Professor Michael Munger
WF 10:05-11:20 (Art 04) Perkins 421
Class Home Page: Go to http://www.duke.edu/~munger/ and click on “courses”
What does it mean to be free? What is the good society? How have ideas been used to organize societies and allocate resources? Two alternative approaches can be labeled the normative and the engineering, respectively. The normative asks the question: what is the good society? How is that society organized? What ideas of the "good" are embodied in different institutions of government, and exchange? Do ideas "matter" in any important sense, or are there evolutionary forces that drive societies in ways that are complex and independent of ideas. This course will allow students to confront a variety of ideas for "organizing" society, ranging from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged to Thomas More's Utopia and Augustin's City of God. A special emphasis will be placed on examining the conflicts between "spontaneous" order arising from markets and competitive democracy; "planned" order arising from socialism; and "ordained" order arising from religious law.
In this course we will read selectively some of the great works on both sides of this question. No definitive answers will be reached, but we will concentrate on three sets of questions in considering each reading.
Ethical foundation: What does this writer believe is the essence of the ideal place of the citizen in the society?
Dialogue with other work: In this scheme, are the most important restraints on liberty external and hierarchical, or internal results of spontaneous, voluntary actions? How does the writer answer potential counterarguments from other points of view?
Evaluation: Is the blueprint that this writer creates for
society workable? What techniques of quantitative analysis, including
study of data available from published sources, would allow us to evaluate this
conception of society?
two page evaluations of arguments we have read, and talked about, in
class. At first, this “two page” business may seem easy, but it is bad
news, trust me. It is very difficult to make a useful, complete argument
in just two pages (600 words). Specific topic “questions” will be
suggested, but the particular point you choose to write on will be up to you.
Grades for this class will be derived from the students performance on a midterm exam, a final exam, and four two-page papers, as well as class participation. These will have the following weights:
1. Final Exam: 40%
Essay format, in scheduled exam period (Monday, December 8, - ).
2. 7 2-page papers 42%
These papers will be graded very aggressively, on both content and style. Must be typed.
3. Class participation: 18%
Ask or answer questions! Students are expected to have done the reading before class.
(available at Bookstore in
Foundation and Empire
(August 25, 27):
Nature of Humans: The Idea of Free Will
1. Paul’s “Letter to the Romans” http://ebible.org/bible/web/Romans.htm
2. Society of Natural Science: http://www.determinism.com/definition.shtml
3. John Calvin, “Free Will and Predestination,” from Institutes of the Christian Religion. (1537)
4. Ivar Ekelund, Mathematics and the Unexpected, Chapter 1 (e-reserves)
5. The Three Body Problem and Chaos http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/CHAOS.html
6. St. Augustin of
Hippo, City of
Book V (Fate and Free Will) http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120105.htm
VIII (Death is Penal) http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120113.htm
(September 1 and 8) (No class on Sept 3!):
The Purpose and Limits of Government
1) Isaac Asimov, Foundation (Book 1: Foundation)
2) Selections from The Federalist:
“About the Federalist” http://lcweb2.loc.gov/const/fed/abt_fedpapers.html
Federalist #10 http://lcweb2.loc.gov/const/fed/fed_10.html
Federalist #51 http://lcweb2.loc.gov/const/fed/fed_51.html
5) McDonald, Novus
Ordo Seclorum, entire
(September 10 and 15):
The Good Society: Who Rules? Who Serves?
1) Isaac Asimov, Foundation (Book 2: Foundation & Empire)
2) Plato’s Apology, http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html
3) Plato’s Crito, http://plato.evansville.edu/texts/jowett/crito.htm
4) Plato’s Dialogues, “The Republic:” Sections 22-29 (stanza 471c to stanza 521b)
PAPER #1: Due Wednesday, September 22
Topic: Assume you are Crito. Take up at the end
of the Dialogue, and convince Socrates to
leave with you.
(September 17, 22, 24, and 29):
Slaves and Monarchs, Constitutions and Contracts:
“Covenants, Without the Sword, Are But Words”
1. Aristotle’s Politics http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/politics.html
2. Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, Parts I
and II (Chapter 1 to Chapter 31, inclusive)
3. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.
PAPER #2: Due Friday, October 1
Topic: What is the “good society”? Compare and contrast the visions of ANY TWO
of the following visions of the good society:
(October 1, 6, 8, and 13):
Unit of Analysis: What is the “good”, and whose is it?
1) Isaac Asimov, Foundation (Book 3: Second Foundation)
2) Nicolò Machiavelli,
The Prince, http://www.constitution.org/mac/prince00.htm
3) Sun Tzu, Art of War,
Chapter I, “Laying Plans”
Chapter II, “Waging War”
Chapter XII, “The Attack by Fire”
4) Thomas Aquinas, “Just War Theory,” Summa Theologica, Question 40
PAPER #3: Due Friday, October 15
Topic: What is the position of the nation at
war? What are the duties of the prince,
or leader, of a society involved in war?
Is it possible for war to be “just“?
(October 15, 20 and 22):
The General Will: The Paradox
1) Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s On Social Contract, Books I-IV
2) Todd Buchholz, New Ideas From Dead Economists, Chapters 6 and 11
PAPER #4: Due Wednesday, October 27
Topic: What is the moral status of property? Is property always theft? Is it never theft? When can I legitimately and morally say that something is “mine,” and harm you if you try to take it or use it?
(October 27 and 29, and November 3 ):
Markets and “Spontaneous Order”
1) Todd Buchholz, New Ideas From Dead Economists, Chapters 1-4
2) Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations,
Book I, Chapter 10
Book III, Chapter 1
Book IV, Chapter 2
4) F. A. Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” American Economic Review, v. 35, 1945: 519-530.
(November 5 and 10):
1). G. Mackie, “Ending Footbinding and Infibulation: A Convention Account.” American Sociological Review, 1996 (available on JSTOR).
2) R. A. Radford, “The Economic Organization of a POW Camp,” Economica, November 1945, 189-201. (Available on JSTOR)
3) Cycles in Decision Processes
PAPER #5: Due Friday, November 12
Topic: When are individual goals and public good in
conflict? When are they coincident? Can we predict which is which with any
(November 12 and 17):
John Stuart Mill and Freedom of Speech
1) Buchholz, New Ideas from Dead Economists, Chapter 5
2) John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Chapters I and II
Speech Codes on the College Campus: Some Resources
(November 19 and 24):
Justice, Asset Ownership, and Income Distribution
Karl Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1844, with Engels)
Swift, “A Modest Proposal” (1729)
V.I. Lenin, “What Is To Be Done?” (1902)
PAPER #6: Due Wednesday, November 24
Topic: Write a speech code for
(November 29 and December 1):
The Market, The Mind, and Hierarchy
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
PAPER #7: Due Wednesday, December 1
Topic: In “Snow Crash,” we hear of a specific form of organization of society, dictated by the market. Do you find this kind of system plausible? Are we tending toward this kind of purely privatized system? Is it good, or bad? If it is inevitable, does it matter? Could society be otherwise?
EXAM FOR THIS CLASS:
Wednesday, December 8
cannot make this exam,
you must tell Prof. Munger