Social and Political Thought
INSTRUCTOR: Dr. James Gerrie
Home Phone: 905-524-1995|
Office: OD 204
Office Phone: 519-756-8228 X 5766|
Office Hours: Wed 5:30 - 6:50 p.m.
Classroom: OD 107|
This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to ideas that shape our contemporary world.
What do liberty, equality and tolerance mean?
Where did these ideas originate?
What other ideas have challenged and changed the way we look at the world?
Topics like private property, capitalism, communism, liberalism, feminism and justice will be discussed.
Students will read essential commentators like Aristotle, Machiavelli, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, Marx, Orwell, Wollstonecraft and Fukuyama
Elizabeth Smith and H. Gene Blocker. 1994. Applied Social and Political Philosophy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-816448-7
Each student will be responsible for a mini essay (5%), a position paper
(25%), a midterm (30%) and a final exam (40%). The position paper is
an exercise in critically analyzing a lecture, assigned readings and sometimes a class video and answering a question raised in those materials (also to be
assigned). It should be from 1500 words in length and must also serve
as the basis for a brief oral presentation consisting of arguments and questions
meant to spur class discussion. It will provide the student with an
opportunity to develop a position in depth on a specific course
topic. The midterm and final exams both consist of multiple-choice,
short-answer and essay type questions based on the assigned readings, lectures
and class discussions.
- Date: Jan 5
Lecture: Social and Political Philosophy: Ancients and Today
Discussion Question: What is politics? What is political theory?
- Date: Jan 12
Reading: pp. 1-48
Discussion Question: What, most fundamentally, is the purpose of politics and the state?
Lecture: Enlightenment and Human Nature
** Mini Essay Due **
- Date: Jan 19
Lecture: Industrial Revolution
Reading: pp. 49-89
Discussion Question: Are human beings and all human actions ultimately selfish in nature?
- Date: Jan 26
Reading: pp. 153-169
Discussion Question: What is the true source of profit and wealth?
Lecture: Liberalism and its Critics
- Date: Feb 2
Reading: pp. 191-225
Discussion Question: By what ultimate principle should wealth be distributed in society?
Lecture: The Extent of Personal Liberty
- Date: Feb 9
Reading: pp. 249-313
Discussion Question: Should pornography be controlled by the state? If so, What definition would you recommend by which pornography should be banned?
Lecture: Human Rights/Review
- Date: Feb 16
** Midterm **
- Date: March 2
Reading: pp. 314-356
Discussion Question: What is the ultimate basis for the moral force of human rights?
Lecture: The Rights and Welfare of the Environment, Animals and Future Generations
- Date: March 9
Reading: pp. 362-408
Discussion Question: Should animals have rights? If so, what rights should they have?
- Date: March 16
Reading: pp. 409-449
Discussion Question: Can affirmative action programs be fair?
Lecture: Economic Justice
- Date: March 23
Reading: pp. 488-501, pp. 511-518
Discussion Question: Do indigenous people in Canada have a right to
Lecture: Religion, State and the Limits of Tolerance
- Date: March 30
Reading: pp. 115-139, pp. 519-528
Discussion Question: Is it wrong for Iran to have a government that does not recognize a distinction between religion and the state?
- Students with disabilities or special needs are advised to contact Laurier's Special Needs Office for information regarding its services and resources. Students are encouraged to review the Calendar for information regarding all services available on campus.
- Wilfrid Laurier University uses software that can check for plagiarism. Students may be required to submit their written work in electronic form and have it checked for plagiarism.
- Students are expected to be aware of and abide by University regulations and policies, as outlined in the current Undergraduate Calendar (the web version is the official Calendar).
- Students must reserve the examination period of April 8-27, 2005. If you are considering registering for a special examination or event, you should select a time outside the examination period. Consult with the Undergraduate Calendar (print or web version) for special circumstances for examination deferment.
- "After class call 886-FOOT for a walk or drive home - No Walk is Too Short or Too Long!!!"
- The penalties for plagiarism or any form of academic misconduct are severe and enforced at all times. The Student Code of Conduct and Discipline, and the procedures for investigating and determining appropriate disciplinary measures for breaches of the Code are given in the current Undergraduate Calendar.
- Students are to adhere to the Principles in the Use of Information Technology. These Principles and resulting actions for breaches are stated in the current Undergraduate Calendar.