Intro to PT

POT 2002: Introduction to Political Theory

Fall 2017, MWF 1:55 PM-2:45

Room: Turlington Hall 2354

Instructor: Prof. Steven Klein


P: 352-273-2391

Office: Anderson Hall 004

Office Hours: W 10:00 AM -12:00 PM


Political theory is the study of the basic ideas, such as freedom, citizenship, rights, and democracy, through which we make sense of the political world. This course will introduce you to the discipline of political theory by way of three central political questions: Who should rule? When is inequality justified? And when do the ends justify the means? We will examine political thinkers from a variety of historical periods and intellectual traditions who provide distinctive visions of political life and so different answers to these fundamental questions. In addition to examining the internal cogency of their arguments, we will explore how their ideas have impacted the political world and how they continue to shape contemporary events. Students will learn to engage with writings from unfamiliar contexts, analyze difficult and complex arguments, and produce rigorous written work.


1. Plato, The Republic (trans. C. D. C. Reeve), Hackett

2. Machiavelli, The Prince (trans. Wootten), Hackett

3. John Locke, Second Treatise of Government (ed. C.B. Macpherson), Hackett

4. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Basic Political Writings (ed. Cress, trans. Wootten), Hackett

5. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and A Vindication of the Rights of Men (ed. Todd), Oxford

6. Gandhi, Selected Political Writings (ed. Dalton), Hackett

7. Sophocles, Antigone, Hackett Classics

All other readings will be available online.


Assignments and Grading: Grades for the course will be determined by 5 components: two response papers (20% each); a midterm (20%); a course final (30%); and participation (10%). The midterm will be in class on Friday, October 27. The final will occur at the time and date listed below. The midterm and final will combine short answers and an essay (one essay on midterm, two essays on final). Essay questions for the exams will be distributed in advance. In the absence of a legitimate excuse, a late paper will lose one letter grade for each day it is late (i.e., A- becomes B-, B becomes C, etc.). A legitimate excuse would include an illness with a signed doctor’s note. Due dates for the papers are listed below. Please review the university’s attendance policy here:

The grading scale for the course is as follows:

94% – 100% = A, 90% – 93% = A-, 87% – 89% = B+, 84% – 86% = B, 80% – 83% = B-, 77% – 79% = C+, 74% – 76% = C, 70% – 73%= C-, 67% – 69% = D+, 64% – 66% = D, 60% – 63% = D-, < 60% = F

Further information on the University of Florida’s standard grading point system can be found here:

Further details on grading for the assignments will be distributed before their due date. We will reserve class time to discuss how to best approach your assignments. You may appeal a grade if you are unhappy with it. However, I reserve the right to change the grade in either direction.

For more information on paper grading, please see the grading rubric and paper checklist.

Class Format: This class combines lectures and discussion. You are expected to attend all lectures and participate actively in our discussions. Monday and Wednesdays will be lecture classes, and we will reserve Fridays for more intensive large and small group discussions. I expect us to maintain a respectful, safe environment for individuals to express their views. If you have concerns about this or feel uncomfortable with the classroom environment, please come talk to me.

Preparation: You should do the reading for a given lecture prior to coming to class on that day. The lectures will only be helpful if you have already reflected upon the readings. This is a quite reading-intensive course, so keep up!

Office Hours: I encourage you to come talk to me about the readings and assignments during office hours. My office hours are Wednesday from 10 AM to 12 PM and my office is in Anderson Hall 004.

Policy on Academic Integrity:  All students are required to abide by the University of Florida’s Academic Honesty Guidelines, which may be viewed at Most obviously, this means cheating on exams and plagiarism on papers is completely unacceptable. Examples of plagiarism include but are not limited to: submitting entire papers written by others, submitting portions of papers written by others, copying text without quotations and proper citation, or paraphrasing text without proper attribution in a footnote. In addition to harming your professional career, academic dishonesty will destroy your ability to learn from this class. If you ever have any questions about whether something counts as academic dishonesty, please contact me. I am happy to clarify these rules further.

Accommodations: Students with disabilities requiring academic accommodations must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation.  Please come see me as soon as possible regarding this matter.

Electronic Devices: The most important part of this class is active listening and participation. So please turn off your cell phones (off, not silenced). I strongly encourage you to take notes by hand. If you must use a computer, you should turn off your internet or use an application such as Freedom that will restrict your access during the class. You will get much more out of this course if you are focused and present.

Evaluations: Students are expected to provide feedback on the course at the end of the semester. Forms can be found here:

Lectures, Reading, and Discussion Schedule:

August 21 (M): Logistics

August 23 (W): What is political theory? What is politics?

Part I. Who Should Rule?

August 25 (F): “Pericles’s Funeral Oration,” from Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (c. 431-430 BCE)


August 28 (M): Plato, Republic (c. 380 BCE), Book I, Book II (up to 376d)

August 30 (W): Plato, Republic, Book III (from 412a), Book IV

September 1 (F): Class Canceled (American Political Science Association Annual Meeting)

September 4 (M): No Class – Labor Day Holiday

September 6 (W): Plato, The Republic, Book V (skip 466d to 472), Book VI, Book VII (up to 521b)

September 8 (F): IRMA

September 11 (M): IRMA

September 13 (W): IRMA

September 15 (F): Plato, The Republic, Book VIII

September 18 (M): Rousseau, On the Social Contract (1762), Book I and Book II

September 20 (W): Rousseau, On the Social Contract, Book III and Book IV, Chapters 1-2   *First Paper Topics Handed Out*

September 22 (F): Discussion: how to write a political theory paper

September 25 (M): Hamilton and Madison, Federalist Papers (1788), no. 1, 9, 10, 14, 39, 51, 57, 62-63


Part II. When is inequality justified?

September 27 (W): Locke, Second Treatise of Government (1690), Chapters 1-5

September 29 (F): Discussion

October 2 (M): Locke, Second Treatise, Chapters 6-9

October 4 (W): Locke, Second Treatise, Chapters 10-13, 16 ** First Paper Due **

October 6 (F): No Class – Homecoming

October 9 (M): Rousseau, A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1755), Epistle; Preface; Part I; notes 9, 10, 11, 15

October 11 (W): Rousseau, A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Part II; note 16

October 13 (F): Discussion

October 16 (M): Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), Introduction, Chapters 1-4

October 18 (W): Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), 5 (Only Section I), 6-8

Midterm Essay Questions Distributed

October 20 (F): Discussion

October 23 (M): Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Chapters 9, 12-13

October 25 (W): Midterm Review

October 27 (F): ** Midterm Examination (In Class) **

October 30 (M): Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto (1848)


Part III. When do the ends justify the means?

November 1 (W): Sophocles, Antigone (c. 441 BCE)

November 3 (F): Discussion Second Paper Topics Handed Out

November 6 (M): Machiavelli, The Prince (1513), Dedication, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 6

November 8 (W):  Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapters 7-14

November 10 (F): No Class – Veteran’s Day

November 13 (M): Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapters 15-19, 25-26

November 15 (W): Weber, Politics as a Vocation (will be distributed electronically – read up to page 58)

** November 17 (F): Discussion Second Paper Due **

November 20 (M): Weber, Politics as a Vocation, cont’d (pages 58-94)

November 22 (W): No Class—Thanksgiving

November 24 (F): No Class—Thanksgiving

November 27 (M): Hobbes, Leviathan (1651), Chapter 18, Chapter 29, Locke, Second Treatise, Chapters 18-19

November 29 (W): Gandhi, Selected Political Writings, pp. 30-32, 37-42, 47-58, 59-60, 73-75, 81-93, 98-110, 144-153

December 1 (F): Discussion

December 4 (M): Martin Luther King, Jr., ”Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (1963)


December 6 (W): Final Exam Review (Essay Questions Distributed)


FINAL EXAMINATION: Thursday, December 14th, 10:00 AM-12:00 PM, Room TBA