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Instructor Class Description

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Jack Turner Iii
POL S 201
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Political Theory

Philosophical bases of politics and political activity. Provides an introduction to the study of politics by the reading of a few books in political philosophy. Organized around several key political concepts, such as liberty, equality, justice, authority, rights, and citizenship. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description


One of the most enduring controversies in Western political thought is how to properly conceptualize the relationship between freedom, economics, and citizenship. Aristotle sharply distinguished between the economic and political realms, and held that humans experienced freedom—which consisted in civic activity—only in the latter. The English philosopher, John Locke, however, saw freedom, economics, and citizenship as integrally interrelated: government exists to protect not only persons but also property, and freedom largely consists in the ability to accumulate and enjoy property without the threat of either anarchy or tyranny. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels agreed with Locke that freedom, economics, and citizenship were integrally interrelated, but Marx and Engels thought private property was antithetical to freedom, and reconceived citizenship as revolution against capitalism. The twentieth-century political theorist Hannah Arendt sought to transcend the legacies of Locke, on the one hand, and Marx and Engels, on the other, and to reformulate the Aristotelian conception of freedom as primarily political, existing entirely beyond the economic realm—that is, beyond the realm of material necessity.

This course introduces you to political theory by tracing the long evolution of this controversy over the proper relation between freedom, economics, and citizenship. Though Aristotle, Locke, Marx and Engels, and Arendt figure most centrally in the storyline, we will also consider works by Plato, Thomas Hobbes, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Constant, G. W. F. Hegel, Eugene Debs, and Wilson Carey McWilliams. Heavy emphasis will be placed on enhancing your skills in writing and argument.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Jack Turner Iii
Date: 11/09/2012