W2LK to PS1—Topics for the Second Essay

Your second essay is due Friday, November 10 by 4:00PM in the mail slot in my door, 1310 Girvetz Hall. It must contain the following elements:

Topics: These are suggestions for possible directions of inquiry, not prescriptions or formulae. Your essay will undoubtedly be more narrowly focused.

  1. Choose a central term or assertion from any two of the texts used so far in PS 1, such as civil society, virtue (of rulers, governments, or citizens), the state of nature, natural law, alienable or inalienable rights. Write a thesis statement that makes a claim about both texts considered together that could not be derived from considering either of them separately, then support your claim with evidence from the texts.
  2. Locke and Hobbes, among others in the reader, wrote their works in response to a civil war, and were concerned about preventing a state of anarchy from happening again. How did their different positions develop as a consequence of their different circumstances, and what assumptions did they have in common? Make a claim about some aspect of their works that will enable you to determine how close or far apart they were in their views, and explain why.
  3. Machiavelli concerns himself almost exclusively with the practical difficulties of being a prince, yet bases his advice on abstract principles. Aristotle, on the other hand, describes very abstract principles that he claims to have based on directe observation of human nature. Do any other writers we have read so far in PS 1 make similar claims about the practicality of their advice or the basis for their claims? Examine the relationship between theory and practice, and between claim and evidence in two of the writers.
  4. Your own topic involving a comparison of at least two of the works used in PS1.

* A secondary source is a scholarly text about the source text and can consist of analysis or historical background. It may not be an encyclopedia article or Cliff’s Notes.