MORALITY AND POLITICS SPRING 2016
Do the ends justify the means? If they don’t, what does? When the moral and the expedient conflict, which one should you choose? Is revenge just? Is it a good idea? What, if any, are legitimate grounds for starting a war? Is it always better that the truth come out in politics? Should politicians keep their promises? Is loyalty to our friends and family more important than the common good? What is the relationship between moral virtue and both political success and personal happiness? We will examine the ways in which great thinkers both ancient and modern have grappled with these questions. About half of the course will be devoted to examining the arguments that political philosophers—Aristotle, Cicero, and Machiavelli—make about the role of morality in politics. We will spend the other half of the course examining moral dilemmas, and how various characters resolve them, in plays and novels by authors such as Sophocles, Euripides, Shakespeare, Addison, and Ibsen.
This course carries the Ethics and Leadership flag. Ethics and Leadership courses are designed to equip you with skills that are necessary for making ethical decisions in your adult and professional life. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments involving ethical issues and the process of applying ethical reasoning to real-life situations.
1. Euripides II. By Euripides. Complete Greek Tragedies Series. University of Chicago.
2. Euripides IV. By Euripides. Complete Greek Tragedies Series. University of Chicago.
3. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. By Aristotle. Translated by Robert C. Bartlett and Susan Collins. University of Chicago.
4. The Prince. By Niccolo Machiavelli. Translated by Harvey C. Mansfield. University of Chicago Press.
5. The Theban Plays. By Sophocles. Translated by Peter Ahrensdorf and Thomas L. Pangle. Agora.
6. Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays. By Joseph Addison. Edited by Christine Dunn Henderson and Mark E. Yellin. Liberty Fund.
7. Politics. By Aristotle. Translated by Ernest Barker. Oxford University Press.
8. Julius Caesar. By William Shakespeare. Bantam Classics.
9. Darkness at Noon. By Arthur Koestler. Bantam Books.
10. Ibsen: Four Major Plays, Volume II. By Henrik Ibsen. Signet Classics.
11. On Duties. By Marcus Tullius Cicero. Edited by M. T. Griffin and E. M. Atkins. Cambridge Texts.
Grading and Requirements:
First Exam: 30%
Second Exam: 30%
Class Participation, Including Pop Quizzes: 10%
Attendance is required.