Professor Smith discusses the nature and scope of "political philosophy." The oldest of the social sciences, the study of political philosophy must begin with the works of Plato and Aristotle, and examine in depth the fundamental concepts and categories of the study of politics. The questions "which regimes are best?" and "what constitutes good citizenship?" are posed and discussed in the context of Plato's Apology.
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.