Introduction to Social & Political Philosophy

Internet Based

PHIL 207


Term:Spring, 2014 (January 18 - May)
Revision:31 De 13
Credits:3
Class Time:One online lecture weekly, plus readings.
You should set aside definite times each week to work.
Instructor:Frank Daniels
Instructor e-mail address: gretinski@gmail.com You need to know this! Do not e-mail your instructor through WebCampus!
Your instructor will not receive your e-mail unless it is sent to the address listed here.
Office: Frank Daniels
Great Basin College Ely Branch Campus
2115 Bobcat Drive
Ely, NV 89301
Phone: (775) 289-3589 (office)
(775) 289-3599 (college fax)

Textbooks: Plato: The Republic, trans. Benjamin Jowett; Dover Thrift Editions; ISBN 0-486-41121-4
Qur'an and Woman, by Amina Wadud; Oxford University Press; ISBN 0-19-512836-2
The Communist Manifesto and other Revolutionary Writings, ed. Bob Blaisdell, Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-42465-0
Bible, any English translation
People, Nation, and State: The Meaning of Ethnicity and Nationalism, by Mortimer and Fine; pub. by I.B. Tauris; ISBN 1-860-64401-5
Common Sense, by Glenn Beck, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 1-4391-6857-8
The Conscience of a Liberal, by Paul Krugman, WW Norton Books, ISBN 0-393-33313-8

These books may be ordered through your retail outlet of choice.



Class Conditions:

  1. You must have your own access to the Internet through a commercial provider and know how to login to your account.
  2. You must be able to access the Internet. This course does not teach you how to do that.
  3. You must have a Web browser and e-mail. The class assumes you are using Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer. You need an e-mail account somewhere to send and receive feedback. The class assumes that you know how to properly use e-mail and your browser.
  4. The course requires weekly participation in a discussion group in the WebCampus atmosphere. The course assumes that you either are familiar with WebCampus or will attend a WebCampus orientation in your area to become familiar with WebCampus.

Class Description:

Through readings and discussion, we will study theories concerning the nature of society and political structure. Readings will involve the analysis of works by philosophers from classical to modern times.

This course is NOT "self-paced". You must participate in a weekly discussion and read certain readings. Remember that you have a "live" instructor who will answer your questions -- this is not a correspondence course.

Course Objectives:

The student will survey elements of various social and political writings, coming to reach a better understanding of social/cultural issues. The student should gain an appreciation for different ideas and their development.

Learning Outcomes:

The successful student will be able to --
  • relate Platonic/Aristotelian social philosophy and Greek political structures to those found around the world in the modern day
  • examine in detail the elements of Islamic governments, including social changes within such governments
  • compare and contrast the ideals and practices of communism/socialism with those of capitalistic societies
  • explore with competence the concept of "human rights" in modern society
  • relate historical events in American history to the surrounding social issues and the development of the body of laws
  • explain the "liberal" political perspective from within
  • explain the "conservative" political perspective from within
  • explain "moderate" and other political perspectives as they relate to the others

In order to accurately measure competency in these outcomes, various instructional and diagnostic elements are employed. These are described below.

Instructional Methods:

Each week, there will be assigned readings from one or more of our textbooks. The weekly readings (from paper books) will be mentioned on each week at the top of the lecture page. In addition to those readings, the "lecture page" will refer to topics for discussion, and possibly to material related to but different from that in the textbooks, often linking to other websites. These websites are not controlled by Great Basin College, and the College does not endorse their content. Students are expected to participate in the discussions of each week's material and topics.

Each week's discussion of course material given in the lessons is due at 5PM on the day before the following lesson appears. In order to achieve the full complement of points for the discussion, you must post at least one substantive discussion item per topic. Often, these comments will come in response to questions posed at the bottom of the weekly lectures. Answer one or more of those questions in as much detail as you are able. Support your opinions with facts and inferences; avoid giving unfounded opinions or value judgments (e.g., "Everyone knows this is right," or "I like what they're doing.") or "amen" responses (e.g., "I agree with Terry.").

There will be two class assignments. The first of these will consist of a short response paper. The response paper must be a two to five page summary, typed and double spaced, describing what new information you have learned so far. Explain the material for the response paper in your own words. What has come out in the course discussion that was new/different/interesting? What did you find on the websites that the course links to? You may mail the discussion paper by hand or attach it as an MS Word file to an e-mail. If you mail it, the paper must be mailed to me at the College (address above) and postmarked no later than Wednesday of week 6. If you e-mail it, you must do so no later than 5 PM Pacific Time, on the Friday of week 6. I will accept the paper any time on or after the Friday of Week 3. For the format of the paper, see below.

The second assignment will be a comprehensive look at one of the weekly topics. Alternatively, you may select a topic from the following list:

  • What are Human Rights? Define government and society in terms of rights.
  • What is Equality? Explain in terms of American, Islamic, and dictatorial societies.
  • Why does government exist?
  • Give a Defense of Totalitarianism
  • Give a Defense of Theocracy
  • Give a Defense of Monarchy and/or Feudalism
  • Can there exist a Nation without a State?
  • Describe American Society apart from government. How do government and society relate?
  • (How) Can Church and State be Separated? (alt. How to have Ethics without Morals)
Wherever issues exist, you must present both (all) sides of the issues fairly -- presenting them in language that that opinion's supporters would use and without bias against any of them. Feel free to draw conclusions about the issue! You will not lose points for drawing a particular conclusion, but points will be deducted if all sides are not presented fairly -- as that group or side would present their views.
This research paper must cite (and list) three to five sources. At least two of these must come from outside our textbook(s). The paper must be at least eight complete length, typed, double spaced. TITLE PAGES, BIBLIOGRAPHY, and pages consisting mostly of PICTURES do not count toward the page total. See also below for a description of the paper format. You must submit a final topic via e-mail by the Friday that ends week 7. I must approve the choice of final topics. You may submit a final topic any time on or after the Friday of Week 4, and one reason that a topic might be rejected is that others in the class have chosen the same topic. Therefore, it is best to submit a choice of final topics soon. This final paper must be received by me (mailed, faxed, or attached) no later than 5PM Pacific Time on Monday of Week 15. I will accept the final paper any time on or after April 1st.

Contact Note:

Never -- under any circumstances -- try to use WebCampus e-mail to contact the instructor. I have deactivated WebCampus mail for myself and have removed it from the course. If you try to contact me that way, I will not receive your e-mail. Please use only "regular" e-mail, and write to me to the address indicated above.

Likewise, do not submit assignments to me via WebCampus. Attach your papers to an e-mail message, and send that message to gretinski@gmail.com. If you attempt to submit an assignment through WebCampus, you will receive no points for that assignment!

Calendar Note:

NOTE about Spring Break:
During Spring semesters, there is a one week break in "live" and IAV classes. This class ignores all holidays and continues straight through the break. Lessons will appear during that week just as in any other week. This paragraph does not apply during Fall semesters.

Due Dates:

Each week of the semester starts on Saturday and ends on Friday. The semester consists of sixteen consecutive weeks. Without exception, one lesson is posted each of the first fifteen weeks. Therefore, if you are unable to determine what week we are on, look at the number of the current lesson's file name.

All of the items are due on the day of the week (Monday, Friday) specified in the above paragraphs. If any numerical dates are given, the numerical dates are secondary and are provided only as a convenience. If a numerical date or dates does not match the day of the week given, it is the day of the week that is correct.

Each week's discussion of course material given in the lessons is due at 7PM Pacific Time on the day before the following lesson is scheduled to appear.

Assignment Date of Earliest Acceptance Due Date
Response/Reaction Paper Friday of Week 3 Friday of Week 6
Topic for In-Depth Paper Friday of Week 4 Friday of Week 7
In-Depth Report April 1st Monday of Week 15

More About the Papers

Both papers must have 1 side, top, and bottom margins and be typed in a 12 point ("normal looking") font. The first thing I am going to do is check the length. Short papers will have a letter grade deducted. Your reports should make sure to deal with the issues involved, not merely repeating historical materials. Both papers must treat all groups, opinions, and issues fairly. Your papers will not be graded on style or grammar. They should be written as well as you are able, however. The papers will be mailed back to you only if you request them and provide mailing information.

Grades will be based on the successful and timely completion of the assignments and on participation in the weekly discussion.

All papers must be saved in .doc (document), .docx (XML), or .rtf (rich text) format.

Grading Policy:

The class is graded on participation and the various assignments, as follows:
Class participation Notice how important this is! 30 points total
Response Paper 20 points
Final Topic Submitted and Approved on time 10 points (this is all-or-nothing!!)
Final Report 40 points

Therefore, the total number of points available for the semester is 100 points. The number of points required to obtain each grade is as follows:

A 90
B+ 85
B 80
C+ 75
C 70
D+ 65
D 60
F 0

Obtaining Your Grades

You are responsible for counting up your own participation points. Simply add two points per topic for substantive comments. Your instructor will add these only at the end.

When you have sent an approved topic, and when that topic has been approved, you will receive an e-mail indicating that the professor has approved your topic. If you have done all of this on time, you will receive ten (10) points; otherwise, you will receive no points for topic submission.

Beginning six calendar days after the due date of the Response Paper, you may inquire of the professor by e-mail as to your grade on the Response Paper. The professor will then write back with your score, and with any comments that he made regarding the paper. Was it too short? Was it late? Were points hard to follow? The professor's comments will address these issues.

The same policy applies to the Final Report as applies for the Response Paper.

If you do not ask for your grades in a timely fashion -- keeping in touch with the professor by e-mail -- then you will not receive them. It is your responsibility to ask for grade information.

Calculating Your Score Mid-Semester

Although I will also have this information, since it is easy to do so it is your responsibility to keep a running total of your own participation throughout the semester.
At any point during the semester you may determine how you are doing in the class. Add your points so far all of the points for participation and the written assignments that have occurred so far. Divide this sum by the number of available points so far. This will give your grade in decimal form. Multiplying that result by 100 will give you a percentage. For example, if there were 110 available points at some point during the semester, and you have accumulated 77 of them, then your percentage to date is: 7700/110 = 70. Your grade to date would be a C, based on the scale given above.

Withdrawal Policy:

If you determine that you wish to drop the course prior to its conclusion, it is necessary for you to officially drop: either online through the college's website, or by visiting one of our college campuses and submitting a drop form. Any student who does not officially drop will receive a grade at the conclusion of the course. These grades will be based on the number of points that you have accumulated (see above). You must officially drop prior to the Drop Deadline on the college website; otherwise you will receive a grade.

If you do not officially drop the course as described above, by taking this class you agree that your "last date of attendance" for official purposes will be the last day of your active participation in this course. If there should be a gap in your participation, your last date of attendance may be the last date prior to the gap. Since this may affect your financial aid, it behooves you to drop officially or to complete the entire course.

Academic Integrity:

The Nevada System of Higher Education (chapter 6) expressly forbids all forms of academic dishonesty, including (but not limited to) all forms of cheating, copying, and plagiarism. Students who are discovered cheating will be assigned zero points for the current assignment. If the cheating is believed to be widespread -- to involve other students and/or to cover more than one assignment or test -- then all students involved will receive "F" grades for the course and will be brought to the GBC Academic Officers for prosecution. I will normally recommend that students found guilty in that instance be placed on one year disciplinary probation.

Course Schedule:

Keep up with the course schedule. If you get behind it may prove difficult to catch up.

Week Topics and Readings
Week 1 What is Ethnicity? PN&S, chapters 1 - 2
Week 2 The Greek Republic(s) Republic, books I, II, V
Week 3 The Greek Republic(s)
Part Two
Republic, books VII - IX
Week 4 The Concept of Nation PN&S, chapters 3 - 4
Week 5 Religious States Excerpts from the Bible
Week 6 Religion and State Q&W, Introduction, chapters 1 - 2
Week 7 Women in Societies Q&W, chapter 4;
"Tragedy of Women's Emancipation"
Excerpts from the Bible
Week 8 Socialism and Communism "Manifesto of the Communist Party"
Week 9 Socialism vs. Capitalism "May Day"
"The Proletariat and the Revolution
"...Rights of the Working..."
Week 10 Nationalism and National Identity PN&S, chapters 5 - 6
Week 11 Foundations of American Society "...View of the Rights of British America"
"Live Free or Die"
"The Rights of Man
Declaration of Independence
America, chapter 2
Week 12 National Identity in Multicultural Society PN&S, chapter 7
America, chapters 3 - 5
Week 13 Self-Determination and Society PN&S, chapters 8 - 9
Week 14 US Conservative Ideology Common Sense, chapters 1 - 6
Week 15 US Liberal Ideology Conscience of a Liberal, chapters 1, 3 - 5, 8, 10

Online readings will supplement most weeks' material.

The course ends at 5PM on the Monday of week 16.

Initial Contact With Your Instructor:

This class is accessed from the Internet. Therefore, there has to be some initial contact. I need to have you send me an e-mail message telling me you are ready to begin, and you need to do this by 5PM on the Friday of week 1. If you need to find some help to get started, you can always e-mail or phone me at the college building.

Getting started:

  1. Purchase the books ahead of time. If you are not in Elko, it may take up to ten days to get your books.
  2. Be sure that you have access to the Internet.
  3. Make sure the course is listed in your WebCampus account.
  4. Retrieve your first lesson, which will be posted as a web page (you'll find a link in the Course Calendar in WebCampus). If you have access to WebCampus but cannot get to the lesson by Friday of week 1, write to me via e-mail!
  5. Read the material for week 1 and comment to the list about it.
  6. As you finish the assignments, e-mail me, telling me that you have completed them (so that I will know to expect them soon).
  7. You should wait until the due dates are approaching to mail the papers, (see above).
  8. NOTE: Discussion topics will be mentioned at least once per week. If the class is to work properly, please do not stray "off topic." Do not be afraid to state your honest opinion.
  9. The Instructor may choose to participate in the discussion, taking one side or more than one side of the various issues, often raising questions for further discussion and reflection. Therefore, do not be concerned about disagreeing with the instructor on opinion issues, or with other students.
Good luck!

All lessons are © 2005, 2014 Frank Daniels
and are Licensed to Great Basin College