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Political Thought 2013

First Semester 2013
Graduate Diploma in Social Sciences
Nepā School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Instructor: Hari Sharma

Course Description

The study of politics is shaped by concepts and methods that have developed over the last three centuries and beyond. The study of political theory is concerned with the meanings and justification of those concepts and their continuing relevance to the nature of modern politics. The course is primarily a reading of modern political thought as a history of political thought.

Course Objectives

Main goal of this course is to familiarize students with some of the major thinkers and movements within political thought and to trace some of the major theoretical questions through modern political thought, including: What is the purpose of politics? Is politics natural or positive? What is the role of coercion in politics? What is the relationship between the individual and society? How is gender significant to politics? The course will orientate students to how political philosophers have addressed core theoretical concepts, such as liberty, equality, human nature, virtue/morality, citizenship, law, religion, sovereignty, epistemology, among others. Students will explore rival theoretical frameworks such as natural law, utilitarianism, egalitarianism, communitarians and Marxism. Above all, the objective of the course is to cultivate students’ abilities to critically engage with primary texts, participate in and contribute to the shared inquiry of theoretical dialogue, and to write concisely and analytically. The course is designed to help students become more self-conscious of their assumptions about political life and to develop their abilities to critically assess and evaluate complex theoretical arguments.

At the end of this course and after having completed the essential readings, the student should be able to identify and explain different concepts and how they vary among thinkers; assess the strength and weaknesses of different theories; and write analytical essays that explain and paraphrase clearly and concisely complex arguments.

Course Requirements

Class Participation: We will have two classes a week; each class will be 90 minutes. The classes are to be divided into two components: lecture and seminar discussion. The first class of the week will be lecture based and for understanding the context, life and times of the thinkers while the second will be held in the seminar format where we will read the text assigned for the week.

Periodic Assignments and Tests

Final Sit-in Written Examination

 


 

Detailed Course Outline


Week 1: Puzzling through Politics and Political Philosophy

Introduction to the nature of political thought and theory: theory as conceptual tools for everyday understanding and living, philosophical considerations, political thought as history, political thought and the claims of science, political thought and practice, political thinkers: an overview; perennial problems; what is a classic text?

Required Readings
Zuckerman, Alan S., “The Point of Departure” in Howlett, Michael and David Laycock (eds.), The Puzzles of Power: An Introduction to Political Science (2nd ed.), Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 6-15.

Isaak, Alan C., “Is Political Science a Science?” in Howlett, Michael and David Laycock (eds.), The Puzzles of Power: An Introduction to Political Science (2nd ed.), Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 16-26.

Boucher, David and Paul Kelly, “Introduction” in Boucher, David and Paul Kelly (eds.), Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present (2nd ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp.  1-20.

Week 2: What is Political Theory?

Required Readings

Bhargava, Rajeev, “What is Political Theory” in Bhargarva, Rajeev and Ashok Acharya (eds.) Political Theory : An Introduction, New Delhi, Pearson Education, 2008, pp. 2-17.
Bhargava, Rajeev, “Why do We Need Political Theory” in Bhargarva, Rajeev and Ashok Acharya (eds.)  Political Theory: An Introduction, New Delhi: Pearson Education, 2008, pp. 18-37.

Pocock, J.G. A., “Theory in History: Problems of Context and Narrative” in Dryzek, John S., Bonnie Honig and Anne Philips (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 163-174.

Week 3: Classical Origin of Political Order: Plato

Introductory Reading
Roberts, Peri and Sutch, Peter, “Plato : Is there a Universal Moral Order” in  An Introduction to Political Thought A Conceptual Toolkit, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, First Indian Reprint, 2005, (First Published by Edinburgh University Press, 2004), pp. 23-45.

Text:
Somerville, John and Santoni, Ronald E. (eds.), “The Republic” in Social and Political Philosophy, New York: Anchor Books, 1963, pp. 1-45.

Week 4: Classical Origin of Political Order: Aristotle

Introductory Reading
Roberts, Peri and Sutch, Peter, “Aristotle : Is Politics Natural” in  An Introduction to Political Thought A Conceptual Toolkit, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, First Indian Reprint, 2005, (First Published by Edinburgh University Press, 2004), pp. 46-68.

Text:
Somerville, John and Santoni, Ronald E. (eds.), “Politics” in Social and Political Philosophy, New York: Anchor Books, 1963, pp. 59-100.

Week 5 and 6:  Modern Developments in Politics Thought: Contract Theories of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau

Introductory Readings
Roberts, Peri and Sutch, Peter, “Hobbes Locke and Rousseau- Liberty and Human Nature: What is Freedom?” in  An Introduction to Political Thought A Conceptual Toolkit, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, First Indian Reprint, 2005, (First Published by Edinburgh University Press, 2004), pp. 69-102.

Roberts, Peri and Sutch, Peter, “Hobbes Locke and Rousseau II  - The Social Contract and the Artificiality of  the State” in  An Introduction to Political Thought A Conceptual Toolkit, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, First Indian Reprint, 2005, (First Published by Edinburgh University Press, 2004), pp. 102-124

Texts: Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau
Hobbes, Thomas, “Leviathan” in Cohen, Mitchell and Nicole Fermon (eds.), Princeton Readings in Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 205-242.

Locke, John, “Second Treatise of Government” in Cohen, Mitchell and Nicole Fermon (eds.), Princeton Readings in Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 243-279.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, “On the Social Contract” and “Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality and Among Men” in Cohen, Mitchell and Nicole Fermon (eds.), Princeton Readings in Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 280-292 and 293-313.

Week 7:  Contemporary Understanding of Political Thought: Bentham and Mill

Introductory Reading
Roberts, Peri and Sutch, Peter, Bentham, Utilitarianism and Rights : How Do We Take People Seriously? in An Introduction to Political Thought A Conceptual Toolkit, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, First Indian Reprint, 2005, (First Published by Edinburgh University Press, 2004), pp.153-180
 
Texts: Bentham and Mill
Bentham, Jeremy, “An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation” in Cohen, Mitchell and Nicole Fermon (eds.), Princeton Readings in Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 371-374.

Mill, John Stuart, “On Liberty” in Cohen, Mitchell and Nicole Fermon (eds.), Princeton Readings in Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 375-388.

Week 8: Kant: Enlightenment and political theory

Introduction: Kant and contemporary Liberalism, the Copernican turn, Virtue and Right, Property and Political Obligation, Revolution and Reform, The Global Research of Justice.

Introductory Reading
Flikschuh, Katrin A., “Kant” in Boucher, David and Paul Kelly (eds.), Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present (2nd ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 422-436.

Texts:
Kant, Immannuel, “An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?, Translated by H.B. Nisbet, London: Penguin Books, 2009, pp. 1-11.

Foucault, Michel, “What is Enlightenment?” in Rabinow, Paul (ed.) The Foucault Reader, New York: Pantheon Books, 1984, pp. 32-50.

Week 9: Hegel: Freedom of Mind

Introduction, freedom, spirit and dialectic, from property to state, Hegel’s significance.

Introductory Reading
Patten, Alan, “Hegel” in Boucher, David and Paul Kelly (eds.), Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present (2nd ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 440-458.

Texts:
Hegel, G.W.F., “Philosophy of Right” in Cohen, Mitchell and Nicole Fermon (eds.), Princeton Readings in Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 425-434.

Week 10: Marx and Marxism

Introduction, the manifesto of the Communist Party, ideology, the critique of political economy, ‘forces’ and ‘relations’ of the production, revolutionary politics and the state, Engel’s contribution to Marxism.

Texts:
Marx, Karl, “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy”,
“Estranged Labour”,
“The Communist Manifesto” and “After the Revolution” in Cohen, Mitchell and Nicole Fermon (eds.), Princeton Readings in Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 435-466.

Lenin, V.I., “What is to be Done?” and
“The State and Revolution” in
Cohen, Mitchell and Nicole Fermon (eds.), Princeton Readings in Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 530-534 and 534-543.

Week 11: Understanding Justice: Rawls, Nozick and Sen

Introduction, ‘the first principle’ equal basic liberties, the second principles; distributive economic justice, the original position and debates in and around A Theory of Justice (Rawls’ path-breaking work).

Introductory Reading
Martin, Rex, “Rawls” in Boucher, David and Paul Kelly (eds.), Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present (2nd ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 554-574.

Texts:
Rawls, John, “A Theory of Justice” in Cohen, Mitchell and Nicole Fermon (eds.), Princeton Readings in Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 669-697.

Nozick, Robert, “Anarchy, State and Utopia” in Cohen, Mitchell and Nicole Fermon (eds.), Princeton Readings in Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 698-708.

Sen, Amartya, ‘Justice: Freedom versus Means’ in Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1990, pp. 111-121.

Week 12: Feminism, Gender and Justice

Introduction, sexual equality and sexual discrimination, the public and private.

Introductory Readings
Wymlicka, Will, “Feminism” in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (2nd ed., Indian ed.), New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 377-430.


Pateman, Carole, “Feminism and Democracy” in Howlett, Michael and David Laycock (eds.), The Puzzles of Power: An Introduction to Political Science (2nd ed.), Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 39-50.

Okin, Susan, ‘Justice and Gender’ in Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1987, pp. 42-72.

Nussbaum, Martha, “Women and Cultural Universals” in Sex and Social Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 29-54.

Kapur, Ratna, “Emancipatory  feminist theory in postcolonial India: Unmasking the ruse of liberal internationalism” in Singh, Aakash and Silika Mohapatra (eds.), Indian Political Thought : A Reader, London: Routledge, 2010, pp. 257-268.

Week 13: Critique of Modernity and Alternatives: Reading Gandhi

Introduction, life and times of Gandhi, the idea of Satyagraha, non violence, resistance, political power and critique of western civilization.

Introductory Reading
Parel, Anthony J., “Editor’s Introduction” in Parel, Anthony J. (eds.) Gandhi- Hind Swaraj and Other Writings (Cambridge Texts in Modern Politics), New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 1997 (2009 reprint), pp. xiii-lxii.

Dhareshwar, Vivek, “Politics, Experience and Cognitive Enslavement:Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj” in Bilgrami, Akeel (ed.), Democratic Culture Historical and Philosophical Essays,  New Delhi: Routledge, 2011, pp. 64-86.

Text:
Gandhi, M.K, Hind Swaraj, Ahmadabad: Nav Jivan Trust, 1975.

Week 14: Is there Non-Western Political Thought?

Parekh, Bhikhu, “The poverty of Indian Political Theory” in Singh, Aakash and Silika Mohapatra (eds.), Indian Political Thought : A Reader, London: Routledge, 2010, pp. 19-30.

Dallmayr, Fred, “Liberal Democracy and its Critics: Some Voices from East and West, in Bilgrami, Akeel (ed.), Democratic Culture Historical and Philosophical Essays,  New Delhi: Routledge, 2011, pp. 1-22.

Chatterjee, Partha, “The poverty of Western Political Theory: concluding remarks on concepts like ‘community’ East and West’ in Singh, Aakash and Silika Mohapatra (eds.), Indian Political Thought : A Reader, London: Routledge, 2010, pp. 287-299.


Week 15: Review