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FINAL EXAM: POLITICAL THEORY (POL 335)

Dr. Robert Williams, Livingstone College

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The Instructions
This take-home final exam requires the students to write TWO typed essays, each from 3 to 5 pages in length. Properly cite theorists or texts whenever their views are referred to or quoted in the essay. "Reasonable" margins, fonts, and line spacing are to be used in each essay, but do not exceed 1-inch margins, 12-point proportional fonts, and double spacing (0.33-inch line height).

Submit a typed/printed copy of each essay to the professor on the day officially scheduled for the course's final exam.



All students MUST write an essay on this topic.
Socrates/Plato and John Stuart Mill present different views on the relationship between political liberty and political (or governmental) authority. Explain their differences, especially with regard to their contrasting views on freedom of expression. (Although Plato does not employ that term, his treatment of poetry in The Republic bears on the topic). Also, address why each thinker holds his particular position, and identify some of the situations under which freedom of expression can be, or should be, abridged by government.


Choose any ONE of the following three topics on which to write an essay.
A.   Political theorists often spend much time and energy justifying the foundations of the polity. A recurring theme asks whether the polity in its origins is natural (found/given in nature) or else societal (arising artificially from the interactions of humans). On the origins of the polity please compare the views of one "Ancient" philosopher (either Sophocles or Socrates/Plato) with one "Modern" philosopher (either Hobbes or Locke or Marx).

B.   Machiavelli’s The Prince is often depicted as advocating the use of "power politics." How might the Socrates of The Republic respond to Machiavelli on the appropriate use of political power within a polity? (That is, in your essay specify Machiavelli’s views on the use of power by a prince. Then indicate Socrates’ position on the role played by power in the just polity, detailing how it differs from Machiavelli.) Note: the other writings on Socrates’ philosophy, like the "Apology" or "Crito," may be cited; however, The Republic must be the main source used.

C.   Political philosophers implicitly or explicitly consider that a political order must serve some set of goals, whether the promotion of human excellence, individual interests, or the (rightful) domination of one group over others. Compare and contrast two theorists on the "proper" goals/ends/purposes which polities are supposed to uphold. Select any two of the following thinkers to discuss in your essay: Socrates/Plato, Hobbes, or Locke.


Last updated: November 27, 1998


NOTE: To return to the Political Theory syllabus from which you initially
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[ Prof. Williams' homepage ]