Surveys the rich intellectual tradition in political economy, from classical writings to the present. Provides a critical perspective on the development of modern capitalism.
This course examines the work of four prominent theorists in the broad tradition of political economy: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and Joseph Schumpeter. Its goals are to make you familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of their contributions to social science, and to provide you with a strong understanding of the project of social analysis that they shared.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
We will read extensively from the works of each of the four political economists, in order to understand their contributions to social theory and to place those contributions in the context of their overall visions of how human societies work. Most of this reading will be difficult, whether because of archaic language, complex ideas, or both.
This is an advanced, 400-level course. Almost all of the course readings are original writings by Smith, Marx, Keynes, or Schumpeter (the Marx readings in English translation). We proceed on the assumption that the best way to know what these people thought is to read what they wrote, and to discuss and write about it ourselves.
This course assumes that:
* You have already taken at least one IA&S course or the equivalent (300-level or above) in which you have read advanced writings in social theory, political theory, or philosophy. Prior experience reading 18th- and 19th-century European prose is highly desirable.
* You have experience writing papers that critically examine theoretical ideas.
* You are genuinely interested in learning about the thought of Smith, Marx, Keynes, and Schumpeter.
Please look carefully at the readings and the writing assignments, and talk with me, if you are in any doubt about your preparation for this course.
This course does not assume any background in the discipline of economics. It is essentially a course in social theory, with a strong emphasis on philosophy. It does not necessarily follow other courses in the IA&S program that use the term "political economy" in their titles -- for example it has relatively little to do with the material covered in IA&S 324.
Class assignments and grading
Short assignments receive full credit if they represent a reasonable effort to complete the assignment. Participation is assessed on both quality and quantitiy, but if you are going to be participate well you should plan on attending classes and arriving on time both at the beginning of class and after break. Fundamentally, participation assesses your contribution to the class as a whole.
The three short essays will be assessed on the clarity with which they grasp an important aspect of the authorís argument, and on their ability to offer a critique of that argument. The long essay will be assessed on its ability to bring the views of all four authors into focus on one issue, and its insight into why they agree or disagree. This is a 400-level class, and standards for the essays are high. Essays need to be clear on what authors thought, and show an ability to think critically about that thought. The first three essays can be rewritten and resubmitted, within a week after they are returned to you, for a higher grade.
# Completing short assignments: 15 percent # Participation: 20 percent. # Three short (1000 word) essays: 40 percent # One longer (3000-4000 word) essay examining all four theorists: 25 percent