Friday, December 09, 2005

Study Group?

If any of you want to use this blog to arrange a study group, feel free to use this thread.

Thanks all for a great quarter.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Final Exam, cont.

A few things first:

1) This exam is comprehensive.

2) This exam will include several choices. There will be two essays that should be answered with 3-5 paragraphs, and one essay that will be answered with one paragraph. A "full length" paragraph for the purposes of this exam should be 5-10 sentences.

3) The first essay will be a choice between two different questions. One question will deal with The Racial Contract; the other will deal with Globalism.

4) The second essay will deal with major themes in the course, and will require that you discuss and compare different ideologies. There will be two, possibly three options for this essay, and each question will contain some degree of choice about whto write about within the question.

5) The third essay, a short answer question, will not involve any choice--everyone will write on the same topic.

6) This exam is worth 100 points. The point distribution will look like this: 50 for the first essay, 40 for the second, 10 for the third.

7) The translation from points to GPA grade will look something like this: 95+ A (4.0), 80 B( 3.0) 65 C (2.0), 50 D (1.0), with the in between numbers filling in the gaps.

Here are some questions that are similar in style and content to the ones you might encounter for the first and second essays. Remember--while these probably will not appear on the exam, if I decide I really like one of them I reserve the right to include it.

Take the perspective of a liberal political theorist, and give a response to Charles Mills argument in The Racial Contract. Choose a few specific issues to consider.

Many have criticized Mills The Racial Contract for not adequately suggesting what should be done in light of this analysis. Choose two ideological perspectives, and give an account of how they might address the problem of the racial contract (assuming, for the purposes of this paper, that Mills version of the problem is persuasive).

What are the different 'dimensions' of the racial contract? Describe each one, with specific examples, noting how they might reinforce each other.

What is the connection between the ideology of "globalism" and the liberal political ideology? Is globalism better understood as a logical outgrowth of liberal ideology or a distortion of it?

How has globalization reshaped the landscape of political ideologies, according to Steger?

How important are the rights of the individual to each of the four ideologies we studied? Rank the four ideologies--from most concerned with individual rights to least--giving your reasons for each placement.

Identify and discuss one important philosophical disagreement between liberals. Be sure to discuss the views of at least two specific authors.

"Strong Democracy represents a middle ground between the absolutist views on private property found in liberalism and Marxism." Do you agree? Why or why not? Be clear about what the understanding of property is in each of these theories.

We all know liberals are strong defenders of freedom of speech--discuss how you think two of the other three ideologies we've studied would be inclined to think about free speech--how much of it we should have, how free it should be, etc.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

reading next week

So the truncated reading of Globalism goes like this:

Tuesday: Read ch. 1, 3. Spend a very short amount of time very quickly skimming ch. 2.

Thursday: Read. ch. 4 and 6 (5 optional)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Final Exam: preliminary post

Logistics: We'll meet on Tuesday of finals week: (December 13) at the regular time, 8:45. I'll write an exam that I expect will take the average student about 90 minutes, so most slower writers won't have a significant disadvantage--you're welcome to use 125 minutes. The exam will be essay questions, so bring an exam book. The exam will be comprehensive. It will be structured in a way that requires you to write about either Mills Racial Contract or Steger's Globalism (amongst, of course, other things). I will either ask you to write one long essay and a few short ones of two longer essays (and maybe something really short as well).

As for information, study guides, etc.

Here are two options.

Option 1: I post several "sample questions" that are similar in structure and content to the ones I will ask, but are not, in fact, the questions that will appear on the exam. On the exam itself, there will be a non-trivial amount of choice about what ideology and what theorists you write about, sometimes within a question (example: compare one liberal and one conservative or Strong D. thinker on issue X), or between more specific questions.

Option 2: I give you a list of questions that I'll choose from for the longer essay questions. You'll have some of those essays to answer on the exam, but you'll have no choices--you'll have to answer the ones I choose. Also, once I post the exam questions, I'll offer only the most general help in formulating answers--they'll be posted after a review session, and you'll be more or less on your own in formulating answers. I'll probably post 6 or 7 questions, and you'll write on two. (I might also put a short answer on this exam that you won't know about in advance, but that'll be worth no more than 10% of the exam). Given that you have the precise questions in advance, my expectations would be modestly (but not significantly) higher.

I'm willing to go with a democratic decision here, and I'll tell you that the distribution of grades will probably be similar no matter which way you choose. We won't have much class time to devote to Rousseau/Barber style deliberation about this decision, so we'll have to go with a more liberal version of democracy--voting, taking the majority preference. Rousseau is too hard to please anyway.

I'd recommend option 1, personally--option 2 leads to unnecessary overpreparation and the questions I do ask will deal with major course themes and won't contain any sneaky tricks or questions that highlight minor details. Anyone who has been doing the readings, attending class, and spending some time just thinking about this stuff should do fine with a bit of review.

Feel free to use this discussion thread for two things. 1) Making the case for option 1 or 2 (we'll vote in class on Thursday), or 2) Asking me any further questions about what to expect on the exam.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

paper topics, second analytic essay

Same as before: 4-5 pages double-spaced, thesis-driven analytic essay.

Option 1:
Can Marxism be reconciled with a version of liberalism? Be sure to include and discuss arguments on both sides of this debate--your paper should discuss and consider strong arguments that conflict with your position and why they fall short.

Option 2:
Is Michael Walzer correct that "industrial democracy" is just as implied by the principle of democracy as political democracy? Why or why not? (as with option 1, do consider and evaluate strong arguments against your position).

Option 3:
Your own topic! Related to major themes in the course. The question must be submitted to me via email--or as a comment in this thread by class next Tuesday (11/29). I will either a) approve it, b) reject it, or c) modify it slightly and approve it. (c) is the most likely outcome.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Walzer on workplace democracy

Erin sent me a link to a very nice piece that rethinks Walzer's commitment to workplace democracy. It's a pretty sophisticated argument, and on a quick reading, I find several sections of it partially persuasive (yes, I'm refusing to commit one way or the other. I'll need to think about this). The article discusses how Walzer's commitment to workplace democracy relates to his larger theory of "complex equality" which you didn't read about but I did discuss briefly, but the author does an excellent job of summarizing these issues. If this you need some serious political theory to get through Thanksgiving, check it out here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Grade conversions

For the paper, and both future papers:

A 4.0
A- 3.75
A-/B+ 3.5
B+ 3.25
B 3.0
B- 2.75
B-/c+ 2.5
C+ 2.25
C 2.0
C- 1.75
C-/D+ 1.5
D+ 1.25
D 1.0
D- .75
F 0