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North Idaho College • Coeur d'Alene • Social & Behavioral Sciences • Philosophy

Political and Social Philosophy PHIL-205

  • Fall 2012
  • Section 01
  • 3.0 Credits
  • 08/27/2012 to 12/20/2012
  • Modified 08/26/2012

Contact Information

Instructor: Dr. Edward Kaitz

Office Hours

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM, LKH 229
  • Monday, Wednesday, 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM, LKH 229
  • Friday, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM, LKH 229

Meeting Times


  • Monday, Wednesday, 1:00 PM to 2:15 PM, LKH 242


This class will examine some of the fundamental questions that have shaped Western political thought since its inception in fifth century B.C. Athens, together with some of the most influential answers that political theorists since then have proposed. Some of the issues we will be addressing include the essential characteristics of human nature and the good society, the relationship between the individual and society, and the fundamental dynamics of political change. The questions associated with these issues include: Is human nature essentially spirit or matter? Is human nature fixed or malleable? Is it innately violent and aggressive or nonviolent and cooperative? What is the relationship of individual freedom to social and political authority? What constitutes legitimate political authority? Are there inexorable laws of history that produce change? Are humans fundamentally equal or unequal? We will also investigate the timeless theme of idealism and realism in political philosophy on the national and on the international level. Lecture: 3 hours per week Recommended prerequisite: PHIL-101



  • Author: Plato
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore


  • Author: Aristotle
  • Publisher: Dover
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore

The Prince

  • Author: Machiavelli
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore


  • Author: Hobbes
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore

The Second Treatise of Government and A Letter Concerning Tolerance

  • Author: Locke
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore

On the Social Contract

  • Author: Rousseau
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore

The Communist Manifesto and Other Revolutionary Writings

  • Author: Blaisdell, Ed.
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore

The Road to Serfdom

  • Author: Hayek
  • Publisher: University of Chicago
  • Edition: Definitive Edition
  • ISBN: 0226320553
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore


Political and Social Philosophy (Phil 205) Course Outcomes:


1. Read, interpret, and explain classic and modern texts in the tradition of western political philosophy


2. Identify and explain the major philosophical themes in the tradition of western political philosophy including conceptions of justice, freedom, legitimate authority, power, political change and stability, tyranny, and human nature.


3. Understand how conceptions of justice in the western philosophical tradition have affected the course of western history and the shape of western political institutions


4. Become comfortable debating and challenging an array of competing ideas about what constitutes a just political system



Grading Structure:

There will be four take-home essay exams - 3 midterms (15% each) and a final (20%).   Each exam will consist of six short-essay type questions – answers must be typed, single-spaced, and about ½ page in length for each question.  In addition, an 8 page paper (typed, double-spaced, 1.0” margins) also worth 20% of the grade will be due at the end of the semester on a topic of the student’s choice relevant to the material covered during the course.  Also, at the end of each week a take home quiz will be given consisting of several questions that address the week’s readings (15% of grade).

Course Policies

Course Policies

Course Policies:

1) Please arrive to class on time. 2) Please do not carry on conversations with your neighbor during lecture (questions, comments and discussion are normal for a course like this but make sure to listen carefully during lecture).  3) Please turn off cell phones, ipods, blackberries, iphones, laptops, etc. before you enter the classroom - this means no texting!  4) Please do not leave class during lecture.  5) Please use the restroom before class and before exams.  Students who violate these policies (esp. texting) will be asked to leave for the duration of the class.

Course Policies

Course Policies:

1) Please arrive to class on time. 2) Please do not carry on conversations with your neighbor during lecture (questions, comments and discussion are normal for a course like this but make sure to listen carefully during lecture).  3) Please turn off cell phones, ipods, blackberries, laptops, etc. This means no texting!  4) Please do not leave class during lecture.  5) Please use the restroom before class and before exams.  Students who violate these policies will be asked to leave for the duration of the class.  Thanks!


8/27         General Introduction: (Philosophical, Literary, Historical Background to Plato: Hinduism, Thucydides, Sophocles, Xenophon, Aristophanes)

(We will be discussing the various influences on Plato’s political philosophy.  For example, we’ll examine the values of education, merit, and caste in Hindu philosophy, descriptions of human nature by the Greek historian Thucydides, conceptions of objective truth by the Greek writer Sophocles, perspectives on Greek democracy by Xenophon and the comic playwright Aristophanes.  This will help introduce the course to the timeless questions with which Plato struggled in his political philosophy: equality, inequality, education, merit, human nature, democracy, self-mastery, and eternal conceptions of justice).

 8/29-9/12         Plato (Republic); Reading Assignment: Republic

(The class will begin a fairly thorough investigation into the Socratic case for justice and the ideal political regime as Plato presented it in his timeless masterpiece, The Republic.  Although a thorough reading of the entire Republic would take a good semester, we’ll examine how Socrates addresses issues such as education, human nature, gender relations, merit, self-discipline, regime change, political corruption, economics, and how each of these issues relates to the ideal regime.  The Republic will unveil the broad array of issues with which subsequent political philosophers struggled)

9/17-9/24        Aristotle (Politics); Reading Assignment: Politics  (EXAM)

(We will examine Plato’s famous student Aristotle and Aristotle’s critique of Plato’s Republic. In his Politics, Aristotle favors more of a “middle class” type rule as being the most practical as opposed to Plato’s argument in favor of “Philosopher Kings.”  Aristotle’s arguments concerning human nature, scientific observation, and historical evidence leads him to believe that a stable regime must involve more participation and debate.  He agrees however with Plato on the dangers of mob rule, the value of education and individual self-control, and the objective basis for philosophical knowledge about justice)

9/26-10/1       Machiavelli (Prince, Discourses);   Reading Assignment: The Prince; Discourses (handout)

(After a brief description of the evolution of philosophical thought from Ancient Greece to Medieval Europe, we’ll take a look at one of the most famous treatises on statecraft ever written: Machiavelli’s “The Prince.”  We’ll examine why Machiavelli believed that idealistic regimes of the type favored by Plato and Aristotle (to some extent) actually were counterproductive in the end and that security, order, and peace could only come at the hand of a ruler who at times had to “learn how not to be good.”  For Machiavelli, if the end result is beneficial, the ruler should feel no qualms about being deceptive.  We’ll also take a look at portions of Machiavelli’s “Discourses” which presents a more refined case for leadership, political participation, and constitutional guidelines.)

10/3-10/10      Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan); Reading Assignment: Leviathan

(Hobbes is famous for attempting to bring the latest scientific knowledge of the Renaissance into political philosophy.  Hobbes wants to argue that a deeper knowledge of human nature can help us build better political societies.  Hobbes favors an extremely strong “Sovereign” ruler who creates order and peace in a world that tends toward division and suspicion.  Hobbes will argue that his political theory is actually backed up by science and physics.  Hobbes says that all regimes built upon debate, democracy, constitutions, and a division of power will ultimately crumble due to the lack of strong leadership.  Much of Hobbes’ thought is apparent in present day, more authoritarian regimes, but Hobbes will attempt to persuade us that we should accept that authoritarian power as beneficial)  

10/15-10/22     John Locke (Second Treatise of Government);  Reading Assignment: The Second Treatise of Government; (Exam)

(Here we will examine John Locke’s famous and influential argument regarding limited government, popular rule, divided government, and constitutionalism.  Locke strongly opposed Hobbes and was highly suspicious of concentrated authority.  We will also examine Locke’s early promotion of the free-market and his profound influence onAmerica’s founding fathers.)

10/24-10/31    Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on Inequality; Of the Social Contract); Reading Assignment: Blaisdell, 1-35 + Part I - handout; Of the Social Contract

(Rousseau, like Locke, was enormously influential but his theory worked more to promote socialism rather than limited government and capitalism.  Rousseau argued that humans were innately cooperative but the consumer society corrupted human nature and made harmonious societies impossible.  Rousseau wanted to promote social harmony by restricting any inequality and private property and favoring a more modern version of Plato’s philosopher kings, but with a heavy emphasis on popular participation.  Rousseau heavily influenced both the French Revolution and Karl Marx.)

11/5-11/7    Adam Smith (The Theory of Moral Sentiments; The Wealth of Nations); Reading Assignment: (handouts)

(This portion of the course will examine the political and economic thought of Adam Smith, considered to be the “father of capitalism.”  We’ll take a look at two of Smith’s most influential writings in which he discusses human nature and prosperity and why the free-market and limited government is essential to a flourishing society.  We’ll also examine why Smith was highly distrustful of political schemes that attempted to invade the proper sphere of individual decision-making)

11/12-11/14    Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson (The Federalist Papers, Declaration); Reading Assignment: Fed. Papers (# 10, 51 - handouts); Blaisdell, 63-66; (Exam) 

    (Here we will read the political philosophy that formed the basis for the U.S. Constitution.  The Federalist Papers represent the conclusions ofAmerica’s most influential political thinkers, all of whom had done a thorough investigation of previous political philosophy in order to construct what they thought would be a stable, free, prosperous regime.  We’ll take a look then at the influences on thinkers such as Jefferson and Madison, especially John Locke.)

11/19     Alexis de Tocqueville (Old Regime and French Rev./Democracy in America); Reading Assignment: Handouts Maréchal/Marat and the French Revolution:  Reading Assignment: Blaisdell, 82-84; 92-95 

 (We will examine the French thinker Alexis de Tocqueville and his influential perspective on American government and society in the nineteenth century.  Tocqueville was very interested in the relationship and tension between freedom and equality and also the kinds of despotisms to which democratic regimes are subject.  We’ll also take a look at revolutionary French writers Marechal and Marat, both of whom favored a kind of radical egalitarianism in politics.)

11/26-11/28   Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels (Communist Manifesto); Reading Assignment: Communist Manifesto (Blaisdell 123-150)

(We’ll examine the enormously influential thought of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.  By means of a thorough reading of the Communist Manifesto we’ll investigate Marx’s view of progress, human nature, money, industry, economics, inequality, and human flourishing.  Marx’s view of “social justice” continues to inform many modern political movements).

 12/3    John Rawls (A Theory of Justice); Reading Assignment: Handout

(Here we will examine contemporary political philosopher John Rawls, who attempted through a modern “social contract” theory to combine the best elements of a free and equal society with as little negative fallout as possible.  Rawls wanted the benefits of wealth redistribution with as little limitation as possible on human freedom)

12/5-12/12   F.A. Hayek (The Road to Serfdom); Reading Assignment: The Road to Serfdom; Chantal Delsol (The Unlearned Lessons of the 20th Century);        Reading Assignment: Handout

(The last portion of the class will examine the thought of F.A. Hayek and Chantal Delsol.  Hayek, a Nobel Prize winning economist, argued that all modern societies were drifting toward socialism, and, in the end, state control of most of society.  Hayek believed his writings could stimulate debate on this issue and help protect political and economic freedom.  Chantal Delsol, a French political philosopher, argued that the failed collectivist political experiments of the 20th century would be repeated in the 21st century).

12/12      Take Home Final Exam Passed Out

12/20        Take Home Final Exam Due;     Final Paper Due






Additional Items

Division Policies

For a complete explanation of the North Idaho College Statement on Academic Honesty & Academic Integrity please ferfer to Policy 5.06 & Procedure 5.06.01: 

Academic Dishonesty
Violations of academic integrity involve using or attempting to use any method that enables an individual to misrepresent the quality or integrity of his or her work at North Idaho College. These violations include the following:

Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study in any academic exercise.
Fabrication: falsifying or inventing any information or citation in an academic exercise.
Plagiarism: knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own in an academic exercise.
Violation of Intellectual Property: stealing, altering, or destroying the academic work of other members of the community or the educational resources,materials, or official documents of the college. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: knowingly helping another to attempt to violate any provisions of this policy.

Student Responsibility
As outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, all North Idaho College students have both rights and responsibilities: Please access www.nic.ferpa.StudentCode/index.htm for complete information that pertains to this subject.

North Idaho College, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, provides both services and accommodations to students who meet the guidelines provided in these acts.  For a complete description, please see:

Please contact the North Idaho College Center for Educational Access in Seiter Hall, Room 100 for assistance.  Phone:  208-769-5947

To withdraw from all courses a student must obtain a college withdrawal form from the Registrar's Office, secure the signatures of those persons indicated on the form, and return the form to the Registrar's office. No student may withdraw from the college after the final date of withdrawal from courses except for compelling and extraordinary reasons. In such circumstances a student must petition the Admissions and Academic Standards Committee for late withdrawal from college using the college withdrawal form available in the Registrar's Office.


For complete information regarding student withdrawals, please see the North Idaho College Policy 5.04.01: 

Institutional Policies

Student Code of Conduct

The Student Code of Conduct applies to any student enrolled at North Idaho College.  This includes, but is not limited to, face-to-face classes and Internet classes.

Student Responsibilities

As students undertake to fulfill the obligations and duties outlined in this document, the college community of which they are a part undertakes to respect the basic freedoms of students. In recognition of students’ rights and dignity as members of the college, North Idaho College is committed to the principles found in the NIC Student Handbook.

Center for Educational Access/Disability Support Services

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, North Idaho College provides accommodations to eligible students who experience barriers in the educational setting due to learning, emotional / mental, physical, visual, or hearing disabilities.  Instructors will provide accommodations to students only after having received a Letter of Accommodation from the Center for Educational Access. 

If a student would like to request accommodations, he or she must contact the Center for Educational Access so that a Letter of Accommodation may be sent to the instructor.  Students requesting accommodations must contact the Center for Educational Access at the beginning of each semester.


By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You also understand that collection costs and legal fees will be added if the services of a collection agency are utilized.

If you are registered for a class and do not attend, you will still be liable for the tuition unless you drop the class.


Last day for students to withdraw from semester-length classes:

Instructor-Initiated Withdrawal: Instructors have the right to withdraw students for academic reasons up until the same date; in doing so, instructors must notify students through NIC e-mail within 48 hours of submitting documentation to the Registrar's office, and students have the right to appeal the instructor's decision. For more information, see the NIC Procedure:

Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy: All withdrawals, whether for individual classes, total withdrawal from school, or instructor-initiated are not considered to be satisfactory progress for financial aid.  See the Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy:

Additional withdrawal information:


An incomplete is assigned only if the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work to within three weeks of the end of the semester (or proportional length of time for a course of less than a semester in length).  Incompletes are issued only in cases of extenuating circumstances, such as severe illness or injury.  Incompletes are not issued in cases in which the student is simply unable to complete his/her work within the specified semester or session.  If a final grade of "I" is recorded, the instructor will indicate in writing to the Registrar what the student must do to make up the deficiency.  The instructor will indicate in the written statement what permanent grade should be entered if the Incomplete is not removed by the deadline.

All incomplete grades must be removed within six weeks after the first class day of the following term, excluding the summer session.  If the Incomplete is not removed by that date, the grade reverts to the grade indicated by the instructor's written statement authorizing the incomplete.

Discrimination and Harassment

North Idaho College has a zero tolerance policy for any acts of discrimination or harassment of any kind.  For more information, please see the NIC Student Handbook, Code of Conduct Article III and Article VIII. Compliance efforts with respect to these laws and regulations are the responsibility of each member of the campus community and are under the direction of the Dean of Students Office for Student Issues (2nd floor, Edminster Student Union Building, (208) 676-7156) and the Human Resources Office (Sherman Administration Building, (208) 769-3304) for employee issues.

Institutional Statement

DROP FOR NON-PAYMENT:  By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You will be dropped from classes if payment is not received by  5 p.m. Pacific Time on the third day of the semester. Students on the waitlist will be given the option to register for classes after students are dropped for non-payment.

REMOVAL FROM CLASS FOR NON-ATTENDANCE:  Attendance is based on your participation in this class. Failure to attend may result in your being removed from this class and may result in your financial aid award being reduced. You are responsible for confirming the accuracy of your attendance record.