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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Political Science (PL SC)

PL SC 111 (GH) Debating the Purpose of Government (3) Students will become acquainted with a variety of political theories and debate their usefulness in considering contemporary political controversies.

PL SC 111 Debating the Purpose of Government (3)
(GH)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.


Although governments must always attend to urgent matters that cannot be put off, government attention is, and perhaps should be, directed as well toward matters that are of fundamental importance. However, there is substantial disagreement about what those matters are. In this course, through brief summarizing readings and through lectures, students will encounter the arguments of various political philosophers making the case that one or another purpose is most essential to government. Among the candidates for the status of primary purpose of government will be civic and moral education, the defense of life and property, the dismantling of the economic foundations of inequality, and the institution of justice in accordance with universal moral principles. The compatibility of the various conceptions of the purpose of government with the experiences and aspirations of women will receive special attention.

After a brief exposure to each perspective, teams of two students each will research and debate the pro’s and con’s of each perspective in light of what it can contribute to our understanding of contemporary political events and controversies (if there are more than twenty- six students enrolled, some time will be taken from lectures to accommodate debates). Each student will take a turn as debater and a turn at researching, composing, and organizing the content of the team’s opening statement. Approximately twenty minutes after each debate will be allocated to questions and comments from students who were not part of either team that day. At the midpoint of the course and after its conclusion, there will be essay exams in which students will be required to demonstrate basic familiarity with summaries of the various political theories and apply those theories to contemporary political controversies.


General Education: GH
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Humanities
Effective: Summer 2012

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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