The Moral Foundations of Politics

About the Course

This course explores main answers to the question, "When do governments deserve our allegiance?" It starts with a survey of major political theories of the Enlightenment—Utilitarianism, Marxism, and the social contract tradition—through classical formulations, historical context, and contemporary debates relating to politics today. It then turns to the rejection of Enlightenment political thinking. Lastly, it deals with the nature of, and justifications for, democratic politics, and their relations to Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking. Practical implications of these arguments are covered through discussion of a variety of concrete problems.

View class sessions »

Course Structure

This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.

The Open Yale Courses Series

For more information about Professor Shapiro’s book The Moral Foundations of Politics, click here.

Course Materials

Download all course pages [zip - 10MB]

Video and audio elements from this course are also available on:

About Professor Ian Shapiro

Ian Shapiro is Sterling Professor of Political Science and Henry R. Luce Director of the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University. A native of South Africa, he received his J.D. and Ph.D. from Yale, where he has taught since 1984. His most recent books are The Flight From Reality in the Human SciencesDeath by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight Over Taxing Inherited Wealth (with Michael Graetz); and Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror. His current research concerns the relations between democracy and the distribution of income and wealth.

Share This Course:

Syllabus

Professor

Ian Shapiro, Sterling Professor of Political Science

Description

This course explores main answers to the question, "When do governments deserve our allegiance?" It starts with a survey of major political theories of the Enlightenment—Utilitarianism, Marxism, and the social contract tradition—through classical formulations, historical context, and contemporary debates relating to politics today. It then turns to the rejection of Enlightenment political thinking. Lastly, it deals with the nature of, and justifications for, democratic politics, and their relations to Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking. Practical implications of these arguments are covered through discussion of a variety of concrete problems.

Texts

Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem. New York: Viking, 1963.

Bromwich, David. "Introduction" to On Empire, Liberty, and Reform: Speeches and Letters. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Burke, Edmund. Reflections on the Revolution in France. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Hamilton, Alexander, John Jay, and James Madison. The Federalist Papers. Ed. Ian Shapiro. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.

Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government and a Letter Concerning Human Understanding. Ed. Ian Shapiro. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988.

MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007.

Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. Ed. David Bromwich and George Kateb. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State and Utopia. New York: Basic Books, 1974.

Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. 2nd edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Shapiro, Ian. Democratic Justice. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.

Shapiro, Ian. Moral Foundations of Politics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

Tucker, Robert C., ed. The Marx-Engels Reader. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1978.

Requirements

Students take one midterm exam following Lecture 15, and a final examination. Students are also expected to attend weekly discussion sections. Writing-intensive students complete two papers instead of a midterm exam.

Grading

Midterm exam: 35%
Final exam: 55%
Participation in discussion section: 10%

Survey

Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts about this course through the survey linked below. We also invite you to provide general feedback about Open Yale Courses by visiting the Feedback area of the site.

Take the survey

Join a Study Group

Through a pilot arrangement with Open Yale Courses, OpenStudy offers tools to participate in online study groups for a selection of Open Yale Courses, including PLSC 118. If you wish to participate in one of these study groups, you will need to register for a free account with OpenStudy.

View study group

OpenStudy is not affiliated with Yale University. For more information regarding Open Yale Courses linking policy, please consult the Terms of Use.

Course Books and Other Related Titles

Yale University Press offers a 10% discount on the books used in PLSC 118 that it publishes, as well as on other related titles. A portion of the proceeds from your purchases will be donated for the ongoing support and development of the Open Yale Courses program.

View the catalog for this course