Modern Political Thought

Fall 2023
Subject Area:
Course Number:
PSCI 0601 601
Wednesday 5:15 - 8:15 p.m.
Primary Program:
LPS Undergraduate & Post-Baccalaureate
Course Description:

This course will provide an overview of major figures and themes of modern political thought. We will focus on themes and questions pertinent to political theory in the modern era, particularly focusing on the relationship of the individual to community, society, and state. Although the emergence of the individual as a central moral, political, and conceptual category arguably began in earlier eras, it is in the seventeenth century that it takes a firm hold in defining the state, political institutions, moral thinking, and social relations. The centrality of "the individual" has created difficulties, even paradoxes, for community and social relations, and political theorists have struggled to reconcile those throughout the modern era. We will consider the political forms that emerged out of those struggles, as well as the changed and distinctly "modern" conceptualizations of political theory such as freedom, responsibility, justice, rights, and obligations, as central categories for organizing moral and political life.