POL S 302 A: Free Will, Nature, And Nurture In Politics And Society

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
Location: 
JHN 111
SLN: 
19270
Instructor:
Mark Smith
Mark Alan Smith

Syllabus Description:

Click here for the grading scale.

Click here for the full syllabus.  Below are descriptions of class sessions and links to the readings and assigned questions:

January 3  Free will, nature, and nurture in political science and other disciplines.

January 5  Free will in Western philosophy.  Read Jerry Coyne, “You Don’t Have Free Will”; Bryan Caplan, “Some Arguments for Free Will”; Paul Bloom, “The War on Reason”; and Michael Shermer, excerpt from audio recording of interview on The Rubin Report.

January 10  Free will and moral responsibility, with applications to criminal justice, taxation, and the welfare state.  Read Stephen Cave, “There’s No Such Thing As Free Will”; Closer to Truth, videos on “Free Will and Moral Responsibility” (watch all of them, which will take about 35 minutes total).

January 12  Free will in political science:  structure and agency.  Read Steven Pinker, Preface, pp. 1-3, and chapters 1-3.

January 17  Nature and evolutionary psychology.  Read Steven Pinker, chapters 4, pp. 103-104, and chapters 6-7 (skip chapter 5).

January 19 part 1 January 19 part 2  Nurture and cultural anthropology.  Read Steven Pinker, pp. 137-139 and chapters 8-9.

January 24  Nature and nurture:  reconciling evolutionary psychology and cultural anthropology, part I.  Read Steven Pinker, chapters 10-11, pp. 195-196, and chapter 13 (skip chapter 12)

January 26 part 1 January 26 part 2  Nature and nurture:  reconciling evolutionary psychology and cultural anthropology, part II.  Read Steven Pinker, pp. 281-282 and chapters 16-17.

January 31  Conscious control of thoughts and actions.  Read Steven Pinker, chapter 19; Paul Bloom, “Natural Born Killers”; Tase Rai, “How Could They?”

February 2  First exam.

February 7  Nature and nurture in behavioral genetics, part I.  Read Malcolm Gladwell, Introduction and chapters 1-4.

February 9  Nature and nurture in behavioral genetics, part II.  Read Malcolm Gladwell, chapters 6, 8-9, and Epilogue.

February 14  Free will, willpower, and the course of people’s lives.  Read Roy Baumeister, “Do You Really Have Free Will?”; Paul Tough, “How Kids Learn Resilience”

February 16  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies:  group identity and politics.  Read Gretchen Reynolds, “One Twin Exercises, the Other Doesn’t”; The Economist, “Unequal Beginnings:  Prenatal Health and Life Outcomes”; Paul Voosen, “Bringing Up Genius” 

February 21  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies:  sexual orientation.  Read John Hibbing, Kevin Smith, and John Alford, chapters 1-2.

February 23  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies:  religion.  Read John Hibbing, Kevin Smith, and John Alford, chapters 3-4.

February 28  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies:  political attitudes and behaviors, part I.  Read John Hibbing, Kevin Smith, and John Alford, chapters 5-6.

 

March 2  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies:  political attitudes and behaviors, part II.  Read John Hibbing, Kevin Smith, and John Alford, chapters 7-8.

March 7 part 1 March 7 part 2  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies:  sex and gender.  Read John Hibbing, Kevin Smith, and John Alford, chapter 9Robin Marantz Henig (if you cannot connect to the Web version of the article because it's behind a paywall, click here for a text-only version), "Rethinking Gender".  

March 9  Second exam, which covers only material since the first exam.

March 14  Paper due by 4:00 PM.  You will submit a hard copy to the main political science office (Gowen 101) and upload an electronic copy to the course’s Canvas site. 

 

Catalog Description: 
Examines beliefs and actions in politics and other domains from the standpoint of free will, nature, and nurture. Compares political science to other disciplines in explaining why people think and act as they do.
Department Requirements: 
Political Theory Field
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Credits: 
5.0
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:16pm