POLITICAL SCIENCE 251: INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Spring, 2008

Larry Arnhart

Office: Zulauf 404

Office hours:  Tuesday & Thursday, 12:30-2:30, other times by appointment

Email: larnhart@niu.edu

 

TEXTS

The New Jerusalem Bible

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (Waveland Press)

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (Cambridge University Press)

John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration (Hackett Publishing)

The Declaration of Independence & The U. S. Constitution (available online)

Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings (Da Capo Press)

 

GRADING

 

The final grade for this course will be based on the grades for journal writing (40% for journal entries #1-6 and journal responses #1-6, 40% for journal entries #7-14 and journal responses #7-14), and the grades for class participation (10% for the first half of the course, 10% for the second half).  Grades for the first half of the course will be given out on March 4.

 

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 March 4 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.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

ASSIGNMENTS

 

Jan 15:  Introduction

 

Jan 17:  The Declaration of Independence, found at http://www.archives.gov/national-

                archives-experience/charters/declaration_transcript.html

 

Jan 22:  Genesis 1-4, 11:1-9, 12:1-20, 22:1-19; Exodus 1-7:7, 14-15, 17-23, 32-33

              Journal #1

 

Jan 24:  Response #1

 

Jan 29:  Leviticus 25:44-46; Numbers 31; Deuteronomy 1, 5, 17:14-20, 20-25, 30; Judges

                2:6-3, 10:6-12:7, 19-21; I Samuel 7-12, 16-18; II Samuel 5-12; I Kings 10:14-

                11:4; II Kings 25

              Journal #2

 

Jan 31:  Response #2

 

Feb  5:  Matthew 5-7; Mark 12:13-17; Romans 1-2, 13; I Corinthians 5-6; Revelation 13,

                 19-22

              Journal #3

 

Feb  7:  No class

 

Feb 12:  Machiavelli, The Prince, chaps. 1-17

              Response #3

              Journal #4

 

Feb 14:  Response #4

 

Feb 19:  Machiavelli, The Prince, chaps. 18-26

              Journal #5

 

Feb 21:  Response #5

             

Feb 26:  Locke, Second Treatise, chaps. 1-6 (pp. 267-318)

              Journal #6

 

Feb 28:  Response #6

 

Mar  4:  Locke, Second Treatise, chaps. 7-13 (pp. 318-374)

              Journal #7

 

Mar  6:  Response #7

 

Spring Break

             

Mar 18:  Locke, Second Treatise, chaps. 14-19 (pp. 374-428)

              Journal #8

 

Mar 20:  Response #8

 

Mar 25:  Locke, Letter on Toleration

              Journal #9

 

Mar 27:  Response #9

 

Apr   1:  The U. S. Constitution, found at

                 http://www.nationalcenter.org/Constitution.html

              Journal #10

 

Apr   3:  Response #10

 

Apr   8:  Lincoln, pp. 58-59, 76-85, 186-188, 278-279, 283-323, 332-336

               Journal #11

 

Apr 10:  Response #11

 

Apr 15:  Lincoln, pp. 352-365, 423, 427, 469-474, 477-481, 488-489, 517-536, 610-611

               Journal #12

 

Apr 17:  Response #12

 

Apr 22:  Lincoln, pp. 567-568, 577-591, 594-609, 613-615, 699-708

               Response #11

               Journal #13

 

Apr 24:  Response #13

 

Apr 29:  Lincoln, pp. 651-52, 689-692, 709-710, 734, 745, 748-750, 756-758, 766, 772,

                  792-794

               Journal #14

 

May  1:  Response #14