Political Theory and Public Law

GOVT 60.05 (Identical to NAS 36)

Indigenous Nationalism: Native Rights and Sovereignty

GOVT 60.09 (Identical to NAS 48)

Indians and European Political Thought: 1492 - 1832

GOVT 60.24

Bias and Persuasion in the Legal System

This course uses social scientific research to understand the United States Legal System: the behaviors and incentives it creates, the way judges, attorneys, and juries make legal decisions and evaluate evidence. We will examine the ways in which human decision-making rises to the occasion and meets the aims of the justice system, and the ways in which we fall short. We will examine the biases inherent in human decision-making, the assumptions underlying the justice system (and whether they are supported by scientific evidence), the ways in which investigative and courtroom procedures may enhance or reduce the ability of human beings to execute the law free from bias and prejudice.

GOVT 66.03

Democratic Theory

Course Description: 

Can we defend the value of democracy against serious and thoughtful criticism? Using a combination of classic and contemporary texts, this course encourages students to think rigorously about one of their most basic political values. It examines the origins of democratic theory in ancient Athenian political practice and the normative and practical criticisms of more contemporary thinkers. What makes politics "democratic?" What features distinguish the democratic regime from other regimes? What is democracy supposed to reflect or achieve? And what kinds of concerns about democracy did ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle raise? How (and why) did early modern and Enlightenment thinkers relocate the grounds for preferring democracy to other regimes?