Professor Smith discusses the moral and psychological components of the democratic state in the context of Tocqueville's Democracy in America. He goes on to explore the institutional development of the democratic state, the qualities of the democratic individual, and the psychological determinants of the democratic character. The ethic of self-interest is addressed, understood as an antidote to an ethic of fame and glory. Finally, Tocqueville is presented as a political educator and his views on the role of statesmen in a democratic age are expounded.
This course is intended as an introduction to political philosophy as seen through an examination of some of the major texts and thinkers of the Western political tradition. Three broad themes that are central to understanding political life are focused upon: the polis experience (Plato, Aristotle), the sovereign state (Machiavelli, Hobbes), constitutional government (Locke), and democracy (Rousseau, Tocqueville). The way in which different political philosophies have given expression to various forms of political institutions and our ways of life are examined throughout the course.