Introduction to Political Theory

GFPT 700                                                                                                               G. Klosko

Introduction to Political Theory                                                           Cabell 248B; 4-3092

Fall 2003                                                                                            


Material for the course is available in three forms.  I have ordered the books listed below

at the University bookstore.  If you have other editions, they should be fine, although it will

be more difficult to follow discussion of specific passages in class.  Books are also on

reserve in Clemons Library.


Additional material is on reserve.  Almost all of this is on the course’s toolkit page:

If you have problems printing and would like a hard copy to copy from, please let me know.


Longer readings that I could not put on the toolkit page are on reserve in Clemons.  These are

marked ** in the list, below.


  1. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Second Edition (Chicago, paperback)

Plato, Republic, G.M.A. Grube, trans. (Hackett, paperback)

  1. Hobbes, Leviathan(Cambridge, paperback)

C.B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism (Oxford, paperback)

  1. Locke,  Two Treatises of Government(Cambridge, paperback)
  2. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, 2nd. ed. (Harvard, paperback)
  3. Tucker, ed., The Marx‑Engels Reader, Second Edition (Norton, paperback)
  4. Foucault, Discipline and Punish(Vintage, paperback)
  5. Nietzsche,  The Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo, W. Kaufmann, ed. (Vintage,


  1. Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols, R. J. Hollingdale, ed. (Penguin, paperback)


I Paradigms


  1. 1. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.



II The History of Political Theory


  1. 2. Plato, Republic, G.M.A. Grube, tr. (Hackett, paperback).


  1. 3. Strauss


  1. Strauss, “On Plato’s Republic,” The City and Man


Strauss, “Persecution and the Art of Writing,” in Persecution and the Art of Writing.


“On a Forgotten Kind of Writing,” in What is Political Philosophy?


“Exoteric Teaching,” in The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism, T. Pangle ed.


Recommended: G. Klosko, “The ‘Straussian’ Interpretation of Plato’s Republic,” History of 

Political Thought, 7 (1986),


  1. 4. T. Hobbes, Leviathan(Cambridge, paperback): Chaps. 1-18, 20-21, 26, 28-30,

Review and Conclusion


5-6. Interpretations of Hobbes and Strategies of Interpretation


  1. Skinner, Meaning & Context, J. Tully, ed., Chaps. 2,3 **


  1. Plamenatz, Man and Society, “Introduction.”


A.E.Taylor, The Ethical Doctrine of Hobbes, in Hobbes Studies, S. Brown, ed.


Skinner, “The Context of Hobbes’s Theory of Obligation,” in Hobbes and Rousseau: A

Collection of Critical Essays, M. Cranston and R. S. Peters, eds.


Skinner, “History and Ideology in the English Revolution,” Historical Journal, 8 (1965), pp.



Skinner, “The Ideological Context of Hobbes’s Political Thought,” Historical Journal, 9

(1966), pp. 313-17


Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, Chaps. 1, 2.


Recommended:  R. Ashcraft, Revolutionary Politics & Locke’s Two Treatises of Government,


Recommended:  J. G. A. Pocock, “The State of the Art,” in Virtue, Commerce, and History.

Recommended: J.G.A. Pocock, Politics, Language, and Time, Chap. 1.

Recommended: J. Gunnell, “The Myth of the Tradition,” American Political Science Review, 72



  1. 7. J. Locke, The Second Treatise on Civil Government, in Two Treatises of 

Government (Cambridge, paperback)


  1. Interpretation of Locke


Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, Chap. 5


  1. Dunn, The Political Thought of John Locke, Preface, Chap. 1**

Recommended: Chaps. 5-14


Richard Ashcraft, “Revolutionary Politics and Locke’s Two Treatises of Government,”

Political Theory, 8 (1980).


  1. J. Simmons, The Lockean Theory of Rights, Introduction.


  1. Waldron, “Locke: Toleration and the Rationality of Persecution,” in John Locke, A Letter

Concerning Toleration in Focus, J. Horton and S. Mendus, eds.


Recommended: Strauss, “Locke,” in Natural Right and History.



III Political Theory as Ideology


  1. 9. R. Tucker, ed., The Marx‑Engels Reader, Second Edition

(Norton, paperback): pages (to be read in this order): 3‑6, 681‑2, 469‑500, 146‑200,

143‑145, 203‑217, 294‑302, 361‑76, 419‑442, 760‑68



IV Normative Issues


  1. 10.  Rawls, A Theory of Justice, 2nd. ed. (Harvard, paperback): Chaps. I‑III; IV: Secs.

33‑35, 38‑40;  VI; VII: Secs. 66‑67; VIII: Sec. 77; IX: Secs. 78‑79, 82, 85‑7. (Oct. 30)


  1. 11. Values and Political Theory


  1. Weber, “Objectivity in the Social Science,” in The Methodology of the Social 



  1. Nagel, The Structure of Science, 485‑502.


Strauss, “What is Political Philosophy?” in An Introduction to Political Philosophy, pp.12-24.


Recommended: D. Easton, The Political System, Ch. 9


Recommended: A. J.. Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic,  pp. 102‑20



V Postmodern Critique


  1. 12. M. Foucault, Discipline and Punish.


  1. Midelfort, Madness and Civilization in Early Modern Europe: A Reappraisal of Michel

Foucault,” in After the Reformation, B. Malament, ed.


  1. Gutting, “Foucault and the History of Madness,” in The Cambridge Companionto Foucault,

Gutting, ed.



  1. 13. F. Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, in W. Kaufmann, ed., The Genealogy of

 Morals and Ecce Homo.


The Twilight of the Idols, R. J. Hollingdale, ed.






Aside from doing the reading and discussing it, there are three formal requirements.


  1. Paper of 12-15 pages, assessing specific readings or a more general approach

discussed in the course. (If you prefer, you can substitute two shorter papers, 6-7 pages each.)


  1. Regular, in class presentations; the number of these depends on enrollment in the course.


  1. Take-home final exam.



Basic Secondary Sources on the History of Political Thought (on reserve)


  1. H. Sabine, The History of Political Theory.
  2. Plamenatz, Man and Society, two vols. (Machiavelli through Marx)
  3. H. McIlwain, The Growth of Political Theory in the West. (Ancient and Medieval)
  4. Forsyth and M. Keens-Soper, eds., A Guide to the Political Classics: Plato to 

Rousseau (Oxford, 1988)

  1. Forsyth, M. Keens-Soper, and J. Hoffman, eds., The PoliticalClassics: Hamilton to Mill

(Oxford, 1993)

  1. Forsyth and M. Keens-Soper, eds., The Political Classics: Green to Dworkin (Oxford,


  1. Hampsher-Monk, A History of Modern Political Thought.


A useful source on contemporary political theory is:

  1. Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy, Second edition (Oxford, 2002).