Social and Political Philosophy

    FALL 2020
    Discuss either IA or IB, and either IIA or IIB. In each case, make sense of the authors/
    authors positions and reasoning. Aim for 4-5 pages (double-spaced) for each essay
    (approximately 8-10 pages total).
    Youre expected to make use of the class lectures, readings, and discussions. Those are
    the materials youre being examined on. Support your views of the authors positions
    and reasoning with brief quotations; you neednt include a formal bibliography, but you
    should refer to sources and page numbers in the text of your essay, e.g., as Rousseau
    reasoned in Bk I, Chapt 2 of On the Social Contract or (Rousseau, Bk I, Chapt 2).
    Your essays will be due on Monday, November 2 at 5 p.m., your local time. (Canvas will
    have a due date of 5 p.m. PST, but Ill take your time zone into account to determine
    whether you submitted on time. Submit by 5 p.m. where you are.)
    Save both essays as one PDF. The file name should be your last name, a space, and your
    first name (e.g., beatty john.pdf). To submit, upload your PDF onto the Midterm Exam
    Assignment on Canvas.
    Also, please note that we will still have graded discussions this week (Tues, Oct 20
    Tues, Oct 27). But then well have a break from graded discussions (Tues, Oct 27 Tues,
    Nov 3).
    One of the main reasons why were extending the time you have to write your essays is
    so that we can be available for more office hours in the interim. See Kinleys recent
    Announcement re. our availability next week.
    Do not circulate this exam.
    Further desiderata:
    Your task is to make sense of an authors position and reasoning. What are they saying
    and why would they have thought that? To make sense of an authors position, it doesnt
    help to portray them as foolish, however wrong or misguided you personally consider
    them to be.
    Nor does it help to take an authors position and reasoning for granted, as if it there is
    no explanation required. Go to as much trouble to make sense of positions and lines of
    reasoning that you agree with as you would to make sense of positions you disagree
    In making sense of the authors in question, it may help to imagine that youre
    addressing an audience that is not already familiar with the subject matter. Imagine, for
    example, that youre addressing some of your peers who are interested to hear what
    your class is about, what sorts of things youre discussing. You have to be a bit of a
    teacher to make the authors viewpoints and reasoning understandable to such an
    As we all know, an explanation can be too short to make sense of the subject matter. As
    we also know, an explanation can be exceedingly long and still fail to make sense of the
    topic. Extra pages do not guarantee extra credit.

    Choose between topics IA and IB:
    IA. Discuss Robert Paul Wolffs position, that we should choose autonomy over
    authority (from Chapter 1 of his In Defense of Anarchism).
    IB. Discuss John Stuart Mills simple principle, and the special case of the simple
    principle involving thought and expression.
    Choose between topics IIA and IIB:
    IIA. Discuss similarities and differences between Hobbess and Rousseaus views of
    legitimate political authority.
    IIB. Discuss the thesis that views of political authority reflect views of human nature,
    focussing on the following: Plato, Hobbes and Rousseau

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