Recently Taught Courses
- Models of Democracy (with J. Fishkin)
Ancient and modern varieties of democracy; debates about their normative and
practical strengths and the pathologies to which
each is subject. Focus is on participation, deliberation, representation, and elite
competition, as values and political processes. Formal institutions, political rhetoric,
technological change, and philosophical critique. Models tested by reference to long-
term historical natural experiments such as Athens and Rome, recent large-scale political
experiments such as the British Columbia Citizens' Assembly, and controlled experiments.
- High Stakes Politics (with Barry Weingast)
Normative political theory combined with positive political theory to better explain
how major texts may have responded to and influenced changes in formal and informal
institutions. Emphasis is on historical periods in which catastrophic institutional
failure was a recent memory or a realistic possibility. Case studies include Greek city
-states in the classical periodand the northern Atlantic community of the 17th and 18th
centuries including upheavals in England and the American Revolutionary era.
- Political Economy of the Greek World (with Joe Manning)
Two-part course. Did large-scale kingdoms radically change
the Greek world after Alexander; or had new conditions already emerged
from the Peloponnesian War? Continuities and discontinuities across
the classical/hellenistic divide. Focus is on states and economies in the
4th and 3rd centuries B.C.E. Sources include primary sources and recent
scholarship on Greek economic thought and practices with reference
to city states (Athens, Rhodes), federations (Achaean, Aetolian), and
empires (Ptolemaic, Seleukid).
- Origins of Political Thought.
Political philosophy in classical antiquity, focusing
on canonical works of Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. Historical background.
Topics include: political obligation, citizenship, and leadership; origins and
development of democracy; and law, civic strife, and constitutional change.
- Ethics for Political Animals.
The ancient Greek conception of ethics as arising from human social and political
nature. Problems related to values, identity, and responsibility. Topics include
civic friendship, equality, reciprocity, integrity, dignity, and legal obedience.
- Collective Action in Classical Athens.
How can a collectivity reap the social benefits of cooperation in the face of the
tendency of self-seeking individuals to defect? The problem is pressing in
democracies, which require cooperation by diverse persons, and in highly competitive
environments such as the classical Greek city states. Focus is on the organizational
design of classical Athens as a state; how political institutions served to organize
useful social and technical knowledge.