Political Science 331: American Political Thought
Prof. Scott Yenor
T TH 10:40-11:55, Engineering Building 103
Office Hours: M 4-5:30, T TH 9-10:30 am, and by appointment
Office ERB 1
One famous scholar from the mid-twentieth century rightly claimed that America’s was a
It is a liberal tradition, however, that would best be understood as a
tradition of liberalisms, of differing ideas of what it means to be liberal.
In fact, I would
submit that the differences among our liberal traditions are the American liberal tradition.
These traditions differ on the meaning of property, the probable locus of tyranny, the
proper structure of government, the goodness of centralized government, the centrality of
self-government, and the nature of liberty.
Identifying what the differences are and why
they arose is one of the main goals of this course.
But if this is all we accomplish, we
will have not done enough.
The ultimate aim of this course is to decide whether the
difference liberal traditions represent a progressive development or a fall from grace,
whether contemporary conceptions are superior to classical conceptions of liberty.
, Editor Clinton Rossiter and Charles Kesler.
Abraham Lincoln, His Speeches and Writings
, Editor Roy Basler
John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action
American Progressivism: A Reader
, Editors RJ Pestritto and William Atto (Lexington)
Standards of Behavior
As there is often confusion about the proper etiquette in class, I want to make my
approach to these things clear as it is essential to make our time together efficient and
Students must silence their cell phones in class and no computers are
allowed during class times.
All notes are to be taken by hand, and I recommend that you
take the notes in common place books, which I will collect at the end of the course and
will serve as part of your participation grade.
The reason for this is that computers are
often put to bad use in the class—and this distracts those in the course.
are allowed three unexcused absences from class, and the professor will be taking roll at
various times of the class period.
Any absences in excess of three will result in a penalty
of one letter grade per class period.
The professor promulgates these rules for the benefit
of creating a learning environment that will benefit all students. It is the professor’s goal
to have all the students master the issues and complexities of American political thought
through this class and all of these policies are designed to focus our attention on these
issues during our time together.
This means that the course will, in the final analysis, be
intellectually rewarding and fun and that it will require effort and dedication from the
Also in the interest of creating an environment conducive to learning, I ask that
all students wear clothing appropriate to such a learning environment.