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PHILOS 2S03 History:PoliticalPhilosophy

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Matthew Grellette

Email: grellemj@mcmaster.ca

Office: University Hall 308

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23462


Office Hours: Wed. 11:30-12:30

Course Objectives:

Class Time: Tu/Thu/Fri - 12:30-1:20pm

Marker: Paul O’Hagan

Office: UH214

Email: ohaganp@mcmaster.ca

Course Description:

In this course we will take a tour through theoretical history in the interest of considering different accounts as to why we have political communities, why they may or may not be good things, and how they should be organized. In doing so we will be discussing topics such as human nature, the proper role of religion within our political communities, the value of human progress, and the place of economic considerations in our social life, along with many others.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Readings Will be Posted on Avenue to Learn (AL)

Method of Assessment:

Course Requirements

Cold Calls………………………….……………………5%

Weekly Response Papers………………………………10%

Take Home Exam..……………………………….…….20%


Final Exam……………………………..………………30%

Cold Calls:

During most classes, I will call on students at random. Each student will be called on at least once. I will ask questions about the course material that has been assigned for that day. The students will be graded on the basis of her demonstrated preparation for the day’s lecture. The student will receive a check-plus (100), check (75), check-minus (55), or failure to respond (0) for this portion of the grade.

Weekly Response Papers:

Students are required to hand in 10 response papers (300 words each) over the course of the term. These should seek to raise a critical point or question concerning a given week’s reading.

These must be handed in at the beginning of the class to which they pertain. No more than one response may be handed in per week. More detail will be provided in class.

Take Home Exam:

Students will be assigned an essay style take-home assignment, based on the first month’s readings. The assignment length is 1250 words. More detail will be provided in class.


Students will be assigned a set of essay questions, of which they must answer only one. The essay length is 2500 words. More detail will be provided in class.


The final exam will cover all of the material not dealt with on the mid-term. It will be comprised of both short answer and essay style questions. More detail will be provided in class.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

1. 5 marks (out of 100) will be deducted from Essay grades for every 100 words in excess of the prescribed limit.

2. 5 marks per day (out of 100) will also be deducted for late Essays. Exceptions will be made only if you have a legitimate excuse.

3 . Essays must not be submitted to the Philosophy Department Office. They must be submitted directly either during class or during office hours. You are required to keep copies (electronic or hard) of all work submitted.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Week 1: Method

Week 2: Ancient Greek Thought: Plato and Aristotle

Week 3: Middle Ages: Augustine/Aquinas

Week 4: Humanism and Realism: Pico and Machiavelli

Week 5: Religion and Tolerance: Calvin and Voltaire

Week 6: Contract Theory: Hobbes

Week 7: Contract Theory: Locke

Mid-Term Break — Feb. 20-26

Week 8: Economic Thought: Hegel and Smith

Week 9: Economic Thought: Marx

Week 10: Heterodoxy: Mill

Week 11: Conservatism: Burke

Week 12: Autonomy: Kant

Week 13: Modern Political Thought

Other Course Information:

  • The scale used by the Registrar's Office will be used to convert number grades to final letter grades.
  • Course evaluations will be done at the end of the course.