W2LK to PS1—Topics for the Second Essay

Your second essay is due Friday, November 19 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. Both Locke and Hobbes 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. Does another of the writers we have read so far in PS 1 make a similar claim to be giving practical advice? If not, how did another of these writers differ in purpose from Machiavelli, and how did he differ in the theoretical assumptions behind a particular issue?
  4. Your own topic involving a comparison of at least two of the works used in PS1.

* "As necessary" means that you cannot make any claim about the authors, their works, or their circumstances without the means to substantiate it. In other words, you must conduct research and cite it properly to make a claim not supported by the text itself.