Syllabus Fall 2004
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Section A: Tues/Thurs, 11:30am-12:45pm
Office: 213 Lake Superior Hall
Office Hours: Mon 9-11,
and by arrangement
John Dewey wrote that "the cure for the ailments of democracy
is more democracy" (The Public and Its Problems,
1927). This course is designed for students and citizens who wish to
become more familiar with
- the historical development of the concept of democracy,
- the main "ailments" that some believe afflict
- the major contemporary accounts of the aims, values, and
functions (perhaps curative) of contemporary liberal democracy.
As a philosophy course, our energies will be primarily
directed toward the critical examination of concepts and
beliefs that are central to theories of democracy as a preferred
form of political arrangement. The aim of such critical inquiry is
to attain a more refined and clear understanding of these crucial
As a course about democracy (and as one that is
significantly influenced by Dewey's and other pragmatists' views of
democracy, knowledge, and education) our inquiry presumes that all
participants will contribute. Individual contribution to the class
takes various forms: preparing for informed participation in each
class meeting, directly leading one class dicussion, and working
with the instructor and the other participants to shape certain
aspects of the course content (especially "Topic V" and
the Final Exam).
Christiano, Thomas. Philosophy and Democracy: An Anthology.
Oxford University Press, 2002. (Required)
Cunningham, Frank. Theories of Democracy: A Critical
Introduction. Routledge, 2003. (Required)
Gibaldi, Joseph and Phyllis Franklin. MLA Handbook for Writers
of Research Papers. Sixth edition. Modern Language Association
of America, 2003. (Recommended)
PHI 335-A Course Pack. Available in University
Other materials will be made available in class as
Assignments and Grading
- Paper 1 750 words on the basis for democracy. (15%)
- Paper 2 1000 words on the value of democracy. (15%)
- In-class presentation/discussion Conducted by 2-person
teams, ongoing through weeks 3-13. (15%)
- Research paper proposal and bibliography 1 page
proposal for research project, with 12-15 item MLA
format bibliography. (10%)
- Research paper 3000-3500 words on chosen topic. (25%)
- Final Exam (20%)
The success of this class depends largely on in-class
participation. You are expected to be here on time, prepared to
discuss the assigned readings. I do not distinguish between "excused"
and "unexcused" absences. The equivalent of one week's absences will
be tolerated without penalty. Each absence beyond that is the basis
for a penalty, to be deducted from your final grade.
2 class periods missed - no penalty
3-5 class periods missed - 3% deduction from semester grade for each
More than 5 classes missed - No Credit (F)
[ A ] Outstanding. Work displays thorough mastery of
material, exceptionally good writing, and genuine engagement with the
subject-matter. This grade is reserved for those students who attain
the highest levels of excellence in thought and scholarship.
[ B ] Good. Work displays accurate understanding of
the material, writing is clear and free of mechanical errors.
[ C ] Fair. Work displays basic grasp of material,
though there may be the occasional misunderstanding or
inaccuracy. Writing quality acceptable.
[ D ] Marginal. Work displays a grasp of the material
adequate for credit, but quality of work indicates lack of effort or
[ F ] Unacceptable. Excessive absences, assignments
not completed, or assignments unworthy of credit. Cheating or
plagiarism will earn an automatic F for the assignment and/or the
Papers should be proofread, printed in a readable dark
print, double-spaced, and have numbered pages. Cover sheets and
external binders are unnecessary and wasteful--please don't use
them. Include your name, the course number and section, date, and the
assignment name or title on the first page. A paper encumbered by
excessive spelling, grammatical, punctuation, and/or documentation
errors will not receive a grade higher than C-, regardless of whatever
other merits the paper may have.
It is best to turn in papers in class. If this is not possible,
papers may be turned in at 213 Lake Superior Hall. Papers
received after the announced deadline will not be graded except when
the paper is late due to genuine emergency.
Special Note on Proper Citation of Sources and Plagiarism
"Offering the work of someone else as one's own is plagiarism"
(GVSU Student Code, Sec 223.01). There is such a thing as
unintentional plagiarism. It results from ignorance of proper
citation practices, but is nonetheless a violation of academic
standards and will not be tolerated.
In general, any use of words or ideas that one obtains from a
specific source requires a citation of that source. Citations may take
the form of footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical references. Whatever
its form, a citation identifies the author, title, date and other
bibliographic information for the work cited, and identifies where in
the source the referenced information appears.
All citations and lists of works consulted should follow the
guidelines in The MLA Handbook. The handbook is available in
the bookstore and at good libraries everywhere; see the GVSU Library
website or the course website for online guides to MLA style.
Topics and Readings
I. Introduction and Overview of Political
Philosophy (2 wks)
- Article: "History of Political Philosophy," Hobbes,
II. Survey: Theories of Democracy (4 wks)
III. Contemporary Views of Democracy and Philosophy (3 wks)
- Selected essays from Christiano; Rawls
IV. Pragmatism and Democracy (3 wks)
- Bernstein, classical pragmatists, Habermas, Rorty, Stout
V. Current Issues of Democracy (2 wks)
- Topic and readings to be determined by participants. Possible
topics: Religious Tradition and Liberal Democracy,
Globalization, Gender and/or Race, Technology, Environment,
U.S. Involvement in Iraq, Terrorism, Analysis of November 2004
Add/Drop Period Ends
Sept. 3, 5pm
Paper 1 Due
Labor Day Recess
Paper 2 Due
Drop (75% Tuition Refund)
Sept. 24, 5pm
Research Proposal Due
Oct. 22, 5 pm
Research Paper Due
Wed. Dec. 15, 12-1:50pm
General Education Program Information
The Democracy Theme
This course is part of the General Education "Democracy" Theme.
Following is additional information to assist you in deciding whether
you would like to choose this theme to fulfill your general education
The Theme and its Purpose
The historical roots of democracy extend to ancient Greece, but only
since the mid-eighteenth century has it become a principle embraced
by the masses and capable of sparking revolution. Moreover, what we
think democracy means today in the United States often bears little
resemblance to what it has meant in the past and what it currently
means for other peoples around the globe. In fact, one might argue
that Americans in the twenty-first century take democracy for
granted and have little clear idea of what it entails or how it has
shaped their politics, educational institutions, social relations,
cultural values, economic practices, and legal system. These
charges will not apply to students choosing the Democracy theme,
which explores the meanings of democracy and its far-ranging and
often unanticipated consequences from various points of view.
The Theme Objectives
- To explore the various definitions and concepts of
- To examine the role of the individual in democracies.
- To analyze the societal institutions that embody democratic dials,
for example, legal, economic, civic, scientific, and educational
All courses in a Thematic Group use teaching methods that help
students become more proficient in the following skills:
- To engage in articulate expression through effective speaking
- To think critically and creatively;
- To locate, evaluate, and use information effectively;
- To integrate areas of knowledge and view ideas from multiple
Linkages Between the Theme Courses
- A common reading assignment (e.g., John Dewey, "Creative
Democracy - The Task Before Us", 1930) will be used to ling the
courses within the students' experience. The reading may vary
periodically, but it would serve as the basis for a discussion in
each of the theme courses.
- A common event or events will be held each semester, organized
by students and faculty participating in the theme. Such events
might include a forum on a timely public issue relevant to the
theme, a public speaker, theme panels at Student Scholarship Day,
etc. All students enrolled in a theme course that semester would
be required to attend.
Courses in the Theme
Note: To meet your theme requirement, you must select three
courses from three disciplines. You cannot get theme credit for
both political science courses.
- ECO 365: Comparative Economic Systems
- Relative to such economic goals as economic freedom, consumer
welfare, the equitable distribution of income, full employment,
efficiency, growth, and security, how well do alternative
political-economic systems perform? This course studies
contemporary evolving capitalist, communist, and post-communist
systems in either East Asia, Europe, or Latin America.
Prerequisite: ECO 200 or 210.
- HST 318: History of Democracy in America
- Examines the historical development of democratic principles,
ideologies, and practices in American history. Focuses on the range
and limits of democracy in American History, debates among Americans
over democracy and the practice of democracy in a variety of areas,
including parties, voting, citizenship, and the presidency.
Prerequisite: Completion of Historical Perspectives Category or
- PHI 335: Philosophy and Democracy
- Explores the idea of democracy within the context of a major
philosophical tradition., Investigates the concept of democracy in
such areas as social and political thought, educational theory,
aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of science and
philosophy of religion.
- PLS 306: American Constitutional Law I
- This course examines the constitutional foundations of the power
relationship between the federal government and the states, among
the three braches of the federal government, and between the
government and the individual, with special emphasis given to the
role of the Supreme Court in a democratic political system.
Prerequisites: PLS 102 or Junior Standing.
- PLS 339: Comparative Democratization
- Seminar course assesses the theories and approaches used to explain
the comparative politics of democratization. Focuses on democratic
transition, consolidation, the social and institutional bases of
democracy, and the role of individual choices in shaping democracy.
Examines case studies of democratization in East Asia, Latin
America, Europe, and the Middle East. Prerequisites: PLS 103 or any
comparative politics course or Junior Standing.
- MTH 330: The Mathematics of Voting and Elections
- A study of voting, elections, and social choice from within the
framework of mathematical modeling and problem solving. Topics
include models of voter preference, election procedures, voting
paradoxes, impossibly theorems, power indices and referendum
elections. Prerequisites: MTH 110, WRT 150, and completion of the
Mathematical Sciences Foundation.