Summer 2014: Phl 350 – Introduction to Social-Political Philosophy


General information


Here is more information about Prof. Lotz

Class Meetings

Days: TTH
Time: 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
Place: 111 Ernst Bessey Hall


Phone: 517.355.4490 [dept.])
Place: 518 S. Kedzie Hall
Hours: Before class, and by appointment

Other Contact

Home Phone: please ask


You will find my box in the front office of the philosophy department (and in front of my office, 518 South Kedzie)



May 13, Introduction

May 15, Fear and State
Hobbes, Leviathan, introduction + section 1 + section 6 + sections 13-16

May 20, Fear and State
Hobbes, Leviathan, sections 17-21 + section 29

May 22, The Liberal Tradition
Locke, Second Treatise, chapter 1-5

May 27, The Liberal Tradition
Locke, Second Treatise, chapter 7-13

May 29, The Romantic Tradition
Rousseau, Second Discourse, part 1
Reaction paper assignment passed out in class

June 3, The Romantic Tradition
Rousseau, Second Discourse, part 2
Patrick, Michael

June 5, The Left Tradition
Marx, From the Paris Notebooks
Josh, Jaycie

June 10, The Left Tradition
Marx, German Ideology
Veronica, Margo

June 12, Marxism
Lenin, State and Revolution, chapter 1-3
Chris, Norma

June 17, Marxism
Lenin, State and Revolution, chapter 4-7
Hanan, Jeremy

June 19, Anarchism
Goldmann and Bakunin (pdf per email)
Reaction paper assignment passed out in class

June 24,
In-class essay exam

June 26,
No class
Reaction paper assignment due by email

Course Description

In this class we will first closely analyze selected texts by foundational modern social-political philosophers, such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Marx. We will then discuss major radical visions of society, such as Anarchism, Utopian Socialism, Leninism, and Free Market Libertarianism.


This is a 300-level course in philosophy and, as such, contains difficult material and requires mature students. If you are not willing to study dense written material, listen to unusual lectures, and discuss ideas in an organized fashion, then you should not take this class. This class though can be taken by students without prior knowledge in philosophy. You should not take this class if you are not an avid reader.

Course Goals

This lecture class should students introduce to

  • basic concepts of social-political philosophy, such as state, society, power, and sovereignty
  • how to think about society from a left and right political point of view
  • demonstrate that most of our everyday believes about society are based on philosophical assumptions
  • basic political movements, based on certain ideas about what constitutes societies


Students should be aware of the fact that this course is based on difficult texts. Accordingly, this class requires self-responsible learners and an intense confrontation with the primary text. Accordingly, if you are not excited about the prospect of a daily confrontation with abstract and historical reflections, then you should not take this class. This class is not based on a set of fixed knowledge and, as such, is not based on a behavioral idea of education; rather, we will try to learn together and critically examine the material. The instructor of this class does not have anything to teach, but much to learn.

Required Texts (Bookstore)

  • Rousseau, Second Discourse
  • Hobbes, Leviathan
  • Locke, Second Treatise on Government
  • Marx, Early Political Writings
  • Lenin, State and Revolution

Texts per Email

Emma Goldman + Bakunin, texts on anarchism

Course Requirements

  • Daily reading and studying (around 5-10 pages, up to 70 per week)
  • 2 shorter reaction papers
  • 1 thesis statement (short assignment, systematic summary of the readings)
  • 1 final in-class essay exam
  • participation


The class and my lectures are solely based on the texts selected for class and require a thorough study and preparation of the material. I will primarily lecture on the readings, which will help you to more fully understand the texts. Therefore it is not sufficient for students to come to class without having prepared the texts. And indeed, in the assignments you have to demonstrate whether you have appropriately prepared the readings selected for each lecture.


Every academic misconduct, such as plagiarism, will – without exception – lead to a failing grade in class. Check the Ombudsman’s page (see also note below on plagiarism):


Make-Up Assignments

Students who need to miss assignments for excusable reasons, such as a death in their families, MSU related business, emergency weather conditions, or medical reasons, must inform me ahead of time, and will be permitted to make up assignments. I will only accept written documentation. Unfortunately I am unable to accept any other reasons than those mentioned.


To get a good grade in this class, regular attendance is required. I will not call roll. Hence, it is up to you to come to class or not. However, if you do not come to class on a regular basis and participate in the class discussion, it is impossible for you to achieve a good grade in this class; so coming to class is your responsibility and your call. If you choose to attend class, please come on time, turn off cell phones and other electronic devices that interfere with your (and others’) concentration, have the reading prepared and be ready to participate. If you are not prepared, do not bother showing up. It is a sign of disrespect to your peers and the instructor to attend class unprepared. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to obtain class notes from a fellow student and to catch up on reading. Nevertheless, please be aware that you should not make me responsible for a failure that results out of your decision. You should be aware that chances to master this class are minimal, if you do not show up for class or if you do not prepare the readings (=studying).

Thesis Statement (brief overview of assigned reading)

Each student has to prepare one thesis paper for class. The thesis paper should contain [a] a list of main points and claims, [b] concepts that are unclear, [c] intelligent questions about the readings. Students who prepare the thesis paper need to send their thesis papers by 8am per email on the due date to me, bring copies for everyone to class and be prepared to briefly present their paper (this will not always happen). The thesis paper is limited to two pages and you must use the following prepared document:

Download thesis paper form

Reaction Paper

Each student has to write two 3-page (no more than 900 words) reaction papers in reaction to one of the readings or YouTube material (depends upon the assignment). The reaction paper should contain a systematic thesis about a selected aspect of the material. Assignments will be passed out in class. Note: you should work with the following online resources (or other resources in the library): Oxford Dictionary of PhilosophyRoutledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyEncyclopedia of Continental Philosophy (e-book) – The Oxford Companion to Philosophy

Final Exam

There will be a final in-class essay exam. I will give you several options and questions related to the class material.

Unannounced Assignments

There will be – from time to time – unannounced reading quizzes, homework-assignments, and group assignments. Students who do not attend class (and have no medical documentation) will lose all points. Reading quizzes and group assignments cannot be made up.

Class Response Sheets

Every student is asked to submit up to 5 class response sheets during the semester. Please download the form here (plus: print it out five times and add it to your class folder). Response sheets must be submitted at the end of a class session. I do not accept late turn ins or turn ins by email.

Download response sheet (I will only accept answers that are given on this form)


Students are not allowed to turn in response sheets during the last week of class!

Course Evaluation


1 final exam 20 points
2 reaction papers (up to 900 words) 20 points
unannounced assignments 25 points
1 thesis statement (use form) 10 points
participation 10 points
response sheets (use form) 15 points
100 points


4.0 (=A) 100 – 93
3.5 92 – 87
3 (=B) 86 – 82
2.5 81 – 77
2 (=C) 76 – 72
1.5 71 – 65
1.0 (=D) 64 – 60
0.0 < 60

GENERIC SYLLABUS (might not be applicable to each class)

Laptop/Cell Phone Policy

You are not permitted to use laptops and cell phones in class. Please do not text under the table. Cell phones should be removed from tables. Failure to follow this policy will lead to unannounced assignments in class or loss of points (at the digression of the instructor).

Class Attendance

As mentioned above, I do not employ in my classes a class attendance policy. Having said this, you should be aware that class attendance is very important. When engaging in a philosophical and humanistic dialogue it is necessary to be an active and present participant in the ongoing discussion. If you miss class please do not email me asking if you missed anything important. Every class is important. You should get a study buddy for the class; a student in class who will inform you of what you missed. If you miss a class you can come to my office hours or make an appointment to discuss the material, providing you have read the material and you simply want to see if your understanding of the material is on target. Time in office hours will not be used to repeat the class lectures.

Grading Criteria + Paper Writing Tips

Check out this page for grading criteria, example of assignments, etc.

Online Research Sources

Unfortunately, some people think that the internet as such is a reliable source of information. If you decide to use online sources for additional information or your paper then do not just use one of the common internet search engines, such as Google; rather, use reliable academic sources, such as Britannica Online, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Ecyclopedia of Philosophy isn’t very good, but still acceptable. Check out MSU’s library resources! And, as with other sources, you must cite any online sources to which you refer in your essay.

Writing Center Information

MSU’s writing center offers excellent help on all matters regarding writing and learning. Check the website at for an overview and hours. For more information, please call 517.432.3610 or send an e-mail to

Integrity of Scholarship and Grades (Plagiarism)

The following statement of University policy addresses principles and procedures to be used in instances of academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, and falsification of academic or admission records, herein after referred to as academic misconduct. [See General Student Regulation 1.00, Protection of Scholarship and Grades.]

Academic Honesty

Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, the (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Students who violate MSU rules may receive a penalty grade, including but not limited to a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also

Plagiarism, from the Ombudsman’s page

Plagiarism (from the Latin plagiarius, an abductor, and plagiare, to steal) is defined by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Misconduct in Research (take that!) as “ . . . the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.”

Accidental or Unintentional
One may not even know that they are plagiarizing.  It is the student’s responsibility to make certain that they understand the difference between quoting and paraphrasing, as well as the proper way to cite material.

Here, students are well aware that they are plagiarizing.  Purposefully using someone else’s ideas or work without proper acknowledgment is plagiarism.  This includes turning in borrowed or bought research papers as one’s own.

Turning in the same term paper (or substantially the same paper) for two courses without getting permission from one’s instructor is plagiarism.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to establish reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor, call 353-9642 (voice) or 355-1293 (TTY)

Drops and Adds

The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Note on Attendance

Students who fail to attend the first four class sessions or class by the fifth day of the semester, whichever occurs first, may be dropped from the course.