Modern European Philosophies of the Political State
. The objective
of this project is for the student to do a critical study of the specified topic in modern European philosophy that not only demonstrates his/her understanding of that topic, but also assess his/her own viewpoint on it. The topic for this portfolio will be chosen from the three listed on the backside of this handout. By critical study, the student is expected to do the following:
1) Critically research your philosophical topic thoroughly. Gather and examine any and all available resources you
deem appropriately related to this topic. This means going to the library and/or Internet to collect notes, articles, stories, pictures, videos, etc. (any items related to this topic) as research material for this project. However, keep this point in mind—your research should allow you to provide a detailed explanation and critical assessment of your chosen philosophical topic.
2) Given your research, provide a detailed explanation and critical examination of your chosen philosophical topic.
For instance, discuss what the philosophical parameters of the problem are—that is, discuss (and define) what concepts are at stake and why these concepts are in conflict, and how these pose a problem philosophically to the modern thinker. Here you not only want to do a conceptual analysis but also an historical analysis of the topic, and so you should
discuss any philosophers (at least three) associated with this topic—why they think there is a problem, what if any solutions they offer to that problem and why they hold that position. As such, your objective here is to not only explain the topic, but also provide a critical examination of the arguments taken.
3) Provide a critical evaluative argument for your personal stance on this topic. That is, evaluate the arguments and/or information you have researched and provide an argument for where you stand on the matter. In doing so, you should critically evaluate this philosophical problem and the various modern solutions offered to it. Here, you want to discuss which of the philosophical positions (or philosophers) identified above best resolves or is more successful at resolving that philosophical problem, and critically argue for why you think this is the case. Furthermore, in doing this, your evaluation should not only consider our contemporary framework for understanding and resolving this problem, but
also the modern philosophical mindset surrounding it—that is you should consider the historical influences (e.g. individuals and/or events) that shaped this mindset, the historical impact that this position has had not only upon
modern philosophical thought but also the impact it has had upon western philosophical thought overall.
4) Compile the first three tasks together into a typed, double-spaced argumentative essay of approximately 10
pages. This essay should be college level quality. It should be clear, concise and cogent. If you use any sources for information, you must properly cite those sources using MLA format and provide a bibliography. Failure to do so
will constitute plagiarism and will be result in loss of points. No exceptions!
5) Compile a research portfolio of work on this project. This portfolio, a simple colored folder, should contain
evidence of research conducted over the semester. As noted in #1 above, this can include, but is not limited to,
notes, research sources, documents copied, arguments collected, rough drafts of essay, journals, photos, etc. (again,
any research material related to this topic). Also, this portfolio will also contain the final draft of the essay written
to complete task #4 above. The point of this portion of this project is for students to demonstrate the depth of their research into and understanding of this philosophical topic. Note: This portfolio must also contain a typed “Table of Contents” that lists all the items included in it. All items should be organized accordingly.
Grading: Students will be graded on the quality of organization, depth of research and critical content of their portfolio, as
well as upon the demonstration of understanding of the topic.
Examine and evaluate the modern European philosophical theories of the “political state” In doing so, be
sure to do three things. First, compare and contrast at least three of the modern philosophical positions on the
political state offered in the text. Discuss what those views are, how each of the philosophers arrives at that
position, and compare them for their philosophical worth. Also, consider such questions as “What, according to
these philosophers, constitutes and justifies the political state?” “How should the state govern its citizens and by
what means?” “What are the state’s interests compared to the individuals, and when they conflict whose should
win out?” “What problems might these positions encounter?” and/or “What impact do these views have upon other things like human rights, morality and socio-economic theories?” Second, discuss to what extent contemporary philosophical research in political philosophy undermines and/or supports these modern views of the political state.
In discussing this, address at least two different contemporary views (those of today). (Here, you should use both
the material presented in class as well as do your own research on these contemporary views.) Lastly, provide your personal view of the political state given your analysis. Which one of these views do you find to be true or most successful (or which do you most closely agree with)? Be sure to explain where you stand on this issue and argue
for why you hold this position. Be specific and be sure to provide relevant examples to make your case.