History of political thought

A.Y. 2021/2022
9
Max ECTS
60
Overall hours
SSD
SPS/02
Language
Italian
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide students with a solid basic knowledge of the history of political thought. Students will acquire skills in textual and conceptual analysis. They will be able to place the classics of political thought in their historical and philosophical contexts. They will also be able to deal with the main historiographical interpretations, showing thereby that they have acquired good hermeneutic competences.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding

At the end of the course, students will be able to:
- understand the concepts and lines of argument used by the authors;
- know the fundamental aspects of the history of Western political thought from antiquity to the present day (with special focus on the classics);
- know the fundamental lexicon of political thought in its historical development;
- explain the links between the history of political thought and its historical context;
- master the basic methodological tools of the research in history political thought.

Ability to apply knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course, students will be able to:
- apply the understanding of concepts and argumentative forms to the analysis of complex texts written by political philosophers;
- apply the knowledge acquired studying specific texts and authors to the historical understanding and philosophical contextualization of other works and thinkers;
- apply the political-philosophical lexicon to the analysis and discussion of contemporary problems;
- apply the understanding of the historical relationships between political thought and other forms of knowledge to the analysis and discussion of texts and problems;
- make use of basic methodological tools and bibliographic resources to the preparation of a scientific paper in the political-philosophical domain.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Responsible
Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
Democracy and Public Opinion: Conformism, Manipulation and Social Criticism.
1 Introduction to the fundamental concepts of political philosophy
Introduction to the fundamental concepts of political philosophy (natural law, contractualism, principles of legitimacy, justice, power, freedom) and reconstruction of the fundamental stages of the history of democracy in antiquity and modernity (democracy of the ancient and modern, direct democracy and representative democracy, formal and substantive democracy, extension of suffrage, birth of public opinion, theory of the elites).
2 From the democracy of the ancients to the democracy of the moderns
Reading and commentary of the most significant pages of Tocqueville's Democracy in America, with particular attention to the conception of public opinion, individualism and the notion of despotism. Democracy in America represents the first organic reflection on the functioning of democracy, on the social transformations it has produced and on the risks of degeneration.
3 Public Opinion and Democracy
We will examine the development of public opinion from the earliest theories of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the contemporary debate on the transformations produced by social media.
Prerequisites for admission
No prior knowledge is needed
Teaching methods
Lectures
Debate and discussion
Teaching Resources
Readings and assignments for attending and non-attending students:
Assignments for both 6 and 9 ECTS exams:

1) S. Petrucciani, Modelli di filosofia politica, Torino, Einaudi, 2003.
2) B. Manin, Principi del governo rappresentativo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2010.
3) A. de Tocqueville, La democrazia in America, edited by N. Matteucci, Torino, Utet, 2013.
The following chapters of La democrazia in America should be prepared in depth:
Book 1: Introduction; Part 1: Chapters 2 e 3; Part 2: Chapter 7.
Book Two: Foreword, Part One: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4; Part Two: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Part Four: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Additional assignments for 9 ECTS exam:
4) E. Noelle-Neumann, La spirale del silenzio. Per una teoria dell'opinione pubblica, Meltemi, Milano, 2017, only chapters 1-12, pp. 9-192.
5) D. Palano, Bubble Democracy. La fine del pubblico e la nuova polarizzazione, Milano, Scholé, 2020.

Lessons are an integral part of the examination programme.

Non-attending students have two options: they can either download and listen to the recorded lectures or supplement the examination program with an additional text: J.-W. Müller, "L'enigma democrazia. Le idee politiche nell'Europa del Novecento", Torino, Einaudi, 2012.

Slides and other digital resources available on e-learning course: https://msimonazzisfp.ariel.ctu.unimi.it/
Assessment methods and Criteria
The examination is oral and consists of an interview on the topics and texts included in the program, aimed at ascertaining the acquisition of the fundamental concepts of political thought and the historical development of the debate on democracy. Furthermore, the student will have to demonstrate an ability to read, comment on and contextualize a classic of political philosophy such as Tocqueville's "Democracy in America". Lastly, the student must show that he or she is familiar with the main theories related to the role of public opinion in a democracy.
Non-attending students have two options: they can either download and listen to the recorded lectures or supplement the examination program with an additional text: J.-W. Müller, "L'enigma democrazia. Le idee politiche nell'Europa del Novecento", Torino, Einaudi, 2012.
Remember that those who intend to "biennalizzare" the exam, and therefore have already supported History of Political Philosophy A or History of Political Philosophy B, are required to contact the professor to agree the examination program.

Evaluation criteria:
- knowledge of the history of political philosophy and political theory (exposition);
- ability to exemplify concepts (understanding);
- autonomy of judgement, capacity of use and apply concepts (development);
- communication skills and the adequacy of language.
Unita' didattica
SPS/02 - HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica
SPS/02 - HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica
SPS/02 - HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Professor(s)
Reception:
Office hours: Thursday, 4.30 pm-7.30 pm via Teams, with prior appointment by email.