Robert Lane, Ph.D.

Political Philosophy (PHIL 4115)
Spring 2003

PHIL 4115
Political Philosophy (3 hours)
Spring Semester 2003
MWF 2:00pm - 2:50pm
Prerequisite: PHIL 2100
Classroom: Humanities 229
    Instructor: Dr. Robert Lane
Office: Humanities 150
Office Hours:
   M 10-11am & 3-5pm; Tu 11am-1pm & 2-4pm
   W 10-11am & 3-4pm; F 3-4pm; and by appt.
Office telephone: (770) 838-3039
Phil. Dept. telephone: (770) 836-6848


COURSE DESCRIPTION: An examination of significant themes in political philosophy, highlighting the way in which major concepts of political thought have evolved from ancient Greece to contemporary western society. By critically examining the works of classical and modern political theorists (such as Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Rawls and Nozick), we will explore such topics as the nature of the state, the justification of political authority, and distributive justice.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of the semester, each student will be able to identify, describe, ask questions concerning, and critically discuss (in both oral and written communications) the political theories articulated and defended by Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Marx, J.S. Mill, John Rawls, Robert Nozick and Martha Nussbaum. These course-specific learning outcomes contribute to the learning outcomes of the Philosophy Program by enabling students better to

  • discuss the general historical development of the discipline of philosophy and selected major historical figures in philosophy
  • ask philosophical questions
  • incorporate philosophical positions in oral and written communications
  • outline critically and analyze philosophical questions

    METHODS OF INSTRUCTION: The typical class session will consist of about 50% lecture and 50% class discussion. Each student is expected to participate in class discussions in an informed and vigorous manner. This will require careful and attentive reading of the assigned material before we discuss the material in class. Therefore, it is a must that you do the reading when it is assigned.


  • Steven Cahn, Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy ($35)
  • Links to other required reading material (such as news items and articles) may be posted on the class web site from time to time.
  • Various optional texts may be placed on reserve at the library during the course of the semester.

    100 - 91%A
    90 - 81%B
    80 - 71%C
    70 - 61%D
    60 - 0%F

    Test 1: in class - short answer & essay 20% February 17
    Paper 1 (1500-2000 words) 20% March 12
    Paper 2 (1500-2000 words) 20% April 25
    Test 2 / Final Exam: in class - short answer & essay - quasi-comprehensive 30% April 30 (2pm - 4pm)
    Class participation and discussion -- including knowledgeable comments, questions and answers regarding assigned readings 10% N/A


  • Class attendance will be recorded daily on a sign-in sheet that I will pass around at the beginning of class. It is your responsibility to make sure that you have signed the sheet before leaving class. Failure to sign the sheet will constitute an absence.
  • The attendance policy for this course is as follows: If you miss more than 14% of the total class meetings for the semester, you can be withdrawn from the course. There are 46 scheduled class meetings for this course (including the final exam). This means that if you miss seven class sessions, it is my prerogative to withdraw you from the course. If you miss seven or more class sessions without discussing your absences with me, you may be dropped from the class with a W (before the midpoint of the semester) or WF (after the midpoint of the semester).
  • An early departure or a late arrival counts as 1/3 of an absence… three late arrivals or three early departures (or a combination of late arrivals or early departures totaling three altogether) counts as one absence.


  • If you know that you will need to miss class on a day on which a test is scheduled (for example, due to a University sponsored event), you are required to let me know about your absence as far in advance as possible so that we can schedule another day and time for you to take the test (or a make-up test).
  • If you miss a test without receiving my explicit permission beforehand and making arrangements for a make-up test, you will be permitted to take a make-up test if and only if one of the following conditions applies: (a) Your absence was due to illness or injury serious enough to require professional medical care and which prevented you from contacting me before the test; or (b) Your absence was due to other extenuating circumstances beyond your control. I will determine on a case-by-case basis what constitutes "extenuating circumstances beyond your control." You will be required to provide documentation pertaining to your absence before you are allowed to take a make-up test.
  • Papers may be turned in late only if you have made arrangements with me beforehand and I have given you explicit permission.
  • Extra-credit work will not be given under any circumstances.


  • "each student is responsible for everything which happens in class and is responsible for making specific arrangements with the instructor for the work missed, including that missed during illness or university-sponsored activities"
  • "any student who is unable to continue attendance in class should either drop the course, withdraw from the University, or make appropriate arrangements with the instructors"
  • "any student who must be absent for more than three successive days is required to notify the Student Development Center, Parker Hall, telephone 770-836-6428."
  • "Students who do not intend to remain in a course must drop the course before the end of the official drop/add period. Failure to drop a course during the drop/add period may result in grades of F in courses not attended."
  • Academic Honor. "At West Georgia, the student is expected to achieve and maintain the highest standards of academic honesty and excellence. Not only does academic honesty preserve the integrity of both the student and the institution, but it is also essential in gaining a true education. The West Georgia student, therefore, pledges not to lie, cheat or steal in the pursuit of his or her studies and is encouraged to report those who do."


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    This page last updated 3/31/2003.

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