Social & Political Philosophy Syllabus

Babylonian Boundary StonePHIL 2, Spring 2017, Class Code: 21172

Mon/Wed 9 – 10:15 AM, Room: BCC 52

Instructor: Eric Gerlach – email:

Office Hours: Fridays 12 – 1:30 PM @ K’s Coffee, next to BCC

Course Description: This course introduces students to the history of Social and Political Philosophy.  We will study ancient and modern thinkers on the subjects of human nature, social class, authority, liberty, capitalism, socialism, communism, anarchism, fascism, post-colonialism, and feminism.

Texts: The readings for each lecture will be posted in the lecture notes or distributed via email list a week before we cover each topic.

Assignments: Two 3-5 page essays (50%) & a final 6-10 page paper (50%)


Jan 23 – Introduction

Jan 25 & 30 – Tribal & City State Politics

Feb 1 & 6 – The Analects of Confucius

Feb 8 & 13 – Plato’s Republic

Feb 15 & 22 – Aristotle’s Politics – 1st Paper Assigned Feb 22

Feb 27 & Mar 1 – Machiavelli’s The Prince – 1st Paper Due Mar 1

Mar 6 & 8 – Hobbes’ Leviathan

Mar 13 & 15 – Locke’s Second Treatise of Government

Mar 20 & 22 – Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality – 2nd Paper Assigned Mar 22

Mar 27 & 29 – Mill’s On Liberty

Apr 3 & 5 – Thoreau’s On the Duty of Civil Disobedience – 2nd Paper Due Apr 5

Apr 10 & 12 – No Class – Spring Break

Apr 17 & 19 – Engel’s Socialism: Utopian & Scientific

Apr 24 & 26 – Marx & Engel’s Communist Manifesto – Final Paper Assigned Apr 26

May 1 & 3 – Marcuse’s Reason & Revolution

May 8 & 9 – Bakunin’s God & the State

May 15 & 17 – Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman

May 22 & 24 – Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth – Final Paper Due May 28

Essay Grading Policy:  For each essay, state the question you are answering and take a clear position at the beginning, then argue with clear and focused points for the required page length.  Do not summarize material that is irrelevant.  You can include personal experience, examples from fiction or material from outside the course.

This class is acceptable for credit at UC and CSU. It counts towards GE AA/AS area 3; CSU area C2; and IGETC area 3. It can be used as an elective for the Liberal Arts with an Emphasis in Arts and Humanities, Associate in Arts Degree Program and the Liberal Arts: Intersegmental General Education Transfer (IGETC) Certificate of Achievement and the Global Studies AA Degree.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of major philosophers.

2. Analyze and evaluate philosophical positions through argument that displays individual perspective.

General Student Requirements: Students are expected to come to class prepared to ask questions and participate in discussions. All readings and assignments should be completed by the beginning of class on the day they are listed here. This class is run as a lecture/discussion course.  Students are responsible for all class material (even if they miss class). If you miss class, it is strongly advised that you ask a classmate for notes. It is your responsibility to ask if you missed something; it is not the instructor’s responsibility to remind you. Please read through the syllabus and plan ahead.

Plagiarism, “to use another person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source” (MLA Handbook,  5th ed., §1.8)—will not be tolerated. Plagiarists, intentional or inadvertent, will receive a zero on the assignment in question; repeat offenders will get an F for the course and will be subject to college disciplinary action. Students are encouraged to review plagiarism policies in the current catalog.

Disabled Student Program and Services (DSPS) are provided for any enrolled student who has a verified disability that creates an educational limitation that prevents the student from fully benefiting from classes without additional support services or instruction. Please let the instructor know if you require any support services or would like more information about DSPS.

This syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor. Any changes will be announced in class. Additional handouts of required readings may also be added.

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