PLSC 300B: Moral Dilemmas in Political Theory
MWF 12:35pm / LSC
For some moral theorists, moral dilemmas signal a defect in moral reasoning. If we think longer, harder, or better we can see the apparent conflicts are actually resolvable. For others, dilemmas are the inevitable product of the fundamental plurality of values that structure human life: Moral life is sometimes tragic, and sometimes we are forced to make hard choices. Political theorists, on the other hand, call attention to the institutional contexts of value conflicts and to the fact that they are signs of our embeddedness in unequal relations of power. Moral philosophers’ focus on dilemmas tends to isolate people and to focus our attention on the problem of moral choice, (“What should I do?), while political theorists see individuals in larger contexts (families, communities, states) and find in dilemmas an invitation to focus not on individual choice but on the social forces that generate dilemmas, and often do so for some more than others.
In this course, we will think about moral dilemmas both in moral and political terms, and explore the intersection of morality, politics, and ethics.
PLSC 306: Modern Political Thought
MWF 9:20am / LSC
PLSC 308: Contemporary Political Thought
TTh 11:30am / LSC
The dawn of the Twentieth Century was marked by an increase in skepticism at the prospect of "modern progress." Modern political institutions, though rational and scientific, were revealed to be places devoid of any lasting human meaning or purpose. Though modern societies could boast an increase in individual freedom as one of their stated objectives, the members themselves started to exhibit traits of universal conformity and a lack of individual volition. This notion of a "mass society" devoid of any individual distinction was seen as an unfulfilling condition. It was also dangerously susceptible to the manipulations of those in positions of authority. What resulted is the rise of the totalitarian state: a new type of regime that rested on the powerful new tools of science, mass communication, and the general apathy inherent in a modern apolitical population. This course is a reexamination of the fundamental assumptions of political theory in light of the horrific failings of political practice in recent history. If it is the case that we live in a perfectly rational political system, then why are human beings so empty of real fulfillment within them? Is a “better way” even possible?
PLSC 312: Feminist Theory
MWF 1:40pm / LSC
Feminism says that men and women should be equal, but in what ways? This course examines the answers various feminist thinkers have given to this question during the past two centuries. Examples of liberal, radical, and standpoint feminism will be assessed. In each case we will see that what feminists want is rooted in a distinctive analysis of women’s plight in contemporary society. This Political Theory course is cross-listed with the Women's Studies Program (WOST 318).