Approved by Faculty Senate
University Studies Course Approval:
Department Program: Philosophy Department
Number of Credits: 3
Course Title: Philosophy of Democracy
220 - Philosophy of Democracy - 3 S.H.
An introductory course in political philosophy, investigating the nature and implications of liberal democracy. Topics may include: Social-contract theory, notions of natural rights, the moral virtues of democracy, voting paradoxes, limitations of and various critiques of democracy. Offered each year.
This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2.
Department Contact Person for this course: Don Scheid
Unity and DiversityDemocratic Institutions
PHILOSOPHY OF DEMOCRACY
University StudiesDemocratic Institutions
"The purpose of the Democratic Institutions requirement in University Studies is to provide students with a basic understanding of concepts of social justice, the common good, and the legitimate scope of government in democratic and pluralistic society. The requirement should also enhance students' ability to participate in the free exchange of ideas and function as a public-minded citizen."
The course on Philosophy of Democracy involves a philosophical investigation of the basic concepts of social justice and the common good within liberal political theory. The legitimacy of government and its proper scope are considered, as are problems of a pluralistic society for democracy (e.g., Madison's "factions").
a. "understand the principles upon which democratic governments are based;"
The course features a careful analysis of John Locke's theory of liberal government (Second Treatise on Government) and the principles embodied in the Federalist Papers.
b. "understand the problems of democracy and the conditions that favor or disfavor it;"
A good bit of the course is given over to a discussion of anarchism as a challenge to the legitimacy of any form of government and to some classical theories of democracy. In addition, a number of modern criticisms and critiques of democracy and liberalism are covered.
c. "identify, state, and justify value judgments related to democratic institutions;"
The course investigates the basis for majority rule and the idea of constitutional governments, including the idea of bills of rights that protect the individual from the will of the majority.
d. "understand the nature of non-democratic institutions;"
In connection with problems for democratic theory, democracy is contrasted with totalitarian and dictatorial forms of government.
e. "understand the implications of taking responsibility for the consequences of their own actions for democratic institutions;"
Voter apathy is examined, as well as voter paradoxes. More importantly, an exploration of modern attempts to re-invigorate democratic practice with various models of "participatory democracy." is made--e.g., the Citizen Jury model of the Jefferson Center, Minneapolis.
f. "understand the relation of equal rights to democratic institutions; ..."
There is some discussion of group rights versus individual rights within liberal theory in this course..
PHILOSOPHY OF DEMOCRACY
Curriculum, Outcomes, Policies, and Requirements
University StudiesDemocratic Institutions
Prof. Scheid 10:00-10:50 a.m.: M,W,F
Office: 323 Minné Hall 110 Minné Hall
This course may be taken to count for a University Studies course under the category of "Democratic Institutions."
> John Locke, Second Treatise of Government (Hackett Pub.: Indianapolis) 1980.
> Hamilton, Jay, Madison, (Garry Wills, ed.), The Federalist Papers (Bantam Books: NY) 1982.
> Robert Paul Wolff, In Defense of Anarchism (Univ. of Calif. Press: Berkeley) 1998.
> Robert A. Dahl, On Democracy (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press) 1998.
> Paul, Miller, Jr., Paul (eds.), Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press) 2000.
> Some additional materials will be provided in class. (No charge!)
This is a reading/lecture/discussion type of course. The course consists in a close reading of classical and contemporary texts on democracy. Readings and other assignments will be given on a class-by-class basis.
You are expected to do the readings for each class assignment. Do not skim or speed-read. In some cases, you may have to re-read portions at least couple of times. Read all prefaces and footnotes. Always bring the assigned text or reading to class each day.
Brief quizzes will be given throughout the semester on assigned readings. These may be announced quizzes or "pop" quizzes. We will probably average about one quiz every two weeks. If a student misses a quiz, for whatever reason, it is automatically recorded as an "F." However, one quiz (with the lowest grade) will be dropped automatically at the end of the semester. Quizzes are graded summarily ("A," "C," or "F").
Homework exercises will be assigned from time to time. Normally, a good-faith effort on this work will receive an automatic "A" when the work is turned in on time. If homework is turned in late by a week or less, it will receive no better than a "C." Work over one week late does not receive any credit.
Three regular, in-class exams, including the final exam, are required for this course. Exams will cover assigned readings, lectures, and in-class discussions. The final exam may be somewhat cumulative, but the lion's share will be on material that was covered after the previous exam.
Any student who misses an exam must, on his/her initiative, arrange for a make-up exam as soon as possible. Make-up exams will be arranged only for students who have documented, excused absences for the day of the original exam. Make-up exams may be written or oral, at the professor's discretion.
The final grade for the course will be determined approximately as follows.
Three Exams: 20%, 20%, 25%
In addition, as a minimum requirement (necessary condition) for passing the course, the student must pass at least one of the three examinations with a "D" or better.
Manners and Decorum
Obviously, talking and other disturbances are not acceptable in class. Other things I find distracting and/or rude include blowing bubble gum, snapping gum, clipping nails, snapping pens, and crinkling food bags and candy wrappers.
Each student is expected to do his/her own work and only his/her own work on all quizzes and examinations. Collaborating on homework assignments is OK, so long as the final piece of homework is done by the person who turns it in for credit.
In accordance with the policy of the Philosophy Department, the best any student can expect to get out of this course for cheating is an "F."
There are three basic requirements for doing well in virtually all college courses, including this one, namely: regular attendance, on-time completion of reading and writing assignments, and good note taking in class.
Incredibly, the vast majority of students who do poorly in college courses do so, not because of some learning disability or lack of intelligence, but simply because they fail to perform one or more of these basic requirements. Accordingly, to get the most out of this course, my advice is:
Attend class regularly!
Do all reading assignments!
Take good notes!
Students may write an optional paper for this class for a "replacement grade." Under this option, the paper will be graded with a normal letter grade. If it receives lower than a C, the paper effort will simply not count at all. Assuming the paper does receive a C or better, this grade will be used to replace any one exam grade that is lower. For example, if you have a D on an exam and you receive a B on the paper, the B would replace the D when the final grades are added up for the final course grade. This option cannot hurt your grade, and it may help.
The optional paper is intended to be a significant research paper.
> The paper must be a minimum of 6, full, typewritten pages (not counting the cover sheet or title page, or footnote page). There is no maximum length.
> The typing must be in standard 10 or 12 point font, double-spaced (not triple), with one-inch margins all around.
> Pages must be numbered. Do this in longhand if you cannot get the word processor to do it.
> There should be a cover sheet with your name, the date and the course. You may also have a title, if you wish. Everything should be stapled in the upper left corner.
> Since this is essentially a research type of paper, all references must be given full citation. I do not care what citation style you use, but citations must be complete and consistent. All footnotes may be collected on the last page.
> The paper must make use of at least four different basic references or resources. This may include encyclopedia articles, as well as books, journal articles and magazine articles.
Possible topics include:
> report on details of the workings of democracy in ancient Athens.
> history of the development of the British Parliament.
> historical investigation/report on Locke's connection with the slave trade.
> philosophical analysis of aspect of Locke's theory.
> philosophical comparison of Locke's theory with that of Jean Jacques Rousseau.
> constitutional issues concerning the impeachment process of the U.S. President.
> constitutional issues concerning voting and voting rights
If you decide to do a paper, you must check with me about doing the paper and the topic, even if your topic is one of those listed above.
The paper may be turned in at any time during the semester. The final, final deadline for the paper is the last class day of the semester. No papers will be accepted after this date.
* * * * *
Approximate Order of Topics and Readings
1. Introduction to philosophy and political philosophy.
2. Greek democracy.
Pericles' Funeral Oration. (handout).
Xenophon on the Assembly (handout).
Plato's complaints (handout).
3. 17th Cent. England; Filmer's Theory of Divine Right; Locke's criticisms of Filmer.
4. Locke's Second Treatise of Government (selected chapters).
5. Federalist Papers (selected papers).
6. Wolff's In Defense of Anarchism (all).
7. Dahl, On Democracy (all).
8. Various readings from anthology of articles, Democracy.
Statement on University Studies Courses
"University Studies" courses are normally intended to serve either of two main purposes: (i) to develop basic skills (such as logical reasoning, writing, or math skills); (ii) to broaden one's intellectual horizons, introducing a student to new subjects and helping a student explore new disciplines. In neither case are University Studies courses necessarily easy.
You should not expect this course to be easy simply because it is listed as a University Studies course. This course is of about average difficulty for a 200-level (i.e., sophomore-level) college course.
The general guidelines for the designation of "Democratic Institutions" under the University Studies program are as follows:
These outcomes are to be achieved in this course along the following lines. The course on Philosophy of Democracy involves a philosophical investigation of the basic concepts of social justice and the common good within liberal political theory. The legitimacy of government and its proper scope are considered, as are problems of a pluralistic society for democracy (e.g., Madison's "factions").
(a) The course features a careful analysis of John Locke's theory of liberal government (Second Treatise on Government) and the principles embodied in the Federalist Papers.
(b) A good bit of the course is given over to a discussion of anarchism as a challenge to the legitimacy of any form of government and to some classical theories of democracy. In addition, a number of modern criticisms and critiques of democracy and liberalism are covered.
(c) The course investigates the basis for majority rule and the idea of constitutional governments, including the idea of bills of rights that protect the individual from the will of the majority.
(d) In connection with problems for democratic theory, democracy is contrasted with totalitarian and dictatorial forms of government.
(e) Voter apathy is examined, as well as voter paradoxes. More importantly, an exploration of modern attempts to re-invigorate democratic practice with various models of "participatory democracy." is made--e.g., the Citizen Jury model of the Jefferson Center, Minneapolis.
(f) There is some discussion of group rights versus individual rights within liberal theory in this course..