Major Texts in Philosophy: Hobbes & Locke (PHIL*4410) | College of Arts

Major Texts in Philosophy: Hobbes & Locke (PHIL*4410)

Code and section: PHIL*4410*01

Term: Fall 2021

Instructor: Karen Wendling


Method of Delivery:


Course Synopsis:

In this course we examine the origins of liberalism and modern social contract theories, through careful reading of Hobbes’ Leviathan and Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. We will examine several key concepts in these works — the postulate of initial equality, natural law and natural right, property, the family, the state of nature, reasons for the formation of civil society, and the nature of the contract. We will give particular attention to the idea of political equality, for in Hobbes’ and Locke’s works we see examples of its first coherent articulation in western philosophy. We will work to understand Leviathan and the Two Treatises on their own terms and in historical context, and we will also discuss the contemporary relevance of their ideas.

Assignments & Means of Evaluation (tentative):

  • Participation: 20% (includes answers to assigned discussion questions)
  • First Essay: 40%
  • Second Essay: 40%

Required Textbooks:

We will use the Early Modern Texts versions of Hobbes’ and Locke’s works. These versions modernize early modern texts’ English without distorting their meaning. They’re excellent, they’re available online, and they’re free.

Please note: This is a preliminary web course outline only. The Philosophy Department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description. The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.