Philosophy 104 Ideal of Democracy Syllabus Spring 2013

Section 001 Stevenson 350A Tuesday, Thursday 11-12:15

Section 002 Stevenson 350A Tuesday, Thursday 12:35-1:50

URL ISU104sys13.htm

Dr. Jeffrey Carr email (Please include 104-01/02 in 'Subject'); Office: STV 323A, hours: T/R 10-11, 3:15 and online MW 1-2:30 and by appointment

Course Description:

Democracy has long been held as an ideal of political organization, but there is a great diversity of views concerning its nature and implications, particularly whether contemporary communities fulfill the model. What are the standards for democratic success? (Note that this is not about 'Democratic vs. Republican', nor just about America.) The course is one in philosophy, rather than political science, although factors from many academic disciplines will be relevant. We will explore the foundations of the theory of democracy from a historical and international group of authors, in an effort to define what democracy is. Then, we'll give attention to some of the key notions underpinned by such efforts at defining democracy, to some of the criticisms given of those key notions, and how the democratic ideal might be influenced in the future.

From the Department's Official Description: The purpose of The Ideal of Democracy is to think seriously and critically about the nature and moral justification of democracy and democratic institutions. Conceptions of democracy that are explicit or implicit in the civic traditions and diverse cultures in the United States will provide the primary basis for discussion, though some attention will also be paid to the origins and history of democracy and to its practice in other societies. Students will be introduced to the methodology of moral reasoning and to various conceptions of the person and of human nature that underlie ethical ideals relating to democracy. They will also see how to interpret and integrate work done in a variety of disciplines (e.g., law, economics, political science, history) that bears on the resolution of the fundamental moral questions concerning the justification of democracy that provide the unifying focus for the course. They will also be expected to think in a reasoned way about what their own responsibilities are as citizens in a democratic society.


We will gain an enhanced awareness of the nature of philosophical inquiry, its important theories concerning democracy, and the relevance of these to daily issues, including our own values and careers and political life. The critical assessment of the major views will receive great attention, in an effort to promote one's own scholarly development and moral/political commitments.


Ricardo Blaug and John Schwartzmantel, eds. Democracy: A Reader. New York: Columbia. My online notes to the text are strongly recommended, (tba on Reggienet) as they become available.

Various local and remote internet pages will be required reading (links provided here or as announced); some are recommended but not required. Almost all of the original texts are available on-line (from The LOGOS Collection of Electronic Books, the Internet Archive, or Project Gutenberg), some of which will be linked from these pages. You might find our "Vocabulary of Morality" useful.


Readings for the next class will be announced at the beginning of each class. We will generally follow the readings as they occur in the course, but will have to skip some in interests of time. The schedule for the course is filename ISU104sch13.htm; it will be posted on Reggienet in the "Course Materials" section.


As you read the assigned readings for each class, you should identify the main views of each passage, (even for each section) and why the author believes them to be true. Make as much use as possible of the features of logical analysis/conclusion that you are familiar with, particularly the technical notions: what is the conclusion? what is the argument? When you find something in the argument which is relevant to your interests, take note of it. In class, you will be asked to present your findings to the rest of us, for discussion purposes. Attendance at each lecture is important.

The greatest part of the grade will be determined by your skill at defending the different views on major issues in democratic theory. You will be expected to argue for your vuews, appealing to the comparable or contrasting views of as many as you can of the philosophers whom we have studied. You will show your skills at finding arguments within the texts, and assessing their credibility. Portraying this on exams will account for all of the course grade, based on short essay questions. Written work must show use of scholarly research, including the readings: online JStor resources are available for students connecting through some servers. Standards of proper scholarship will be required and maintained. (Hint: you could orient your note taking to content relevant to the issues of interest.). Plagiarism will be severely punished.

The course grade is based on 3 major exams, which usually give you a choice of short essay questions to answer, plus two written summaries of a reading, plus your contributions to our online discussions. Familiarity with Reggienet is required. Point scores for these assignments are given on the scorecard. Please note that instructors are legally forbidden from sending scores by email, or communicating them by telephone. Scores are generally posted on Reggienet when they become available. Also, contributing your work via email attachments must be by approval. If approved, they must be 'saved as' Word 2002 or earlier (no '.docx').

My grading sheet explains some of the marks/comments you might receive on your work, and how I calculate a number grade out of letter grades.

The Honor Code and Class Attendance standards of Illinois State University are to be honored. Homework and Class Assignments are to be turned in on time or will be lowered one letter grade for every week late.


Summary of Readings 1



Exam 1



Summary of Readings 2



Exam 2



Online discussions



Cumulative Final 6



Course grade


"Illinois State University provides a welcoming atmosphere for individuals with disabilities by assisting each in functioning independently within the University community and providing equal access and opportunity in accomplishing educational, professional and personal goals." If you need an accommodation because of a documented disability, you are required to register with Disability Concerns preferably at the beginning of the semester. Contact their Counselors at 350 Fell Hall or call (309) 438-5853 to make an appointment..

Useful and Worthy Aids to Work in Philosophy include:

How to Write Philosophy Exams, by Michael Menlowe

How to Write Philosophy Papers, by Ronald Hepburn

How to Write Philosophy Papers, by Doug Mann

How to Write Philosophy Papers, by James Pryor

Other Links


Go to Jeffrey Carr's Page

Go to the ISU Homepage

January, 2013