1 Morality and Politics Spring 2019 GOV351L (38270) and CTI325 (29370) MWF 1:00-1:50pm Location: RLP 0.112 Professor Dana Stauffer Teaching Assistant: Avery Williams [email protected] [email protected] 512-232-1448 Office Hours To Be Announced Course Description This course is about the choices political actors make and the situations that prompt them to make those decisions. Every human life involves making moral choices, but acting in a political context, either as a citizen or a leader, is particularly complex. Political actors must face all the questions that ordinary moral actors face, such as: Do the ends justify the means? If they don’t, what does? Is revenge just? Is it a good idea? Is honesty always the best policy? But they must also take into account a whole host of other considerations. Citizens and leaders must ask themselves what the goals of their political actions are. Are they aiming for personal power and glory? Or for the common good? Or some combination of the two? About half the course will consist of a close reading of two great philosophers who take up questions of the relation of moral virtue to the human good, both for individuals and political communities: Aristotle and Machiavelli. We will read selections from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Politics . And we will read all or almost all of Machiavelli’s Prince . The other half of the course is devoted to plays and novels that present political actors confronted with particular political dilemmas. Specific questions that will come under discussion include: What are legitimate grounds for starting a war? Should politicians keep their promises? What should political communities reward in their citizens, and why? The broad question under examination throughout will be the relationship of moral virtue to political life. 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. Required Texts:
2 1. Cato : A Tragedy and Selected Essays . By Joseph Addison. Edited by Christine Dunn Henderson and Mark E. Yellin. Liberty Fund. 2. Darkness at Noon . By Arthur Koestler. Bantam Books. 3. Euripides II. By Euripides. Edited by David Grene and Richmond Lattimore. Complete Greek Tragedies Series. University of Chicago Press.