“Course Pack” for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Course

If I were Teaching a Course on Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, I would use the open resources on this blog for “supplemental reading.” An integrated study of philosophy, politics, and economics is often complex, and my posts are designed to breakdown conceptualizations in the literature for the benefit of the reader.

Today, a great river divides the mountains of philosophy and valleys of economics. Worse, the philosophers appear to be living in caves at the top of the mountains, and there are too few roads between philosophers and political scientists. This “Course Pack” is designed to show you a few of those bridges and roads, respectively.

For the new reader of Political Pipeline, I started my study of philosophy in 1995 at James Madison College (Michigan State). I studied, Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Locke, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Carl Schmitt, Marx, Hegel, Montesquieu, John Gray, Hume, Machiavelli, Tocqueville, and The Federalist Papers (to name a few)–in great detail. In 2014, my dissertation (PhD) focuses on whether or not republicanism is a viable ideology in the early 21st century, and I do find a massive “republican” response to the Patriot Act. That being said, here’s my “Course Pack” of supplemental readings for a course on Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.

John Girdwood’s Course Pack for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Course

Week 1 Reading: A Republican Swipe at Blight The conceptualization of this poem is based on Urbinati, 2012, Competing for Liberty: The Republican Critique of Democracy. This is an introduction to thinking about philosophy, politics, and economics!

Week 2 Reading: Collective Dilemmas–Who Solves Them?  I look into Coase, 1960, The Problem of Social Cost. Hardin, 1968, The Tragedy of the Commons.Cox and McCubbins, 1993, Legislative Leviathan: Party Government in the House. I want to see “how” problems get solved, and who solves them.

Week 3 Reading: Locke’s Political Theory and Lockean Liberalism—Our National Creed? Since the 1950s and 1960s, scholars have been influence by Hartz’s “Liberal Tradition” thesis, which culturally claims a universalism in American culture, tied to the ideology and development of liberalism.

Week 4 Reading: Analysis of Olson (1993): Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development  and Democracy within Globalization for the Benefit of Humanity Let’s think about anarchy and authoritarianism for a moment. After all, most countries have never been a sustainable democracy for more than 100 years. I end with Henry Teune’s Global Democracy.

Week 5 Reading: Strategies of an Effective Issue / Policy Entrepreneur. So how do you–the student–graduate and cause philosophical, political, and economic change? I look to Baumgartner and Jones, Kingdon, Lindblom, Schattschneider, and Pralle for examples.

Week 6 Reading: Cultural Modernization According to Sequence. By looking at  Inglehart and Welzel, 2005, Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy; we can talk about large social processes.

Week 7 Reading: Does Economic Development Cause Democracy? I look at Lipset, “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy” (1959), with special attention paid to “Modernization: Theories and Facts” by Przeworski and Limongi (1997). Is the title true?

Week 8 Reading: In Search of Ideological Congruence and Rational Choice and A Critical Voice. The first reading focuses on Benoit, 2007, Electoral Laws as Political Consequences: Explaining the Origins and Change of Electoral Institutions; and Golder and Stramski, 2010, Ideological Congruence and Electoral Institutions. The second reading focuses on Bates, Robert, 1981, Markets and States in Tropical Africa. The Political Basis of Agricultural Policies; and Green and Shapiro, 1994, Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory: A Critique of Applications in Political Science. This reading is designed to illuminate the complexities of scientific progress in the field of political science.

Week 9 Reading: An Interest Group Walks into a Comp. Exam. I develop Lowery and Brasher’s “Three Perspectives on the Influence Production Process” with details from many other salient works. Is pluralism king? Or perhaps a few rule through transactions? Who affects what?

Week 10 Reading: Interest Groups, Nested Games, and Common Pool Resources. I begin with  Olson, 1965, 1971, The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. Next, I analyze Tsebelis, 1990, Nested Games: Rational Choice in Comparative Politics. Finally, I describe Ostrom, 1990, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. The relationships between philosophy, politics, and economics are multifarious.

Week 11 Reading: Democratic Gleams from Competitive Authoritarian Regimes. Let’s remember that billions of people live under, indubitably, authoritarian regimes. Bunce and Wolchik. 2010. Defeating Dictators, Electoral Change and Stability in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes set the authoritarian groundwork. Then I try to pull the authoritarian rug using liberalization via Levitsky and Way. 2006. Linkage versus Leverage. Rethinking the International Dimension of Regime Change. To understand authoritarian regimes more, I use  Svolik, 2009, Power Sharing and Leadership Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes. I end with Linz and Stepan, 1996, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe, which should be salient given Ukraine and the Middle East (etc.)  in 2014.

Week 12 Reading: Republicanism via Pettit, 1999 and Republicanism’s Path for 21st Century Dominance? Domination could be fought with non-domination (i.e., republicanism). I rearticulate the main points of Pettit (1999) and Giese (1984) to illuminate republicanism.

Week 13 Reading: American Exceptionalism as a Guide. This is a book review of Abbott’s (1999) development of American exceptionalism as a recurring liberal tradition. Even if 10 million Americans are republicans and not liberals, wouldn’t s/he need to work within America’s liberal tradition?

Week 14 Reading: Why Do Political Parties Form? Let’s take a close look at Aldrich. 2011. Why Parties?: A Second Look to see why political parties form.

Week 15 Reading: So Parties Form. But Why Trust Them? I use Grynaviski, 2010, Partisan Bonds: Political Reputations and Legislative Accountability; in order to help examine the relationship between the people and political parties. This concludes the readings.


I assume a 16 week semester. For the student essays (I would assign in class), my rubric for grading (I.e., authentic assessment) would require “quotes” form at least three posts, in context and according to the student’s thesis (25% of grade).

This course pack is subject to change, and should only be viewed as “supplementary reading.” As an educator, I would integrate the readings into the lecture, if for only 5 minutes as a detailed example to illuminate the primary course material.

There is no cost for this “Course Pack” to the student.


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