POLS 456: War, Empire and Ethics

Northern Illinois University

Department of Political Science

Spring 2010



  • Dr. Andrea Radasanu


  • Zulauf 408

Phone Number

  • 753-7052

Email Address

  • aradasanu@niu.edu

Office Hours

  • Tuesdays 11am-12pm; Thursdays 10:00am-12:00pm; and by appointment


  • DU 461

Class Time

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30pm-1:45pm



Course Description:


ŇWar, Empire and EthicsÓ is a course in which we ask the question: What makes a war just? Given that the United States finds itself in a controversial war, the justice of which is hotly debated, there is no more timely a question. On what basis do you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with the current Gulf War? On what basis do we judge any war to be just? In this class, we probe the western tradition as we attempt to put this question in historical and philosophical context. We will consume philosophical tracts and discuss wars –ancient and modern – all with a view to developing our knowledge and our ability to form meaningful judgments about morality and war.




The following are REQUIRED texts. They can be purchased at either of the campus bookstores.


v Course packet

v Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan. Hackett.

v Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace and Other Essays. Hackett.

v Robert D. Kaplan, Warrior Politics, Vintage Books, 2002

v Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws, Cambridge UP, 1989

v Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars. Basic Books.


Course Requirements:


1. Attendance and Participation:


Your attendance and class participation are important components of the course and will make up 10% of your course grade. You are expected to participate in a lively manner, by answering questions about the texts, asking questions about the texts, and, generally, by offering insightful comments that will enrich your experience as well as that of your fellow students.


Attendance will be recorded every class, and class participation will be monitored. Attendance will be recorded in the first FIVE minutes of class. Please do not come in later hoping to sign your name on the attendance sheet. Four or more classes missed, for whatever reason, will result in an automatic 30% penalty of your participation grade.


Since particular passages of the text will be referred to and read in class, please bring the appropriate texts to class.


2. Reading:


All reading assignments must be completed BEFORE the beginning of the relevant class. Please keep in mind that your ability to participate effectively will depend on your diligence in completing the readings as assigned. All readings as well as all lecture material are fair game for tests and examinations. You must study your readings and take good notes in class in order to do well on the tests and examinations.


3. Tests and Assignments:


i) Quizzes. There will be three quizzes through the course of the semester. Your worst result will be dropped, and the two best will make up your quiz grade. Quizzes will not be cumulative, but will test limited material that will be specified in class.


ii) Midterm Test. Cumulative test, in class.


iii) Paper. This paper will be interpretive rather than research-based. Essay topics will be handed out in the first couple of weeks of the course. The parameters of the papers will be spelled out at that time.


iv) Final Exam. The final exam will take place in the University mandated exam time. It will deal with the themes covered throughout the course, which is to say, it is a comprehensive exam.



Grading Scheme:


Attendance and Participation: 10%

Three Quizzes: 10% each (20% total), two best results count

Midterm Test: 15%

Essay: 25%

Final Exam: 30%


Grading Scale:


93%-100% =


90%-92.9% =


87.5%-89.9% =


83%-87.4% =


80%-82.9% =


77.5%-79.9% =


60%-69.9% =


Less than 60% =





Lateness Policy:


Quizzes and midterm exam will not be rescheduled unless there are extraordinary circumstances that make it impossible for the student to complete work or come to class. Let it be clear that only EXTRAORDINARY and unexpected circumstances will be considered. For example, a heavy workload within or without the university does not count as extraordinary –and neither does a common cold. If there is a serious medical problem that has impeded the studentŐs ability to do his or her work, then please let the professor know and bring supporting documentation. NO consideration will be given to those students who do not alert the professor of a problem prior to the due date of an assignment, presentation or exam.


For the essay, if it is not handed in on time (at the beginning of the class period when it is due), late penalties will apply. Each day of lateness will cost you 5% of your essay grade. Penalties accrue each day, including weekends and holidays, until the paper is received. For example, if you hand in the paper after the class period but on the same day the paper is due, you will incur a 5% penalty. Another 5% will accrue the following day, and so on. In principle, there are NO exceptions to this policy. This is a term paper. You will have over two months to work on it. It is your responsibility to work on it in a timely fashion such that last minute colds or work load surges or personal problems donŐt get in the way of your assignment. You are encouraged to seek guidance from the professor on the essay itself early in the semester to avoid last minute difficulties.


Class Decorum:


You are expected to be courteous and collegial in this class. Here are some of the decorum guidelines:

v Be on time for class.

v Do not leave during class. Use the restroom, get a drink of water, etc. before class begins or after it ends. If you must leave early or come in late, please provide a reasonable explanation and be as undisruptive as possible when you are coming or going.

v Respect your classmates. Do not interrupt your colleagues, and make sure that your comments are civil. Discussion is wonderful and encouraged, but it is only possible when we listen to one another and make comments that are courteous.

v Do not disrupt lectures. No cell phones, no private conversations, no snoring. If you wish to interrupt to ask a question, please put your hand up. Questions are encouraged!


Unannounced Quizzes:


The professor reserves the right to give unannounced quizzes if it becomes clear that students are not doing the assigned reading, and the quality of class participation and discussion is unsatisfactory.


Extra Credit:


Extra credit assignments will not be given on an individual basis to raise final grades.


Students with Disabilities:


NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding provision of reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Moreover, your academic success is of importance to me. If you have a disability that may have a negative impact on your performance in this course and you may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodation, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate in providing accommodations you may need. If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the designated office on campus to provide services and administer exams with accommodations for students with disabilities. CAAR is located on the fourth floor of the University Health Services building (753-1303). I look forward to talking with you to learn how I may be helpful in enhancing your academic success in this course.


Plagiarism Policy:


According to the NIU Undergraduate Catalogue ŇStudents are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university.Ó In short, all ideas that are not your own or well known must be footnoted. A general rule is that if the information cannot be found in three or more commonly available sources it should be footnoted. All direct quotations must be placed in quotation marks. These guidelines will be enforced. If you are unsure as to what should be footnoted either play it safe and footnote, or ask for assistance. Failure to adhere to the UniversityŐs plagiarism policy will result in punishments ranging from a failed course grade to suspension and even expulsion, depending on the egregiousness of the infraction.


Political Science Web Site:


Students are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach this site, go to http://polsci.niu.edu


Undergraduate Writing Awards:


The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies.  Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing.  Winners are expected to attend the DepartmentŐs spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50.00. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 28.  All copies should have two cover pages – one with the studentŐs name and one without the studentŐs name.  Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award.  However, papers completed in the spring semester are eligible for the following yearŐs competition even if the student has graduated.


Religious Observance:


If classes or assignments coincide and conflict with your religious observance, please let the professor know as soon as possible so that you can be accommodated in the best possible way.


Course Outline and Due Dates:   



January 12



¤  Purpose and aims of course.

January 14


Realism: Are ethics a relevant dimension of international relations?

¤  Walzer, Preface and Chapter 1

¤  Kaplan, Chapter 1


January 19

ThucydidesFather of Realism

¤  Thucydides, PericlesŐs Funeral Oration: In defense of empire (Packet)

January 21


Thucydides, conŐd

¤  Thucydides, Melian Dialogue (Packet)


January 26

Thucydides, conŐd

¤  Kaplan, chapter 4

January 28

Machiavelli and the beginning of Modern Realism

¤  Kaplan, chapter 5


February 2

Hobbes: Realism and the bourgeois

¤  Hobbes, Leviathan, chapters 10-15

February 4

¤  Hobbes, Leviathan, chapters 17-20, 29-30


February 9

¤  Hobbes, finish

Quiz 1

February 11

Montesquieu: Liberty and Commerce

¤  Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws, Preface, Book I-IV (entire), Book V (chapters 1-7), Book 8 (chapters 1-7, 16-17).


February 16

¤  Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws, conŐd

February 18

¤  Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws, Books IX-X (entire), Book XI (entire), Book XIX (chapter 27).


February 23

¤  Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws, Book XX (chapters 1-14), Book XXI.

February 25

Midterm Test


March 2

Kant and Modern Idealism

¤  Kant, Metaphysics of Morals (packet)

March 4


¤  Kant, Perpetual Peace

¤  Kaplan, Chapter 8


March 9 & 11


March Break


March 16

¤  Finish Kant et al.


March 18

WalzerŐs Just War Theory

¤  Walzer, Chapters 2 and 3


March 23

Crime of Aggression and Responsibility

¤  Walzer, Chapters 4 and 5

Quiz 2

March 25

¤  Walzer, Chapter 16


March 30


¤  Walzer, Chapters 18 and 19

April 1

¤  Walzer, conŐd


April 6


¤  Walzer, Chapter 6

April 8

¤  ConŐd


April 13

Non-Combatant Immunity & the Nuclear Conundrum

¤  Walzer, Chapter 8 & 9

April 15

¤  Walzer, Chapter 17

Quiz 3


April 20

Asymmetrical Warfare and Terrorism

¤  Movie: ŇBattle of AlgiersÓ

April 22

¤  Movie: conŐd

¤  Walzer, Chapter 12

Essay Due


April 27

Future of War, Empire and Ethics

¤  Kaplan, Chapter 10 and 11

April 29


May 6

Thurs. May 6, Noon-1:50 p.m. Final Exam