Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
PHL 208
Course Title:
Political Philosophy
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduction to and analysis of political theories and concepts through study of the works of major figures in the history of political philosophy from Plato to the present. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Students completing this course should be able to:

  • Recognize and reflect on philosophical assumptions about political issues that are embedded in one€™s own ideas about politics in order to evaluate political ideas that permeate our culture.
  • Identify and explain the contributions of major figures in political philosophy to contemporary political discussions and to contemporary political institutions in order to define one€™s responsibility within a political community.
  • Recognize and reflect on the historical interconnectedness of political philosophers€™ ideas in order to respectfully communicate with others whose political opinions might differ from one€™s own.
  • Critically read and think about contemporary and classic political debates in order to analyze political arguments and discussions.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies will include some of the following:

  •  Essays in the form of in-class exams, short papers, and term papers
  • Short-answer exams
  • Student presentations 
  • Class and small group discussions
  • Portfolios
  • Service Learning projects
  • Attendance

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

The course will focus on some or all of the following topics and issues as they apply to philosophical concerns that arise in the political context:

  • Philosophical perspectives on politics
  • The contributions of significant philosophers (including but not limited to some of the following: Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Augustine, Hobbes, Locke, J. S. Mill, Thomas Jefferson, Marx, Engels, Lenin)
  • The philosophy of some of the following: the polis, the cosmopolis, utilitarian liberalism, contract theory, natural rights, civil rights, justice, individualism

Competencies and Skills:

Students will learn to:

  • Comprehend philosophical writings
  • Paraphrase. illustrate, and explain ideas contained in philosophical writings
  • Critique and challenge ideas within the scope of political philosophy
  • Write philosophically coherent arguments