University of Florida
Department of Political Science

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POT 3302 Honors

POT 6505


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Daniel I. O'Neill
Associate Professor
Anderson Hall, Room 334
(352) 273-2386

Office hours

POT 3302 Political Ideologies (Honors), Fall 2007

Dan O'Neill                                                              
tel. 392-0262 x274
Office: Anderson 311
Hours: M, W: 9.30-11.30; T, Th: 9:30-10:30


The British economist John Maynard Keynes once famously claimed that, in the last analysis, little else than the ideas of political philosophers and economists rules the world.  Keynes believed that so-called “practical men,” who believe that they are exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually simply repeating as their own the ideas of some earlier thinker; so, too, “madmen in authority” who think that they hear the unique voice of inspiration are in fact usually “distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”  Keynes pointed out a hard truth: there is no escaping from political ideology for any of us.  Against the backdrop of such a realization, the purpose of this course is twofold.  First, and more broadly, it will examine the historical development and contemporary manifestation of a variety of political belief systems in the United States.  Second, and more specifically, the course aims to confront you with a wide range of ideological alternatives for critical consideration, precisely so that you can understand what ideology (or ideologies) you currently believe in, why you believe what you do, and how best to defend your beliefs (if at the end of the day you still think that they are worth defending at all).  Put a bit differently, the purpose of the course is to critically analyze the most salient political ideologies in America by reading, thinking, talking, and writing in depth about them.  As such, it necessarily holds open the possibility that what students believe on the first day of class might not necessarily be what they believe on the last.  After all, while ideological commitments cannot disappear, they are subject to change.


There is an extensive Reader (in two volumes) available from Orange and Blue Textbooks.


  • Grading: Grades for the course will be determined by several components: two 8-10 page papers (25% each); a course final (30%); and class attendance and participation (20%).  The highest grade a late paper can receive in the absence of a legitimate excuse is a “C+.”  An example of a legitimate excuse would be an illness for which you have a signed doctor’s note.  Please be aware: A “C+” is not the lowest grade a late paper can receive; it is the highest (i.e., it is the ceiling, not the floor).  You have plenty of time to write the papers; do not wait until the last minute.  Due dates for the papers are listed below.  Prior to the first paper, I will hand out guidelines that spell out my expectations concerning them.  The final (December 13) will be entirely essay based; the questions will be distributed in advance, on the last day of class for the semester. 
  • Preparation: You will notice that the portion of your grade comprised by attendance and active participation is rather high.  That is by design.  Attendance will be taken regularly.  This course is reading intensive (averaging roughly 100 pp. per week).  In every class meeting, I will lecture for some period of time; after that, we will discuss the assigned readings.  You must do the reading to be covered by a given class in advance.  If you have not done the reading beforehand, you will have little or nothing to contribute to this class.  At a self-interested level, this will hurt your grade a.) Because participation counts, and b.) Because the readings and discussion pursuant to them are meant to help you write better papers.  If you are playing catch up on the reading, you will be in trouble in this course.  At a deeper level, failure to stay up with the reading, reflect upon it, and come to class prepared to discuss it, will stunt your intellectual growth---that would be a shame.
  • Policy on Academic Integrity:  All students are required to abide by the University of Florida’s Academic Honesty Guidelines, which may be viewed at  Among other things, this means that cheating on exams is totally unacceptable, as is plagiarism.  Plagiarism is the act of portraying as your own the words or ideas of other people.  Examples include: submitting entire papers, or portions of papers, that you did not write (e.g., old papers written by other students, new papers written by other students, papers which you paid a “research” service to write for you, papers or portions of papers downloaded from the Internet). Copying verbatim or paraphrasing any substantial portion of text by another author without acknowledging the source via quotation and/or footnotes is plagiarism.  Plagiarism is far easier to spot than you might think.  I do it all the time.  Do not ruin your experience in this or any other class by engaging in academic dishonesty. 
  • Accommodations: Students with disabilities requiring academic accommodations must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation.  Please come seem me as soon as possible regarding this matter.
  • Cell phones and The Alligator: Cell phones should be turned off prior to class.  Fold the paper and put it away for the duration of the class.  

Lecture, Reading, and Discussion Schedule:

Friday, August 24:  Introduction: Discussion of Student Ideologies
Course expectations; self-identification and discussion of student ideologies (I); Reading: Start reading now!

Monday, August 27: Finish Discussing Student Ideologies; Syllabus Walk Through  Reading: Read for Next Week 

Wednesday, August 29:    A traditional reconstruction of the American ideological spectrum (Lecture); Reading: Read for Next Week

Friday, August 31: No Class (Professor at Conference)

Monday, September 3: No Class (Labor Day)

Wednesday, September 5: libertarianism, an introduction Reading: David Boaz, “The Coming Libertarian Age,” and “What Rights Do We Have?” from Libertarianism: A Primer, pp. 1-26, 59-93 

A philosophical defense of libertarianism
 Friday, September 7: Reading: Robert Nozick, “Distributive Justice,” from Anarchy, State, and Utopia, pp. 149-182

Monday, September 10:  Reading: Robert Nozick, “Equality, Envy, Exploitation, Etc.,” from Anarchy, State, and Utopia, pp. 232-246 

Wednesday, September 12: egalitarian liberalism, an introduction
Reading:  Thomas A. Spragens, Jr., “The Limitations of Libertarianism,” pp. 127-136; T.H. Green, “Liberalism and Positive Freedom,” pp. 115-118;and Ronald Dworkin, “Why Liberals Should Care about Equality,” from A Matter of Principle, pp. 205-213

A philosophical defense of egalitarian liberalism,

Friday, September 14: Reading: John Rawls, “Fundamental Ideas,” from Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, pp. 1-38

Monday, September 17:  Reading: John Rawls, “Principles of Justice,” from Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, pp. 39-79 

Wednesday, September 19:
libertarianism and capitalism
Reading: Ayn Rand, “What is Capitalism?” from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, pp. 11-34, and “Collectivized Ethics,” from The Virtue of Selfishness, pp. 93-99; Milton Friedman, from Capitalism and Freedom, pp. 125-138, 631-634; Murray Rothbard, “Libertarian Anarchism,” from For a New Liberty, pp. 123-126

Friday, September 21:  egalitarian liberalism and capitalism
Reading: Ronald Dworkin, “Equality of Resources,” from Sovereign Virtue: The Theory and Practice of Equality, pp. 65-119; Paper Topic #1 Handed Out 

The radical left

Monday, September 24:  Reading: No Reading (Lecture); Evening Movie: Manufacturing Consent (Time and Place TBA)

Wednesday, September 26:  Reading: Herbert Marcuse, from One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society, pp. xli-xlix, 1-18, and “An Essay on Liberation,” pp. 474-483

Friday, September 28: Reading: Noam Chomsky, “Equality,” from The Chomsky Reader, pp.183-202; Michael Walzer, “Town Meetings and Workers’ Control,” pp. 53-61; Tom Hayden et al (Students for a Democratic Society), “The Port Huron Statement” (excerpts), pp. 661-670


Monday, October 1:  Reading: Russell Kirk, “Ten Conservative Principles,” from The Politics of Prudence, pp. 15-29; George Will, “The Care of our Time,” and “Eternity Warning Time,” from Statecraft as Soulcraft, pp. 15-24, 140-165; Paper #1 Due at Beginning of Class 

Wednesday, October 3:  Reading: Gertrude Himmelfarb, “A Historical Prologue: The ‘Vices of Levity’ and the ‘Diseases of Democracy,” from One Nation, Two Cultures, pp. 3-29

Friday, October 5: Reading: George Will, “Conservative Political Economy,” from Statecraft as Soulcraft, pp. 122-139; James Q. Wilson, “The Rediscovery of Character: Private Virtue and Public Policy,” pp. 291-304; Gertrude Himmelfarb, and “The Two Cultures: An Ethics Gap,’” from One Nation, Two Cultures, pp. 130-141 

Monday, October 8:
the radical right: Reading: Michael Savage, “Diversity is Perversity,” “Immigrants and Epidemics: TB, Anyone?” and “Dancing on the Cultural Abyss: Red Diaper Doper Babies Rule!” from The Savage Nation, pp. 19-25, 119-179

Wednesday, October 10: religion and American political ideology Reading: Richard John Neuhaus, “ A New Order of Religious Freedom,” pp. 385-394; Ralph Reed, “A Religious Conservative Vision for America,” from Politically Incorrect: The Emerging Faith Factor in American Politics, pp. 178-187; Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore, “The Godless Constitution,” from The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness, pp. 26-45 


Friday, October 12:  Reading: Jane Mansbridge and Susan Moller Okin, “Feminism,” from A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, pp. 269-290; Marilyn Frye, “Oppression,” pp. 365-372

Monday, October 15:  Reading: Carole Pateman, “Genesis, Fathers, and the Political Liberty of Sons,” from The Sexual Contract, pp. 77-115 

race and the case of reparations for African Americans

Wednesday, October 17: Reading: Charles Mills, The Racial Contract, pp. 1-40

Friday, October 19: Reading: Randall Robinson, “Introduction,” and “Thoughts About Restitution,” from The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks, pp. 1-10, 199-234; David Horowitz, “Reparations and the American Idea,”  from Uncivil Wars: The Controversy over Reparations for Slavery, pp. 103-137

Monday, October 22:  perspectives  on the “browning” of America Reading: “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan,” pp. 1-2; Richard Rodriguez, from Brown: The Last Discovery of America, pp. 103-143

Wednesday, October 24: the case of Native Americans Reading:  Dee Brown, from Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, pp. 1-11, 327-353; The American Indian Movement (AIM), “Preamble to Trail of Broken Treaties 20-Point Position Paper,” pp. 1-8; Vine Deloria, “The New Individualism,”  from We Talk, You Listen, pp. 767-773

Friday, October 26: gay liberation Reading: John Corvino, “Homosexuality: The Nature and Harm Arguments,” pp. 374-381; Paper # 2 Handed Out 

Monday, October 29:  “speciesism” Reading: Peter Singer, “All Animals Are Equal,” pp. 395-404


Wednesday, October 31: Reading: Bill McKibben, from The End of Nature, pp. xv-xxv, 47-91

Evening Movie: What’s Up With the Weather? (Time and Place TBA)

Friday, November 2: No Class (Homecoming) 

Monday, November 5: Reading: Leslie Paul Thiele, “The Challenge of Coevolution,” from Environmentalism for a New Millennium, pp. 30-61; Dave Foreman, “Putting the Earth First,” from Confessions of an Eco-Warrior, pp. 427-432

Wednesday, November 7:  Discussion of Environmentalism Reading: No reading; Paper #2 Due 

Friday, November 9: America in Iraq: An ideology? And, if so, of what?

Discussion of War in Iraq (I) (No Reading) 

Monday, November 12: No Class (Veterans Day)

Wednesday, November 14:  Reading: Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?” 

Friday, November 16:  Reading: Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations”; “Project for a New American Century: Statement of Principles”

Monday, November 19:  Reading: Benjamin Barber, “Terrorism’s Challenge to Democracy,” from Jihad vs. McWorld, pp. xi-xxxii 

Wednesday, November 21: Reading: David Frum and Richard Perle, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, pp. 15-50. 125-164, 236-264

Friday, November 23: No Class (Thanksgiving Break) 

Monday, November 26: Reading: Chalmers Johnson, from Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, pp. ix-xxii, 3-33; Benjamin Barber, from Fear’s Empire, pp. 15-50

Wednesday, November 28:   Reading: Noam Chomsky, from Power ant Terror, pp. 45-87 

Friday, November 30: Discussion of War in Iraq (II) (No Reading)

Monday, December 3:  Self-Identification of Student Ideologies (II) (No Reading) 

Wednesday, December 5: Conclusion (Final Exam Questions Handed Out)

FINAL EXAM: Thursday, December 13 (7:30-9:30 A.M.)






















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