Seminar: PS 206:
Introduction to Political Thought
Oregon State University, Political Science

This course is an introduction to some of the big questions in political theory. Why have a state? Is there an obligation to obey the law? What kind of state do we want? What is democracy, and is it better than other systems? What do we want the state to do, and not do? What is the proper role of the state in relation to the economy? Should the state regulate the market? Redistribute wealth? What is the relation between individual rights and majority rule? What rights do individuals have? And what is the relation between the state (and the nation that it represents) and the globe? That is, what is that moral status of national boundaries, and do we have moral obligations to those beyond our borders? Is there any such thing as global justice, and if so, what does it entail? We explore these questions through reading and discussing both historical and contemporary works in political theory.

As a remote course, the class will meet once a week on Zoom for an hour and fifty minutes, and will involve a substantial amount of independent and online work. We will use the lectures and other materials provided by Michael Sandel of Harvard University, whose course on justice is very popular among Harvard students (900 sign up for it each year) and is now world-renowned because is became the subject of a series on PBS.

Seminar Information:

Seminar Teaching History:

  • OSU, Spring 2020 (remote)

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