Briercrest College

Class Syllabus



Joel L. From, Ph.D.                                                                   Office: Room # 132

Winter 2007                                                                               Office Hours: M/W: 4:00-5:00 p.m.

3 Credit Hours                                                                          Office: 756-3203

<>                                                               Home: 756-2847







This course will critically analyze and evaluate philosophical theories of political and social organization. Attention will be given to primary source documents and to the social and intellectual milieu surrounding these classic theories. Authors studied will include: Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill and Marx.





Classics in Political Philosophy. Jene M. Porter, ed. 3d ed. Scarborough, ON: Prentice Hall Canada, 2000.  ISBN: 0130821985.


Hallowell, John H., and Jene M. Porter. Political Philosophy: The Search for Humanity and Order. Scarborough, ON: Prentice Hall Canada, 1997.  ISBN: 0130639915.


Class Notes: Each student is required to purchase a voucher for the Social and Political Philosophy class notes at the bookstore. These notes will be distributed throughout the term. The bookstore will send your instructor a notice to confirm your purchase.


Quick Reference Format Guide 2006-07: Each student is required to have a copy of the current Quick Reference Format Guide. If you do not possess one, please purchase one at the bookstore.





A.      Each student is invited to participate in a work group of approximately 3 members. The major task assigned to these groups is to produce a 2-3 page summary of the argument(s) contained in the primary-source readings by Augustine, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. Each group will choose two of these philosophers to summarize. The summaries are due as follows: Augustine, February  8th; Machiavelli, February 22d; Hobbes, March 1st; Locke, March 20th, and Rousseau, March 27th. Your instructor will randomly choose one student (from among those who completed a given summary) to orally present his or her group summary. If you are chosen to do the oral report you will receive up to five bonus marks. (You may only do one oral report for bonus marks during the term.) I will also accept personal ‘dissenting opinion’ summaries if you find yourself in substantial disagreement with the group summary.

          Value:          15% x 2 = 30% (+ 5% bonus, where applicable)


B.      Each student is invited to write a 2500+ word thesis defense paper dealing with a substantive issue in political philosophy. Typically, these papers will concentrate on a controversial issue within the thought of a single philosopher. Your paper will be primarily evaluated on its argument, that is, its critical appraisal of the issue. It is very important that your analysis be philosophical (conceptual and reconstructive) and not just a chronicle of what others have said. Students should submit drafts of their papers to the other members of their work group and their instructor no later than March 15th (no late papers will be accepted). Each group member will then write a 2-3 page evaluation of the others’ drafts by March 27th and return a copy of the same to its author and his or her instructor. Students are invited to revise their papers in accordance with the recommendations offered. The final drafts and portfolio (which should include the first draft and evaluations by peers) are due on April 10th.

         Draft:                                        20%

         Evaluation of Others’ Drafts:       10%

          Final Draft:                                10%


C.      Each student will write a Final Exam (as scheduled by the Registrar) worth 30% of the course grade.





OUTLINE                                                           READINGS


Introduction                                                           Political Philosophy (PP), xi-xvi



Plato: Political Philosophy Versus Politics               Classics in Political Philosophy, 1-44, 45-100

                                                                            PP, 1-54


Aristotle: Political Art as Virtuous Deliberation          Classics, 101-73

                                                                            PP, 55-95


The Hellenistic Age and the Roman Lawyers   PP, 96-125



Augustine: The Limitations of Political Life                Classics, 174-202

                                                                            PP, 126-74


Aquinas: Aristotle, Law, and the Good of Man Classics, 203-24

                                                                            [PP, 175-224]


Machiavelli: That The Glory Might Return                  Classics, 247-63

                                                                            [PP, 225-76]


Hobbes: Sovereign Volition as Political Order  Classics, 264-85, 285-328

                                                                            PP, 277-340


Locke: Government as Institutionalized Freedom      Classics, 329-80

                                                                            PP, 341-416


Rousseau: The (Un)Social Contract                         Classics, 381-436

                                                                            PP, 417-86


J. S. Mill and Utilitarianism                                     Classics, 503-43

                                                                            [PP, 487-550]


Karl Marx                                                              Classics, 554-96

                                                                            [PP, 551-604]


Nietzsche and The End of History                            Classics, 597-655

                                                                            [PP, 605-34]





(Materials Available in Archibald Library)



Alder, Mortimer J., and Peter Wolff. The Development of Political Theory and Government. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1959.


Annas, Julia. An introduction to Plato's Republic. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981.


Aquinas, Thomas. Nature and Grace, Selections from the Summa Theologica. Translated and edited by A. M. Fairweather. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954.


Arendt, Hannah. On Revolution. New York: Viking Press, 1963.


Aristotle. The Ethics of Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. J. A. K. Thomson. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976.


Augustine, Saint. The Political Writings of St. Augustine. Edited by Henry Paolucci. Chicago: Gateway Editions, 1985.


Bacon, Francis. The History of the Reign of King Henry VII and Selected Works.  Edited by Brian Vickers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.


Burke, Edmund. The Philosophy of Edmund Burke: A Selection from His Speeches and Writings. Edited by Louis I. Bredvolt and Ralph G. Ross. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1960.


________. On the American Revolution: Selected Speeches and Letters. Edited by Elliott Robert Barkan. New York: Harper & Row, 1966.


________. Reflections on the Revolution in France. New York: Doubleday, 1961.


Chaplin, Jonathan and Paul Marshall. Political Theory and Christian Vision. Langham, MD: University Press of America, 1994.


Comte, Auguste. Early Political Writings. Edited by H. S. Jones. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.


Feinberg, Joel. Social Philosophy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:  Prentice-Hall, 1973.


Goldsmith, M. M. Hobbes's Science of Politics. New York: Columbia University Press, 1966.


Hall, John Cecil. Rousseau: An Introduction to His Political Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Schenkman Pub. Co., 1973.


Hallowell, John H., and Jene M. Porter. Political Philosophy: The Search for Humanity and Order. Scarborough, Ont.: Prentice Hall Canada, 1997.


Hamilton, Alexander, John Jay, and James Madison. The Federalist Papers. New York: Pocket Books, 1964.


Harris, Ian. The Mind of John Locke: A Study of Political Theory in its Intellectual Setting.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.


Havelock, Eric A. The Greek Concept of Justice: From its Shadow in Homer to its Substance in Plato. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978.


Hegel, Georg W. F. Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Translated by Thomas M. Knox. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965.


Hobbes, Thomas. On the Citizen. Translated by Richard Tuck and Michael Silverthorne. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.


Hooker, Richard. Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. Edited by Arthur S. McGrade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.


Laslett, Peter. Philosophy, Politics and Society: A Collection. Oxford: Blackwell, 1956.


Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Civil Government. New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1952.


Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Edited by Quentin Skinner and Russell Price. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.


Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Trans. Samuel Moore. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967.


Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. Edited by Stefan Collini. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.


More, Thomas. Utopia.  Edited by Edward Surtz. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964.


Morris, Charles Richard, and Mary Morris. A History of Political Ideas. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1929.


Oakeshott, Michael J. “Introduction to Leviathan.” In Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays. Indianapolis: LibertyFund, 1991.


Oakeshott, Michael J. “The Moral Life in the Writings of Thomas Hobbes.” In Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays. Indianapolis: LibertyFund, 1991.


Ockham, William. A short discourse on the tyrannical government over things divine and human, but especially over the Empire and those subject to the Empire, usurped by some who called highest pontiffs. Edited by Arthur S. McGrade. Translated by John Kilcullen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.


Paine, Thomas. Common Sense. New York: Willey Book Co., 1942.


Plato. The Republic of Plato; an Ideal Commonwealth. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. New York: Colonial Press, 1901.


Plato. The Laws of Plato. Translated by A. E. Taylor. London:  J. M. Dent & Sons, 1960.


Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1971.


Rosenblum, Nancy L. Bentham's Theory of the Modern State. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978.


Sabine, George Holland. A History of Political Theory. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961.


Seneca. Moral and Political Essays. Edited and translated by John M. Cooper and J. F. Procope. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.


Social Contract: Essays by Locke, Hume, and Rousseau. Introduction by Ernest Barker. New York: Oxford University Press, 1962.


Social Contract: Essays by Locke, Hume, and Rousseau. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962.


Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America. Translated by Henry Reeve. Edited by Henry Steele Commager. London: Oxford University Press, 1946.


Voltaire, Francois. Political Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.


Watkins, John W. N. Hobbes's System of Ideas: A Study in the Political Significance of Philosophical Theories. London: Hutchinson, 1965.


Weber, Max. Political Writings. Edited and translated by Peter Lassman and Ronald Speirs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.


Wiser, James L. Political Philosophy: A History of the Search for Order. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1983.

[1]Course content, requirements, and examination times are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances.