Current Courses

FALL2014

POLS0920 Bleeding Heart Libertarianism
Tomasi

What is libertarianism?  In what sense can libertarians claim to combine the best of the “right” with the best of the “left?” Why do libertarians emphasize private property? Why are they skeptical of political agency? Are libertarians anti-democratic? Can they care about social justice? How do libertarians approach problems such as racism, sexism, militarism, state surveillance, global inequality, and environmental sustainability? This course will consider such questions from a variety of texts in the libertarian tradition, contemporary and classical.  There are no prerequisites.

 

POLS1150 Prosperity: The Ethics and Economics of Wealth
Tomasi, D'Amico

10,000 years ago, everyone everywhere was dirt poor. 500 years ago, the world hadn't much changed. Today is a totally different story. Why are so many people now so prosperous?  Why have some societies grown so rich in such a short period of time, while others remain poor? Can prosperity be replicated in the under-developed world?  How do societies that foster growth, structure the distribution of wealth therein? What are some of the ethical issues that arise from market economies relative to other systems? How do market economies relate to various ethical standards of justice such as poverty, equality, fairness, power relations and environmental quality? 

This course is an interdisciplinary study of what makes societies fair, free, and prosperous.  We will evaluate the institutions of market economies using the tools of ethics, political philosophy, economics, history, and political science.  We will investigate issues concerning the nature of human rationality, trade, property rights, prices, the division of labor, interventionism, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. We will critically look at the major alternative systems of economic organization applied amidst the twentieth century: socialism and capitalism. Lastly, we will survey the potentials and limitations for promoting economic development in poverty stricken environments around the globe today. 

 

POLS1160 Constitutional Law: Governmental Powers
Calabresi

This course examines governmental powers under the United States Constitution, addressing the powers of Congress, the President, and the courts, as well as the relationship between the national and state governments. The primary reading materials will be leading Supreme Court cases, supplemented by additional reading materials on history and legal theory. The course will consider the role of the courts in enforcing constitutional principles in a democratic system, as well as theories of constitutional interpretation and constitutional change. 

 

SPRING 2014

POLS2170 Market-Liberalism: Origins, Principles and Contemporary Applications, Tomasi

This course explores the relationship between economic freedom and social justice. The economic liberties of capitalism have often been said to be in tension with the moral ideal of distributive justice.  What are the economic liberties of capitalism and what moral value, if any, do they have?  What does a commitment to social justice require?  Why are libertairans traditionally skepitcal of social justice as a moral ideal?  How do liberal conceptions of social justice compare to socialist ones?  Can capitalists care about social justice? Should they?

 

POLS1045 American Political Thought, Bandoch

This course will explore key themes that have (re)defined life int his country since its beginning, such as liberty, democracy, religion, and race.  We will read core documents like the Declaration of Independence, along with important works by thinkers like John Winthrop, the Founding Fathers, Tocqueville, Lincoln, and more recent authors like Robert Dahl.  Our goal is to understand what they thought the American enterprise was and should be.  Can the country meet their expectations?  This course assumes a basic familiarity with American government and history, that is, with important dates and events, as well as certain concepts and institutions.

 

Are there Universal Political Values? Bandoch

Are there universal political values? If there are, then there is one standard of goodness or rightness that applies everywhere.  Or, are political values local or relativistic?  If so, then there are different standards of justice and rightness, and so attempting to evaluate them all is simply hubris.  Or might there be a spectrum with opinions somewhere between these two?  This course examines whther such universal values exist and how to evaluate such values int he context of particular societies that change over time.  We will read a number of texts on issues relatiing to liberalism, relativism, multiculturalism, and pluralism.  We will pay special attention to Montesquieu, whose insights raise fascinating questions on these themes.  Throughout the course we will inform our discussions with contemporary issues.

 

FALL 2013

 

POLS1160 Constitutional Law: Governmental Powers, Calabresi

An introduction to constitutional law of other
countries and a comparison of their constitutional law to U.S. constitutional
law. We will read court cases and other materials from most of the G-20
countries including: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, India, Canada,
Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, the European Court of Human Rights,
and the United States. Topics include: constitutionalism, judicial review,
separation of powers, federalism, free speech law, freedom of religion,
criminal procedure, rights to property or welfare, rights of privacy and human
dignity, judicial policing of the political process, states of emergency, and
constitutional amendment processes. Enrollment limited to 20 junior and senior
concentrators in Political Science. WRIT

 

Syllabus 

POLS1150 Prosperity: The Ethics and Economics of Wealth Creation, Tomasi, Bandoch, Lemke, Tahtinen

What is prosperity? Whom does prosperity benefit? Which institutions and attitudes produce prosperity? What is the relation of prosperity to other values such as efficiency, happiness, equality, fairness, religious faith or personal freedom? This course explores the problem of prosperity from a variety of disciplinary perspectives: philosophical, economic, historical, religious, and literary. 

 

POLS0820 Freedom, Tomasi

What is freedom? Is it important? How do we know? What should we do about it? We will analyze the different conceptions of liberty - liberal egalitarian, classical liberal, Marxist, and fascist views. We will determine how the various aspects of freedom - political, personal, psychological, economic, and moral - are complementary, and determine what sorts of institutions promote or undermine these aspects.  

 

POLS1823L  Human Rights: For and Against, Tahtinen

Should, or do, human rights exist? If so, have they always existed? If not, where did they come from? We will search for historical and philosophical answers to these questions. Natural law and rights were invoked in the aftermath of the Conquest of the Americas, in the American, French and Haitian Revolutions, and in the founding of the United Nations. Yet, inalienable rights have not only had friends but also foes such as Jeremy Bentham or Karl Marx. We will examine how contemporary proponents and critics of human rights view their value and impact on domestic and international politics. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors. WRIT

 

SPRING 2013

POLS2170 Market-Liberalism: Origins, Principles and Contemporary Applications, Tomasi

This course explores the relationship between economic freedom and social justice. The economic liberties of capitalism have often been said to be in tension with the moral ideal of distributive justice. What are the economic liberties of capitalism and what moral value, if any, do they have? What does a commitment to social justice require? Why are libertarians traditionally skeptical of social justice as a moral ideal? How do liberal conceptions of social justice compare to socialist ones? Can capitalists care about social justice? Should they? 

HIST 1977Z Globalization: An Idea Through History, Tahtinen

 It is impossible to not run into global problems or challenges. What does it mean for an issue to be global, or to think globally? What is globalization, how did it develop? How global were past societies. How global are we? This course provides a history of globalization and an introduction to a selection of globalizing moments in history as well as the modes of thinking that have contributed to contemporary global consciousness. Reaching far beyond the globalization debate of recent decades, it seeks to uncover historical greats, who were often thinking locally, but whose impact has been felt globally. 

FALL 2012

POLS1150 Prosperity: The Ethics and Economics of Wealth Creation

What is prosperity? Whom does prosperity benefit? Which institutions and attitudes produce prosperity? What is the relation of prosperity to other values such as efficiency, happiness, equality, fairness, religious faith or personal freedom? This course explores the problem of prosperity from a variety of disciplinary perspectives: philosophical, economic, historical, religious, and literary. 

POLS1823 Constitutional Theory, Calabresi

Will introduce the key theories that have been put forward in the last 100 years in Constitutional interpratation and how the Supreme Court exercises the power of judicial review. We will read and study key works by famous constitutional theorists of the past like James Bradley Thayer, Alexander Bickel, Charles Black, and John Hart Elly as well as reading the works of contemporary theorists such as Ronald Dworkin, Richard Posner, Robert H. Bork Antonin Scalia, Richard Fallon, Larry Kramer, and Jack Balkin. 

POLS1822 Defenses of Capitalism, McCaskey

The moral justification for laissez-faire capitalism accepted in late 18th Century came under attack in the 19th. This course examines four schools of thought that arose to defend capitalism: schols of free-market economists; Protestants and Catholics; Ayn Rand followers; and libertarians. This course illustrates that the differences between these schools are as charged and fundamental as any between capitalism and its critics.  Primary sources (including Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged") will provide the bulk of the reading. The course will conclude with an application of the rival theories to a few current public policy issues.

POLS0820 Freedom, Bandoch

What is freedom? Is it important? How do we know? What should we do about it? We will analyze the different conceptions of liberty - liberal egalitarian, classical liberal, Marxist, and fascist views. We will determine how the various aspects of freedom - political, personal, psychological, economic, and moral - are complementary, and determine what sorts of institutions promote or undermine these aspects.  

POLS0110 Introduction to Political Thought, Tomasi

What is justice? What is freedom? What is the basis of political authority? What is the nature of the best regime? Why should we obey the laws? When may we legitimately resist? These and other perennial questions of political life are explored. Readings includes Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and J.S. Mill.  

POLS 1160 Constitutional Law: Governmental Powers, Calabresi

This course examines governmental powers under the United States Constitution, addressing the powers of Congress, the President, and the courts, as well as the relationship between the national and state governments. The primary reading materials will be leading Supreme Court cases, supplemented by additional reading materials on history and legal theory. The course will consider the role of the courts in enforcing constitutional principles in a democratic system, as well as theories of constitutional interpretation and constitutional change. 

Syllabus

 

SPRING 2012

POLS1820 Market Liberalism: Origins, Principles, and Contemporary Applications, Tomasi

What is liberalism? What are the differences between capitalist, democratic, and socialist versions of liberalism? Is it true that liberal theory has undergone a form of moral evolution between its "classical" and its "modern" forms? Are there common moral values that all liberals - capitalist, democratic, and socialist - affirm? If so, by what dimensions of value are these rival liberal traditions to be distinguished? 

POLS 0110 Introduction to Political Thought, Gourevitch

What is justice? What is freedom? What is the basis of political authority? What is the nature of the best regime? Why should we obey the laws? When may we legitimately resist? These and other perennial questions of political life are explored. Readings include Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and J.S. Mill.

HIST 1977  U.S. Legal and Business History: Regulating the Marketplace, Phillips

A seminar surveying the history of American business and capitalism from the colonial era through the 20th Century, with special attention to how legal regimes and regulatory institutions emerged to confront specific market problems and, in turn, influenced the distribution of wealth and power throughout American history.

 

POLS 2370 Political Philosophy and Economic Theory, Gourevitch

Political Philosophy relates to economic theory in two ways. It takes primary texts of economic theory and draws out their philosophical, eithical, and political implications. It also begins from normative theory, like theories of justice, and brings these independently developed principles to bear on economic concerns. This class takes both approaches. The first half will attempt to read foundational economic thinkers (e.g. Jevons, KEynes, Schumpeter, Hayek, Polanyl) as political philosophers. The second half will take an external approach, looking at how competing libertarian, socialist, post-socialist, classical liberal, and high liberal traditions (e.g., Smith, Friedman, Rawls, Cohen, Tomasi) think about economic freedom.

 

 

FALL 2011

POLS1150 Prosperity : The Ethics and Economics of Wealth Creation, Tomasi

What is prosperity? Whom does prosperity benefit? Which institutions and attitudes produce prosperity? What is the relation of prosperity to other values such as efficiency, happiness, equality, fairness, religious faith, or personal freedom? This course explores the problem of prosperity from a variety of disciplinary perspectives: philosophical, economic, historical, religious, and literary.

Syllabus

POLS 1160Constitutional Law: Governmental Powers, Calabresi

This course examines governmental powers under the United States Constitution, addressing the powers of Congress, the President, and the courts, as well as the relationship between the national and state governments. The primary reading materials will be leading Supreme Court cases, supplemented by additional reading materials on history and legal theory. The course will consider the role of the courts in enforcing constitutional principles in a democratic system, as well as theories of constitutional interpretation and constitutional change. 

Syllabus

POLS 1822  Comparative Constitutional Law, Calabresi

An introduction to the constitutional law of other countries and a comparison of their constitutional law to U.S. constitutional law. We will read court cases and other materials from: Germany, South Africa, France, India, Britain, Japan, Canada, Australia, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, New Zealand, Italy, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Philippines, Ukraine, South Korea, Ireland, Poland, Latvia, Ceylon, Jamaica, Zambia, and Singapore. Topics include: judicial review, separation of powers, federalism, free speech law, freedom of religion, criminal procedure, rights to property or welfare, rights of privacy and human dignity, judicial policing of the political process, states of emergency, and constitutional amendment processes. Enrollment limited to 20 junior and senior concentrators in Political Science. 

Syllabus

POLS 0820D Freedom, Hidalgo

What is freedom? Is it important? How do we know? What should we do about it? We will analyze the different conceptions of liberty - liberal egalitarian, classical liberal, Marxist, and fascist views. We will determine how the various aspects of freedom - political, personal, psychological, economic, and moral - are complementary, and determine what sorts of institutions promote or undermine these aspects.

 

POLS 1821C Economic Freedom and Social Justice, Tomasi

Can capitalists care about social justice? This course considers the proposition that capitalists can, and should. Readings include a variety of classical and contemporary sources about the idea of economic freedom and its relationship to social justice.

 

SPRING 2011

POLS 1822 L Comparative Constitutional Law, Calabresi

This course is an introduction to the constitutional law of other countries and a comparison of their constitutional law to U.S. constitutional law. We will read court cases and other materials from: Germany, South Africa, France, India, Britain, Japan, Canada, Australia, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, New Zealand, Italy, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Philippines, Ukraine, South Korea, Ireland, Poland, Latvia, Ceylon, Jamaica, Zambia, and Singapore. Weekly topics include: judicial review, separation of powers, federalism, free speech law, freedom of religion, criminal procedure, rights to property or welfare, rights of privacy and human dignity, judicial policing of the political process, states of emergency, and constitutional amendment processes. No prerequisites.”

Syllabus

POLS1150 Prosperity and Poverty: The History, Ethics and Economics of the Wealth of Nations, English and Wilder

What is prosperity? Whom does prosperity benefit? Which institutions and attitudes produce prosperity? What is the relation of prosperity to other values such as efficiency, happiness, equality, fairness, religious faith, or personal freedom? This course explores the problem of prosperity from a variety of disciplinary perspectives: philosophical, economic, historical, religious, and literary.

POLS1822 Capitalism: For and Against, Weiner

Is capitalism just, or is it exploitive? Does the value we place on freedom create a negative right to own property free from interference, or a positive right to a certain level of subsistance? Does capitalism ennoble culture, or debase it? Does it empower individuals, or alienate them? To what extent, if any, can capitalism's downsides be mitigated through redistributive schemes? This course will examine these questions through study of some of the seminal philosophical arguments for and against capitalism, from its origins to the present day. 

PHIL 500 Moral Philosophy, Brennan

This is an advanced introduction to three branches of philosophical ethics: moral theory, metaethics, and applied ethics.

Moral theory asks: What makes actions right or wrong? How much of morality is about restraint, and how much about aspiration? What makes something a moral norm or value as opposed to an aesthetic, legal, or prudential one? Is morality the result of God’s commands, or our society’s, or are there good, non-arbitrary reasons for acting some ways and refraining from other? What makes a character trait virtuous or vicious? Is it in my self-interest to do the right thing (all the time, in general, ever?), and if not, does that mean I don’t have any reason to do it? What makes someone the kind of being who has the obligation to act morally, and what makes something the kind of thing to which we have obligations?

Metaethics asks: Is moral knowledge possible, and if so, how? Are there moral facts, and if so, what kind of facts are they? Is a commitment to moral objectivity compatible with a scientific, naturalistic worldview? Is saying, “That’s wrong” describing something, evaluating it, trying to change behavior, expressing an attitude, or something else? Can moral statements be true, and if so, what makes them true?

Applied ethics tries to solve more specific moral problems, such as whether abortion is ever permissible, or trying to determine to what extant we should spend our lives and money helping the poor. 

FALL 2010

POLS 0820D Freedom, English

What is freedom? Is it important? How do we know? What should we do about it? We will analyze the different conceptions of liberty - liberal egalitarian, classical liberal, Marxist, and fascist views. We will determine how the various aspects of freedom - political, personal, psychological, economic, and moral - are complementary, and determine what sorts of institutions promote or undermine these aspects.

POLS 1010 Topics in American Constitutional Law, Calabresi

The year 2008 marked the 140th anniversary of the United States Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment, which, among many other things, extended national citizenship to newly-freed slaves and embodied the twin promises of equality and liberty for all (or at least for many). This course in Constitutional Law will consider what "equality" and "liberty" have come to mean since the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868. To that end, we will look closely at the way in which the Supreme Court's equality (equal protection) and liberty (due process) jurisprudence has evolved over the past 140 years, paying close attention to equal protection cases dealing with race, gender, disability, and sexual orientation, and to due process cases dealing with abortion, marriage, sexuality, and the family. Readings will include a Constitutional Law casebook and some additional supplemental materials.

POLS 1821H  Authority and Legitimacy, Weiner

What gives people in power the right to make and enforce laws? The course examines classic and contemporary conceptions of political authority and legitimacy. What is authority and when is it legitimate? Does legitimate authority depend on the consent of citizens, or on the justice of decisions? Can the people hold ultimate authority over the law, or is this merely empty rhetoric? Authors include Hobbes, Rousseau, Weber, Schmitt, Arendt, Althusser, Wolff, Nozick, and Habermas. 

HIST 1976 The Emergence of Capitalism in Early Modern Europe, Wilder

Students will read and consider how, when and why capitalism emerged and rose to dominance in European and other societies, especially in the 16th through 18th centuries. Theories considered will include evolution/innateness, culture, societal development, colonialism, empire and institutional efficiency. Readings include Smith, Marx, Weber, Pirenne, Wallerstein, Brenner, Hirschman, North and Thomas, de Vries and Arrighi. We will put these accounts into dialogue with one another, assessing their assumptions, persuasiveness and failings. Based on these readings, the goal will be for each student to come to a reasoned judgment as to why and how capitalism emerged. Enrollment limited to 20. Not open to first-year students.

POLS 1821C Economic Freedom and Social Justice, Tomasi

Can capitalists care about social justice? This course considers the proposition that capitalists can, and should. Readings include a variety of classical and contemporary sources about the idea of economic freedom and its relationship to social justice.

PHIL 1280 History of Moral Philosophy, Brennan

We will examine some of the most important British moralists of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, focusing on their views of the foundations of morality. We will explore, in particular, their positions on the relationship between self-interest and morality, on the roles that reason and sentiment play in moral judgment, and on the relationship between human nature and morality (including political justice). We will focus on Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill, but will also examine the work of more minor figures, such as Cudworth, Butler, Hutcheson, and Clarke.