PLSC 300B: International Political Theory
MWF 12:35pm / LSC
This course approaches the study of international politics from the perspective of political theory, a departure from mainstream international relations theory that remains largely explanatory and positivist in approach. At the same time it seeks to address the relative neglect of "the international" by many within the political theory subfield. We'll take emerging scholarship by self-identified "international political theorists" as our point of departure as we investigate a number of debates in international politics, both historical and contemporary.
PLSC 300B: Just War Theory
Tu 4:15pm / LSC
When is it permissible for one state to attack another? What limits should combatants observe once hostilities have commenced? Is it ever permissible to slaughter civilians? Should the rules of war be different for the weaker opponent? These are some of the central questions addressed by just war theory, an ethical doctrine that evaluates the use of armed force. In this capstone seminar we will critically examine the most authoritative statement of just war theory in the contemporary age and then assess a recent conflict in the light of its principles -- the war America waged in Iraq between 2003 and 2011. We will study this case in detail during the second half of the course and try to ascertain whether and to what extent America’s means and ends were morally acceptable in the different phases of the conflict. Students will craft a longer research paper on one aspect of this war.
PLSC 300B: Arts and Politics
MWF 2:45pm / LSC
This course explores a question: what is the relationship between politics and the arts? This question is important for a few reasons. We can see that the greatest political thinkers, from Plato to Baudrillard, wrote extensively about the arts. To them, the relationship between politics and the arts was so strong that the two were virtually indistinguishable from one another. Politics was art, and art sustained politics. But political philosophy was not the only field that explored the relationship between politics and art. We can see that the greatest artists also imbued their works with political messages. To them, the arts are the best and most truthful means of political reflection. Given the relationship between politics and art, it seems only natural that the two should be explored together: that politics is a form of art or that the arts are forms of politics. In this course, we will read critical works from a panoply of political thinkers from antiquity to the present. We will also study the arts themselves, from literature, visual art, drama, dance and performance art. Students will also have the opportunity to create a final project, which can take the form of either a formal research paper or an artistic project.
PLSC 308: Contemporary Political Thought
Th 4:15pm / LSC
Political philosophy—or rational inquiry into the human good, or the best way of life for human beings—began in Greece two and a half millennia ago. It has a long and distinguished history which includes many of the greatest thinkers of the western tradition. During the past century, however, that tradition seemed to come to an end. Some have argued that political philosophy is dead, or finished. Thus “contemporary political thought” is a problematic notion. To understand why, we will explore the roots of the crisis of western rationalism, as it is sometimes described, in the writings of the last two centuries. Our focus will thus be on what political thought means today, and how it has come to be in its present situation.