M.A. in Political Science

Political Theory Reading List

Objective:  The objective of the M.A. Program in Political Theory is to develop the student's competence to handle the basic ideas, concepts and problems of many of the major political thinkers.  Because students are candidates for an advanced degree, they are required to have a thorough familiarity with the breadth of the field -- classical and medieval, modern, and American political thought.  This reading list provides an irreducible minimum knowledge of specific secondary sources and commentaries to accomplish this objective. 

Concentration:  Additionally, the candidate will select an area of concentration in Political Theory.  The concentrations in Political Theory are: 

      (1) Classical Political Thought 
      (2) Modern Political Theory 
      (3) American Political Thought 
      (4) Post-Modern Political Theory
    Every student should notify the Graduate Advisor of the concentration selected by the time of registration for the comprehensive examination.  In the concentration of the student's choice several original works are required.  This reading list designates these required readings under the appropriate concentrations.
Concepts and Approaches to the Study of Politics:  Finally, a candidate for the advanced degree is required to know something of the nature of theorizing and of the major concepts and approaches to the study of politics during the evolution of the academic discipline of Political Science.  This minimal reading list specifies the references for which the student will be held accountable. 

Summary of Requirements and Responsibilities:

I. The Nature of Political Theory and Theorizing and the Development of Approaches and Concepts in the Discipline of Political Science: All candidates are responsible for this area. 

II. General History of Political Theory: All candidates are responsibile for the breadth-of-field (classical and medieval, modern, and American thought) through specific secondary sources and commentaries. 

III. Area of Concentration: Political Theory candidates are required to select one area of concentration (A, B, C, or D) and to notify the graduate adviser of the selection. 

Areas of Concentration offered:

      A. American Political Thought 
      B. Classical Political Philosophy 
      C. Modern Political Theory 
      D. Post-Modern Political Theory

Political Theory

I. The Nature of Political Theory and the Discipline of Political  Science

    • Required Reading:

    • 1. Isaak, Alan,  Scope and Methods of Political Science
      2. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (rev. ed.) 
      3. Zuckerman,  Alan, Doing Political Science: An Introduction to Political Analysis
The readings in this section are designed to give you the background necessary to answer the Nature of Theory and Discipline questions on the comprehensive examination.  You will be expected to demonstrate knowledge of the difference between normative and empirical political  theory, and you should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of the major historical periods of development and the movements within the discipline of political science.  Each student should expect to discuss such issues as the following: 
    A. Distinctions between fact, value, and logic
      1. Scientific Value Relativism 
      2. Issues of science and ideology, including "value-free" study of politics and arguments that  the structure of 'scientific' studies in politics contains inherent conservative biases.
    B. Traditional Approaches vs. Behavioral Approaches in Political Science.  Citation of leading proponents of each approach during the heyday of the dispute.
      1. Strengths and limitations of traditional approach 
      2. Strengths and limitation of scientific approach
    C. Why precursors to the modern scientific approach to the study of politics, such as Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Marx, and early figures in the history of the discipline of political science, failed to develop a "science" of politics.

II. General History of Political Theory

In the General History of Political Theory students are expected to know the central concepts and arguments of the major political theorists.   In preparing to respond to questions on the major theorists students should emphasize the exploration of the concepts, logics, and arguments .... i.e. .... aspects of the theories which stand somewhat independent from a consideration of their places in the evolution of political thought.  However, students should be prepared to trace the evolution and developments of specific concepts in Western political theory and to describe the range of differences in the definitions of major concepts.  For example, the concepts of law, the State, society, the nature of the individual, Natural Law/Laws of Nature, property, the sources of authority, the bases of power, limited government, representative government, materialism,  and idealism. 

    A. European Political Theorists:
    • 1.  Major theorists in the Western European tradition, for purposes of the comprehensive examination, are: Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Burke, Bentham, J.S. Mill, Marx, Nietsche.
    • 2.  Students should also be able to identify a variety of important but lesser figures in the history of Western political thought in addition to the major theorists, and they should be able to identify these thinkers and briefly describe their contributions to the evolution of political theory. Other theorists or works with whom students should be familiar are:  Sophists, The Stoics, Epicureans, Cynics, Cicero, Martin Luther, The Anabaptists, John Calvin, Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, Jean Bodin, Johannes Althusius, Hugo Grotius, The Levellers, The Diggers, James Harrington, Spinoza, Montesquieu, The Physiocrats, Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Thomas Robert Malthus, William Godwin, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mikhail Bakunin, P.-J. Proud'hon, Herbert Spencer, Thomas Hill Green, Sigmund Freud, Gaetano Mosca, Vilfredo Pareto, Vladimir Lenin, Max Weber, Roberto Michels.
    • 3. Required Reading in European Political Thought
      • a. Select ONE from (1) or (2):
      • (1) Sabine, George H. and Thomas Landon Thorson, A History of Political Theory (4th ed.) 
        (2) Sibley, Mulford Q., Political Ideas and Ideologies
      • b.  Lee C. McDonald, Western Political Theory: The Modern Age, Chapter 12, "Hegel"
    B. American Political Theorists:
      1. While American political thinkers should be considered within the context of Modern Western political thought, there are some major theorists and some noteworthy American political thinkers with which students should be familiar. Among the major American theorists and documents are:  John Winthrop, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, The Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, The Antifederalists, The Philadelphia Convention, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph W. Emerson, Alexis De Tocqueville, John C. Calhoun, Elizabeth C. Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Fuller, Walt Whitman, Edward Bellamy, Henry George, Lester Ward, William G. Sumner, W. E. B. Dubois, Woodrow Wilson, Thorstein Veblen, John Dewey, Walter Lippmann, John Kenneth Galbraith, Martin L. King, Jr., C. Wright Mills, and Robert A. Dahl. 

      2.  Required Reading in American Political Thought: Grimes, Alan, American Political Thought or Dolbeare, Kenneth M., American Political Thought

III. Areas of Concentration in Political Theory:

In the area of their particular concentrations all students should be able to evidence a depth of knowledge based on the original readings required by their particular concentration. They should be able to respond to questions which call for extensive analysis of issues in these original works and be able to relate the treatment of issues in one work to those in the others. Put another way, in the area of concentration the student is expected to answer descriptive questions....i.e.....questions which require an accurate account of a theory...., to answer comparative questions....i.e..... questions which require comparing and contrasting theorists or concepts...., and, to answer analytic questions....i.e.....questions which pose a problem or a hypothetic situation which the student analyzes or questions which call for tracing the development of a major idea such as the State or Natural Law.  In answering analytic questions students should draw upon both their knowledge of the general history of political theory and on the original readings of their areas of concentration. 

Students are encouraged to consult with instructors who teach in the theory areas about references and interpretations well in advance of the quarter in which they take the comprehensive examination. 

Select ONE Area of Concentration only:

    A. Classical Political Thought
    • Required Reading:
    • 1. Plato, Republic
    • 2. Aristotle, Politics and Nicomachean Ethics
    B. Modern Political Thought
    • 1. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (Books I & II)
    • 2. John Locke, The Second Treatise on Government
    • 3. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract and Discourse on Inequality
    • 4. Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (Part One [all], Part Two [I [all], II [1 & 2], III [1], IV [all]], V [1-4])
    • 5. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
    • 6.  Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto
    • 7. Karl Marx, Das Kapital (Capital)
    C. American Political Thought
    • 1. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison, The Federalist Papers
    • 2. Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America Vol 1, Chapters IV, IX, XII, XIV, XVII; Vol. 2, Book 1:Chapters I-V,VIII-X, Book 2: Chapters I-XX, Book 3: Chapters I-VIII, XI-XIII, XV and Book 4: Chapters I-VIII
    • 3. Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
    • 4. Walter Lippmann, The Public Philosophy
    • 5. John C. Calhoun, A Disquisition on Government
    • 6. Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class
    • 7. C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite
    • 8. Robert A. Dahl, A Preface to Democratic Theory
    D. Post-Modern Political Theory
    • 1. Richard Bernstein, The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory
    • 2. Michel Foucault, The Order of Things
    • 3. David Rubinstein, Marx and Wittgenstein
    • 4. Quentin Skinner, The Return of Grand Theory in the Human Sciences
    • 5. Michael Shapiro,  Language and Politics