Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

 

Department Program: Philosophy Department

Course Number: 335

Number of Credits: 3

Course Title: Constitutional Philosophy

Catalog Description:

335 - Constitutional Philosophy - 3 S.H.

At the crossroads of political philosophy and philosophy of law, this course investigates the philosophical foundations of the American constitution and contemporary philosophical issues arising from its enforcement in a liberal democracy. Topics may include: Natural law theory, the separations of powers, theories of constitutional interpretation, theories of free speech, privacy doctrine, equal protection, affirmative action, criminal due process, and the constitution’s relation to American society. Offered as appropriate.

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2.

 

Department Contact Person for this course: Don Scheid

 

Email: descheid@winona.edu

 

Unity and Diversity—Democratic Institutions

 

 

 

CONSTITUTIONAL PHILOSOPHY

PHIL. 335

University Studies—Democratic Institutions

 

 

Democratic 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, Constitutional Philosophy, investigates the philosophical foundations of the American Constitution and contemporary issues arising out of constitutional law. The main topics addressed are natural-law theory, theories of constitutional interpretation, theories of free speech, church-state relations, privacy doctrine, equal protection and affirmative action, and the Constitution's relation to American society.

 

"a. understand the principles upon which democratic governments are based;"

The course begins with a consideration of the idea of "constitutionalism," a multifaceted idea that includes the concepts of the rule of law, the separation of powers, state and federal spheres of authority, individual rights, and limited government.

 

"b. understand the problems of democracy and the conditions that favor or disfavor it;"

Naturally, many of the problems of a democratic and multicultural society are taken up in this course in looking at issues like affirmative action, free speech and the proper relationship between church and state.

 

"c. identify, state, and justify value judgments related to democratic institutions;"

The main thrust of the course involves developing reasoned value judgments about the topics addressed, including the proper contours of the public/private dichotomy in areas such as free speech, church-state relations, and privacy doctrine.

 

"d. understand the nature of non-democratic institutions;"

The course's investigation of "constitutionalism" contrasts liberal democracy with the non-liberal governmental arrangements of autocratic rule (no rule of law) and totalitarianism (no limits on government).

 

"e. understand the implications of taking responsibility for the consequences of their own actions for democratic institutions;

Students are confronted with the task of deciding what the contours of constitutional law should be--for example, whether strong or only weak affirmative action should be allowed, whether pornography should be allowed as an exercise of free speech, whether teaching creationism in public schools should be allowed under the Constitution, etc.

 

"f. understand the relation of equal rights to democratic institutions; "

One of the main topics of the course is affirmative action and reverse discrimination, which involves an investigation of concepts of social justice and notions of equal rights.

 

 

CONSTITUTIONAL PHILOSOPHY

PHIL. 335

Curriculum, Outcomes, Policies, and Requirements

University Studies--Democratic Institutions

 

 

 

Syllabus

 

 

 

Prof. Scheid 1:00--1:50 p.m., M,W,F

Office: 323 Minn� Hall 234 Minn� Hall

Phone: 457-5455

 

This course may be taken to count for a University Studies course under the category of "Democratic Institutions."

 

 

Textbooks

> John Arthur, The Unfinished Constitution: Philosophy and Constitutional Practice (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth) 1989.

> Sanford Levinson, Constitutional Faith (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press) 1988.

> Additional materials will be provided in class. (No charge!)

 

 

Course and Routine

This is a reading/discussion/lecture type of course. Readings and other assignments will be given on a class-by-class basis.

This is a 300-level course intended for juniors and seniors. According to WSU's Undergraduate Catalog (under Academic Programs, Course Descriptions):

Generally, freshmen take 100 level courses, sophomores 200 level, juniors 300 level, and seniors 400 level. Students are required to limit course selection to courses not more than one level above their class standing.

Therefore, Freshmen are strongly urged not to take this course.

 

 

Attendance

Attendance is a basic requirement of this course. Participation in class discussions is part of the course. Furthermore, as with most philosophy, the material in this course is best understood, and most easily learned, through discussion.

Accordingly, each student will be allowed three absences for the semester. It is advisable to save these for sickness or other emergencies. Beyond these three "free" absences, the course grade will be reduced automatically by one third of a letter grade for each absence.

Note that sports activities are not considered "excused absences" any more than outside work schedules or conflicts with other classes.

 

 

Homework

Occasional homework exercises may be assigned from time to time. A good-faith effort on this work will receive an automatic "A" when the work is turned in on time. A "good-faith effort" means, among other things, that the work is neat, complete, and in good English. 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.

 

 

Papers

Two essay papers (5-7 pages) are required for this course. Papers must be typewritten, double-spaced, and stapled in the upper-left corner. Details on papers will be given in class, but all papers must be neat, complete, and in good English with no "too-common mistakes." Papers are, of course, due on the date assigned. Late papers (a week or less) will be accepted, but the grade for such papers will be reduced automatically. No credit will be given for papers more than one week late.

 

 

Examinations

There will be three regular, in-class examinations, including the final examination. Any student who misses an exam must arrange for a make-up exam as soon as possible. It is the student's responsibility to see about arrangements for any make-ups. Make-up exams will be arranged only for students who have documented, excused absences for the day of the original exam. Unexcused absences simply result in an "F" for that exam.

Make-up exams may be written or oral, at the professor's discretion. Written make-up exams usually include essay questions.

 

 

Course Grade

The final grade for the course will be determined approximately as follows.

Homework: 10%

Papers : 20%, 20%

Exams: 20%, 20%, 20%

In addition, as a minimum requirement (necessary condition) for passing the course, the student must pass at least one of the exams with a "D" or better and have at least one passing paper.

 

 

Manners and Decorum

Obviously, talking and other disturbances in class are not acceptable. Other things that I find distracting and/or rude include blowing bubble gum, snapping gum, clipping nails, snapping pens, and crinkling food bags and candy wrappers.

 

 

Cheating

Each student is expected to do his/her and only his/her own work on all papers and exams. Discussing homework assignments is OK, so long as the final piece of homework is completely the product of the person who turns it in for credit. Similarly, discussing paper topics is OK and, in fact, encouraged; but the paper itself must be written by the person who turns it in for credit.

As a matter of Philosophy Department policy, the best any student can expect to get out of this course for cheating is an "F".

 

The general guidelines for courses designated "Democratic Institutions" under the University Studies program are the following:

 

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.

These courses should promote students' abilities to:

(a) understand the principles upon which democratic governments are based;

(b) understand the problems of democracy and the conditions that favor or disfavor it;

(c) identify, state, and justify value judgments related to democratic institutions;

(d) understand the nature of non-democratic institutions;

(e) understand the implications of taking responsibility for the consequences of their own actions for democratic institutions;

(f) understand the relation of equal rights to democratic institutions;

 

The foregoing outcomes are to be achieved in this course as follows.

The course investigates the philosophical foundations of the American Constitution and contemporary issues arising out of constitutional law. The main topics addressed are natural-law theory, theories of constitutional interpretation, theories of free speech, church-state relations, privacy doctrine, equal protection and affirmative action, and the Constitution's relation to American society.

(a) The course begins with a consideration of the idea of "constitutionalism," a multifaceted idea that includes the concepts of the rule of law, the separation of powers, state and federal spheres of authority, individual rights, and limited government.

(b) Naturally, many of the problems of a democratic and multicultural society are taken up in this course in looking at issues like affirmative action, free speech and the proper relationship between church and state.

(c) The main thrust of the course involves developing reasoned value judgments about the topics addressed, including the proper contours of the public/private dichotomy in areas such as free speech, church-state relations, and privacy doctrine.

(d) The course's investigation of "constitutionalism" contrasts liberal democracy with the non-liberal governmental arrangements of autocratic rule (no rule of law) and totalitarianism (no limits on government).

(e) Students are confronted with the task of deciding what the contours of constitutional law should be--for example, whether strong or only weak affirmative action should be allowed, whether pornography should be allowed as an exercise of free speech, whether teaching creationism in public schools should be allowed under the Constitution, etc.

(f) One of the main topics of the course is affirmative action and reverse discrimination, which involves an investigation of concepts of social justice and notions of equal rights.