Course 2017-2018 a.y.



Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 23
BIG (6 credits - II sem. - OB  |  SPS/01)
Course Director:

Classes: 23 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

  • Explain, evaluate, question, and apply: explain, evaluate, and ask thoughtful questions about the key concepts of political theory and apply these concepts to empirical issues.
  • Think globally: examine politics and society from a global perspective and reflect on the ways in which concepts in political theory relate (differently?) to people’s lives around the world.
  • Read closely: actively and thoughtfully read and respond to diverse scholarly perspectives inpolitical theory.
  • Discuss and listen: write and speak about contentious issues in politics and political theory in a thoughtful and coherent way while carefully listening to other people's experiences and perspectives.

Intended Learning Outcomes
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Course Content Summary

The material for this course is organized around the notion of the boundaries of the state and political communities in general. We interrogate each author we read on what kind of boundaries are implicit in their theories, and ask ourselves whether those boundaries are justified and if so, on what basis.
Of course, as we follow this running theme, we also address the usual questions that have kept political thinkers busy for the past two and a half millennia.
  • How free should human beings be? How equal? What kind of freedom and equality are worth having?
  • How powerful should states be? When and how might we want to resist them?
  • Who should rule? What kinds of constraints should limit the actions of rulers? Of ordinary people?
  • What is democracy? What is good, and what might not be good, about democracy?
  • What is justice?

Teaching methods
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Assessment methods
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Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

For attending students (80%+ attendance)
  • Partial exam (40%).
  • Final exam (40%) (or final exam only 80%)
  • Students' participation in class (10%).
  • Class Presentation (10%)

For non attending students
  • Final exam.


  • J.S. MILL, On Liberty, chapter 3.
  • I. BERLIN, Two Concept of Liberty.
  • J.J. ROUSSEAU, The Basic Political Writings, Hackett.
  • A. SEN, Inequality Reexamined, selection.
  • ARISTOTELE, Politics Book I and III.
  • N. MACHIAVELLI, The Prince (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought) and Discourses Book I, chapters 1-10, 16-18, 42-43, 46; Book III, chapters 1, 3, 41.
  • T. HOBBES, Leviatan Part 1, chapters 13-16; Part 2, chapters 17-18,21.
  • J. LOCKE, The Second Treatise of Government, chapters V, VII-XIX.
  • C. MONTESQUIEU, The Spirit of Law, book 11; Federalist 10.
  • J. ELSTER, Ulysses and the Sirens II 8, pp. 87-103.
  • J. WALDRON, Law and Disagreement, chapter 12, Disagreement and Precommitment.
  • HERODOTUS, The Histories, Book III, sections 80-82.
  • THUCYDIDES, The Peloponnesian War, Book II, ch. 6, sections 35-46 Funeral Oration of Pericles.
  • J.A. SCHUMPETER, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Part IV, chapters 20-23.
  • I. KANT, Perpetual Peace, in Kant, Political Writings, Cambridge University Press, pages 93-130.
  • D.A. RICHARDS, Rights and Autonomy, Ethics 92, October 1981;
  • M.L. KING JR., Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
  • MALCOLM X, The Ballot or the Bullet.
  • M. WALZER, Political Alienation and Military Service, in M. WALZER, Obligations: Essays on Disobedience, War, and Citizenship, pp. 99-119.
  • R. DWORKIN, Taking Rights Seriously, in R. DWORKIN, Taking Rights Seriously, pages 184-205, What about Berlin instead of Mill?
  • M. FRIEDMAN, Capitalism and Freedom, chapter 1 The Relation Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom.
  • T.H. GREEN, Lecture on Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract.
  • A. SMITH, The Wealth of Nations, Book I, chapters. 1-2.
  • J. RAWLS, Justice as Fairness, Philosophical Review 67, 1958, pages 164-194.
  • D. JOHNSTON, A Brief History of Justice, chapter 8 The Theory Of Justice as Fairness.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)


Last change 23/03/2017 10:40