Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Units: 4
Hours: 4 lecture per week (48 total per quarter)
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Area I: Humanities
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Identify significant political theories held by major philosophers (ex. Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Hegel etc.) and/or philosophic schools of thought.
  • Explain and evaluate historically important philosophical arguments regarding aspects of political theory.


Social and political philosophies of classical, modern and contemporary thinkers. Issues of concern to include the justification and structure of the political state, constitution of government, individual rights and distribution of wealth.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. analyze a variety of problems in political philosophy from several points of view.
B. demonstrate understanding varying conceptions and justifications of political states.
C. evaluate varying conceptions of just distributions of social good.

Course Content

A. Human nature and the State.
1. The State of nature.
a. Aristotle.
b. Locke.
c. Hobbes.
d. Montesquieu.
e. Rousseau.
f. Marx.
g. Darwin.
2. The role of women in the State.
a. Plato.
b. Aristotle.
c. Rousseau.
d. Wollstonecraft.
e. Mill.
f. Gilligan.
g. Jagger.
B. Justification of the State.
1. Defining the State.
a. Locke.
2. Social contract.
a. Hobbes.
b. Locke.
c. Rousseau.
d. Kant.
3. Contrary views on the social contract.
a. Hume.
b. Bentham.
c. Hegel.
4. Anarchy.
a. Bakunin.
5. Civil disobedience.
a. Plato.
b. Thoreau.
c. King.
d. Rawls.
C. Democracy and its potential problems.
1. Democratic ideals.
a. Rousseau.
b. Kant.
c. Mill.
d. Rawls.
2. Against democracy.
a. Plato.
b. Frederick the great and the concept of enlightened despotism.
3. Dangers of democracy.
a. Aristotle.
b. Madison.
c. De Tocqueville.
4. Separation of powers.
a. Locke.
b. Montesquieu.
D. Economic justice.
1. Private property.
a. Locke and labor-based property theory.
b. Rousseau.
c. Hegel.
d. Marx.
e. Nozick.
2. The market.
a. Smith and the free market.
b. Marxist response to capitalist free market.
c. Friedman.
3. Distributive justice.
a. Aristotle.
b. Hume.
c. Marx.
d. Rawls.
e. Nozick.
E. Justice among groups.
1. War and peace.
a. Kant.
b. Cobden.
c. Walzer.
d. Nagel.
2. Nationalism.
a. Berlin.
b. Macintyre.
3. Minority rights.
a. Affirmative action.
b. Secessionist movements.
4. International justice.
a. Famine.
1. Singer.
2. O'neill.

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment


Method(s) of Evaluation

A. Examinations.
B. Quizzes.
C. Essays.
D. Term papers.
E. Reading responses.

Method(s) of Instruction

Lecture, Discussion, Cooperative learning exercises, Oral presentations.

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Cahn, Stephen M. Political Philosophy: The Essential Texts. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Wolff, Jonathan and Michael Rosen. Political Thought. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.


Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

A. Readings to be selected from primary and secondary philosophic literature.

B. Written responses to study questions as a means to focus attention on key concepts.

C. Written analysis of political policies and/or systems that allows for application of political theory.