Political Theory and Public Law

GOVT 86.04

Power and Statecraft in the Ancient World

Course Description:

Modern political thought is premised on a distinct set of assumptions about human nature, the relationship between politics and morality, and the character of virtue — or so it has been claimed. In this course, students will critically evaluate this argument in light of evidence drawn from Greek and Roman political histories. Working backward from Machiavelli, we will consider a range of classical texts that could be said to offer something like a 'modern' understanding of power and statecraft. Readings for this course will include Machiavelli's Prince, Xenophon's Education of Cyrus, Livy's History of Early Rome, Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, Josephus's Jewish Antiquities, Tacitus's Annals, and Suetonius's Lives of the Twelve Caesars

Govt 86.30 (Identical to Phil 50.21)

Current Research in Social/Political Philosophy

Course Description

GOVT 86.38

Justice At Work

Course Description:

This course examines how our societies ought to arrange their political and economic institutions and public policies with respect to work. Students will evaluate the existing world of work and ask whether and in what respects it ought to be transformed. Subjects we will consider include: workplace inequalities; the duty to work and workfare requirements; decent and meaningful work; public support for caregiving; emotional labor and domestic work; workplace democracy and public control over the means of production; shortening work hours and a universal basic income; and technological change and the future of work.

GOVT 86.40

Law and Society

Course Description:

This seminar examines some of the myriad relationships between courts, laws, lawyers and the larger society in the U.S.  Issues covered include legal consciousness, judicial biases, the role of rights, access to courts, legal education and the legal profession, and implementation of judicial decisions.  It is not a law course.  No judicial decisions are assigned.

The substantive goal of the seminar is to help you develop a more sophisticated and deeper understanding of the ways in which laws, lawyers, judges and courts actually interact with people's day-to-day lives.  In addition, through class discussion and papers, the seminar aims to sharpen your ability to effectively communicate your ideas.  Part of effective communication is improving your ability to disagree with others without being disagreeable, to express your views in ways that respect others and open, rather than, close discussion.

GOVT 86.41 (Identical to PHIL 38.02)

Ethics, Politics, and the Law

Course Description:

This interdisciplinary course will examine normative issues about ethics, politics, and the law. Specific question studied might include the following: When is the state justified in using coercive force to secure compliance with the law? How should we proceed with those who disagree with us about normative questions within a democratic, pluralistic society? Are there correct answers to normative questions at all, and (if so) how might we improve in learning about them?

Prerequesite: One philosophy course or one political theory course in the Government Department, or permission from the instructor.