal writing will be determined by how well you obey Arnhart's Ten Commandments:

 

1.  Thou shalt turn in all your journal writing (of the required length) at the beginning of each class.

 

2.  Thou shalt show some logical analysis of the texts that goes beyond merely summarizing or quoting from the texts.

 

3.  Thou shalt avoid errors in spelling, diction, punctuation, and grammar.

 

4.  Thou shalt write journal responses that seriously engage the journal entries from the other group members.

 

5. Thou shalt write on one or two major topics in each journal entry rather than writing superficially about many topics.

 

6.  Thou shalt organize your writing into coherent paragraphs.

 

7. Thou shalt occasionally show how the readings for one week relate to the readings for previous weeks.

 

8. Thou shalt develop your own line of reasoning about politics over the course of the semester in response to the readings and the class discussions.

 

9. Thou shalt take clear positions on the controversies in this class and support those positions with evidence and argumentation.

 

10.  Thou shalt regularly probe the deeper implications of the issues raised in the reading and class discussions beyond what is clear on the surface.

 

To earn a "C," students must obey commandments 1-4.  To earn a "B," students must obey commandments 1-8.  To earn an "A," students must obey all 10 commandments.  Those students failing to obey commandments 1-4 will receive a "D" or "F."  Anyone who commits plagiarism—using someone else's words without putting them within quotation marks—will automatically receive a final grade of "F" for the entire course.

 

 

Class Participation

You are expected to attend class and contribute to class discussions.  High grades for class participation will go to those who regularly attend class and who regularly contribute to class discussions in an instructive way.  You may miss two classes without penalty.  Missing more will be penalized.  You are expected to be in class on time.  Those who arrive late to class more than two times will be severely penalized.  Anyone whose cell phone rings in class will be whacked!

 

A grade of "C" for class participation requires regular class attendance (missing no more than two classes).  A grade of "B" for class participation requires regular class attendance and contributing to class discussions at least once a week.  A grade of "A" for class participation requires regular class attendance and contributing to class discussions at almost every class meeting.

 

 

Final Argumentative Essay

The final argumentative essay should be 15,000-2,000 words long (roughly 6-8 double-spaced pages).  The topics in this course are controversial.  For this essay, you should take up one of these controversial topics and defend your position on that controversy.  To do that, there are four requirements.  (1) State the question at issue.  (2) State your answer to the question.  (3) Support your answer with at least three arguments—three good reasons for believing that your answer is correct.  (4) Respond to at least two of the major objections to your answer.  Anyone who commits plagiarism—using someone else's words without putting them within quotation marks—will automatically receive a final grade of "F" for the entire course.  This final essay is due no later than 12 noon on May 8 at the professor's office (Zulauf 404).

 

 

 

ASSIGNMENTS

 

Aug  26:  Introduction

 

Aug  28:  No class

 

Sep    2:   Arnhart, Darwinian Conservatism, pages 1-143

 

Sep    4:   continued

 

Sep    9:   West, pages 9-103

                Entry #1

 

Sep  11:   Response #1

 

Sep  16:  Watson, chapters 1-3

                Entry #2

 

Sep   18:  Response #2

 

 

Sep   23:  Watson, chapters 7-10

                 Entry #3

 

Sep  25:  Response #3

 

Sep  30:  Watson, chapters 11-13 and Coda

                Entry #4

 

Oct    2:   Response #4

             

Oct    7:   de Waal, pages 1-75

                Entry #5

 

Oct    9:   No class

 

Oct   14:  de Waal, pages 77-215

                Response #5

                Entry #6

 

Oct   16:  Response #6

             

Oct   21:  Mazur, pages 1-92

                Entry #7

 

Oct   23:   Response #7

 

Oct   28:   Mazur, pages 93-167

                 Entry #8

 

Oct   30:   Response #8

 

Nov    4:   Brizendine, pages 1-116

                 Entry #9

 

Nov    6:   Response #9

 

Nov   11:  Brizendine, pages 117-187

                 Anne Fausto-Sterling, "The Five Sexes," at   http://bms.brown.edu/faculty/f/afs/fivesexesprnt.pdf

                  Entry #10

 

Nov   13:   Response #10

 

 

 

 

Nov   18:   Arnhart, Darwinian Natural Right, pages 6-121

                  Entry #11

 

Nov    20:  Response #11

 

Nov   25:   Arnhart, Darwinian Natural Right, pages 123-160

                  Entry #12

 

Nov   27:   No class (Thanksgiving)

 

Dec      2:   Arnhart, Darwinian Natural Right, pages 161-275

                  Response #12

                  Entry #13

 

Dec      4:   Response #13

 

Dec      8:   final essay due at the professor's office (Zulauf 404), no later than 12 noon.