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Online Learning

Course Number: PHL 712
Course Title: Political Philosophy
Term: Fall 2014

Professor

Dr. Donald Demarco,

Email: mddemarco@rogers.com

1. Course Description

This course involves the study of the basic concepts of political philosophy from a Thomistic point of view. Topics to be studied include the nature and purpose of political association; the origin of obligation; the nature of power and authority; the relationship of law and liberty; the role of property; and the nature of justice, political equality, and human rights; the relation of Church and state; and the moral political dimensions of war and international relations.

This course is intended to be manageable for the student, as well as interesting and profitable. The course consists of 6 areas of discussion and 12 questions that relate to these areas. The twelve questions constitute the syllabus. It is expected that the student will read enough from the sources mentioned in order to get a good sense of the nature and importance of the issues presented, both philosophically and historically.

2. Envisioned Learning Outcomes

  • It is hoped that the student will gain an understanding of the various philosophies that undergird different forms of government and to be able to evaluate these philosophies in relation to the nature of the human being. It is also hoped that the student will become familiar with the works of a number of important political philosophers.

3. Course Assignments

Three Papers

For the outside assignments, the student will select any three of the “12 Questions” and write 3 papers, each between 7-9 pages in length (double-space, font 12, rectified margins). There is no final exam in this course. The papers should be emailed to me roughly 4 1/2 weeks apart from each other, beginning at or around the 6th week of the course. Each question represents a clash between incompatible ideas. In each case, two (or more) thinkers are involved who are at the center of the clash. The student may enlist the thought of other appropriate philosophers, but it is required that at least two of those who are mentioned be given centrality.

Weekly Statements

In addition to your three essays, and in the interest of establishing a learning community, we ask you to share the fruits of your reading and research with others in the class.  In this way, the class becomes more interactive and each student stands to benefit through a kind of cross-fertilization of ideas from the various ideas posted by all your colleagues.  Your weekly report, posted on the discussion board, may be as brief as a single short paragraph.  These reports consist of 6 original statements and 6 responses to any of the statements posted.  Your 12 statements altogether should be posted on a weekly basis.

The following questions provide a springboard for your statements:

  1. What is the relationship between democracy and virtue?
  1. Is moral virtue optional?
  2. Is moral virtue necessary?
  3. Is intellectual virtue more important than moral virtue?
  1.  What is the relationship between education and democracy?
  1. Can education be based on a relativistic philosophy?
  2. Can a healthy skepticism be of value?
  3. How does education help to harmonize liberty and equality?
  1. What is the role, in a good society, of:
  1. Truth?
  2. Justice?
  3. Goodness?

4. Course Schedule

As the student moves through the course, the following notions—corresponding to 12 of the 15 weeks—may be profitably explored: assisting you in the development of your three papers as well as assisting you in your weekly postings. You are not required to respond to any of these notions specifically. They are intended to help you en route.

Week 1: The Notion of Democracy

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 1 and 2:

Questions:

1. Is Democracy grounded in fixed values or simply in the will of the people?

  • Jean Jacques Rousseau vs. Orestes Brownson and/or Alexis de Tocqueville

2. Is man a social being by nature?

  • Aristotle vs. Thomas Hobbes

Week 2: The Notion of Democracy continued

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 1 and 2:

Questions:

1. Is Democracy grounded in fixed values or simply in the will of the people?

  • Jean Jacques Rousseau vs. Orestes Brownson and/or Alexis de Tocqueville

2. Is man a social being by nature?

  • Aristotle vs. Thomas Hobbes

Week 3: The Notion of Socialism

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 3 and 4:

Questions:

3. Does Social Darwinism Have a Basis in Nature?

  • Herbert Spencer vs. Plato

4. Is man or the state supreme?

  • Jacques Maritain (Man and the State) vs. Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels

Week 4: The Notion of Socialism continued

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 3 and 4:

Questions:

3. Does Social Darwinism Have a Basis in Nature?

  • Herbert Spencer vs. Plato

4. Is man or the state supreme?

  • Jacques Maritain (Man and the State) vs. Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels

Week 5: The Political Situation in America: 1st Paper Due

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 5 and 6:

Questions

5. Is it possible to reconcile the clash between secularism and the Judeo-Christian tradition?

  • Robert George vs. Machiavelli

6. Is marriage still the basic unity of society?

  • Instructions for the writing assignment

The student will select any three of the 12 questions listed below and write 3 papers, each between 7-9 pages in length (double-space, font 12, rectified margins). There is no final exam in this course. The papers should be emailed to me roughly 4 1/2 weeks apart from each other, beginning at or around the 6th week of the course. Each question represents a clash between incompatible ideas. In each case, two (or more) thinkers are involved who are at the center of the clash. The student may enlist the thought of other appropriate philosophers, but it is required that at least two of those who are mentioned be given centrality.

12 Questions

  1. Is Democracy grounded in fixed values or simply in the will of the people?
  2. Is man a social being by nature?
  3. Does Social Darwinism Have a Basis in Nature?
  4. Is man or the state supreme?
  5. Is it possible to reconcile the clash between secularism and the Judeo-Christian tradition?
  6. Is marriage still the basic unity of society?
  7. Is there a difference between culture and civilization?
  8. What (or who) is at the Center of Society?
  9. Are Human Rights Grounded in Nature or in Political Fiat?
  10. Is Society Composed of Individuals or Persons?
  11. Should Law Legislate Morality?
  12. Does Religion Have An Essential Place in Political Society?

Week 6: The Political Situation in America continued

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 5 and 6:

Questions

5. Is it possible to reconcile the clash between secularism and the Judeo-Christian tradition?

  • Robert George vs. Machiavelli

6. Is marriage still the basic unity of society?

Week 7: The Role of Culture in Political Society

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 7 and 8:

Questions

7. Is there a difference between culture and civilization?

  • Sigmund Freud vs. Edmund Burke

8. What (or who) is at the Center of Society?

  • Jacques Maritain, Man and the State; Scholasticism and Politics vs. Thomas Hobbes

Week 8: The Role of Culture in Political Society continued

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 7 and 8:

Questions

7. Is there a difference between culture and civilization?

  • Sigmund Freud vs. Edmund Burke

8. What (or who) is at the Center of Society?

  • Jacques Maritain, Man and the StateScholasticism and Politics vs. Thomas Hobbes

Week 9: The Notion of Civil Rights in Society: 2nd Paper Due

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 9 and 10:

  • Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, I-II, “Treatise on Law,” Questions 90-100.
  • Karl Marx. Das Kapital.
  • Mary Ann Glendon. Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse. ISBN-10: 0029118239 or ISBN-13: 978-0029118238 List price $15.54
  • John Lo>Two Treatises on Government.
  • Several pages of the Syllabus

Questions

9. Are Human Rights Grounded in Nature or in Political Fiat?

  • Thomas Aquinas vs. the Marxists

10. Is Society Composed of Individuals or Persons?

  • Mary Ann Glendon vs. John Locke

Instructions for the writing assignment:

The student will select any three of the 12 questions listed below and write 3 papers, each between 7-9 pages in length (double-space, font 12, rectified margins). There is no final exam in this course. The papers should be emailed to me roughly 4 1/2 weeks apart from each other, beginning at or around the 6th week of the course. Each question represents a clash between incompatible ideas. In each case, two (or more) thinkers are involved who are at the center of the clash. The student may enlist the thought of other appropriate philosophers, but it is required that at least two of those who are mentioned be given centrality.

12 Questions

  1. Is Democracy grounded in fixed values or simply in the will of the people?
  2. Is man a social being by nature?
  3. Does Social Darwinism Have a Basis in Nature?
  4. Is man or the state supreme?
  5. Is it possible to reconcile the clash between secularism and the Judeo-Christian tradition?
  6. Is marriage still the basic unity of society?
  7. Is there a difference between culture and civilization?
  8. What (or who) is at the Center of Society?
  9. Are Human Rights Grounded in Nature or in Political Fiat?
  10. Is Society Composed of Individuals or Persons?
  11. Should Law Legislate Morality?
  12. Does Religion Have An Essential Place in Political Society?

Week 10: The Notion of Civil Rights in Society continued

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 9 and 10:

  • Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, I-II, “Treatise on Law,” Questions 90-100.
  • Karl Marx. Das Kapital.
  • Mary Ann Glendon. Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse. ISBN-10: 0029118239 or ISBN-13: 978-0029118238 List price $15.54
  • John Lo>Two Treatises on Government.
  • Several pages of the Syllabus

Questions

9. Are Human Rights Grounded in Nature or in Political Fiat?

  • Thomas Aquinas vs. the Marxists

10. Is Society Composed of Individuals or Persons?

  • Mary Ann Glendon vs. John Locke

Week 11: What is the Place of Morality in Politics?

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 11 and 12:

  • George Will. Statecraft as Soulcraft. ISBN-10: 0671427342 or ISBN-13: 978-0671427344 List price $14.95.
  • Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan.
  • Charles Chaput. Render Unto Caesar. ISBN-10: 0385522290 List price $11.20
  • St. Augustine. The City of God
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto
  • Lenin. Lenin Internet Archive.
  • Several pages of the Syllabus.

Questions

11. Should Law Legislate Morality?

  • George Will vs. Thomas Hobbes

12. Does Religion Have An Essential Place in Political Society?

  • Charles Chaput, St. Augustine vs. Marx, Engels, Lenin

Week 12: What is the Place of Morality in Politics? Continued

Post weekly report

Suggested readings to answer questions 11 and 12:

  • George Will. Statecraft as Soulcraft. ISBN-10: 0671427342 or ISBN-13: 978-0671427344 List price $14.95.
  • Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan.
  • Charles Chaput. Render Unto Caesar. ISBN-10: 0385522290 List price $11.20
  • St. Augustine. The City of God
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto
  • Lenin. Lenin Internet Archive.
  • Several pages of the Syllabus.

Questions

11. Should Law Legislate Morality?

  • George Will vs. Thomas Hobbes

12. Does Religion Have An Essential Place in Political Society?

  • Charles Chaput, St. Augustine vs. Marx, Engels, Lenin

Week 13

Work on writing assignment.

Week 14

Work on writing assignment due next week.

Week 15

Writing assignment due.

5. Course Reading Materials

  • The student should not be intimidated by the bibliography. Most of the works cited are readily available, either online or in a decent library. The student should read enough from the various sources (by no means all of the sources, or all of even one source) in order to get a firm grasp and appreciation for the issues clash of ideas that are involved.
  • The books associated with the various thinkers listed below are found in the bibliography located at the bottom of this document.
  • I have appended some articles that touch upon the aforementioned questions. It is hoped that they prove to be helpful, stimulating, and profitable.

6. Course Bibliography

The primary sources for this course are the works of a number of political philosophers and thinkers whose writings have had and continue to have a decisive influence on politics and the organization of society. These sources represent ideas that are essential to the ongoing discussion concerning philosophy and politics.

  • Plato. The Republic Free at this link thanks to Project Gutenberg
  • Aristotle. Politics Free at this link thanks to Project Gutenberg
  • St. Augustine. The City of God Free at this link thanks to Christian Classics Ethereal Library
  • St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, I-II, “Treatise on Law,” Questions 90-100. Free at this link thanks to New Advent
  • Machiavelli. The Prince Free at this link thanks to Project Gutenberg
  • Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan Free at this link thanks to Project Gutenberg -
  • John Locke. Two Treatises on Government Free at this link thanks to Project Gutenberg 
  • Jean Jacques Rousseau. The Social Contract Free at this link thanks to Constitution.org 
  • Edmund Burke. Reflections on the French Revolution in France Free at this link thanks to Constitution.org
  • Herbert Spencer. Social Statics Free at this link thanks to the Liberty Fund
  • Karl Marx. Das Kapital Free at this link thanks to the Marxists Internet Archive.
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto Free at this link thanks to Project Gutenberg
  • Sigmund Freud. Civilization and its Discontents ISBN-10: 1453833897 or ISBN-13: 978- 1453833896 List price $6.97
  • Alexis de Tocqueville. Democracy in America Free at this link thanks to Project Gutenberg - Volume 1
  • Orestes Brownson. Catholicity and Political Liberty Free at this link thanks to the Orestes Brownson society
  • Jacques Maritain, Man and the State Free at this link thanks to Panarchy.org
  • Jacques Maritain The Things That Are Not Caesar’s ASIN: B000ZQ57TI List price $12.64 used only
  • Jacques Maritain. Scholasticism and Politics Free at this link thanks to Questia.com
  • George Will. Statecraft as Soulcraft ISBN-10: 0671427342 or ISBN-13: 978-0671427344 List price $14.95
  • Charles J. Chaput. Render Unto Caesar ISBN-10: 0385522290 List price $11.20
  • Robert George. The Clash of Orthodoxies Free at this link; permission granted to reproduce for educational use by First Things.
  • Mary Ann Glendon. Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse ISBN-10: 0029118239 or ISBN-13: 978-0029118238 List price $15.54

7. EVALUATION

Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl).

GRADING SCALE:

A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 60-69; F 59 and below

8. DISABILITIES ACCOMMODATIONS POLICY

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at rmish@holyapostles.edu or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.

9. ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY

Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl/resources).

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.

10. ATTENDANCE POLICY

Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.

11. INCOMPLETE POLICY

An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.

12. ABOUT YOUR PROFESSOR

Donald DeMarco is a Senior Fellow of Human Life International. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut, and a regular columnist for St. Austin Review. Some of his recent writings may be found at Human Life International's Truth & Charity Forum.

(860) 632-3010