The Tocqueville Forum is pleased to sponsor Robert Kraynak, Professor of Political Science of Colgate University, as a Visiting Professor here at Georgetown for the Spring 2010 semester. Dr. Kraynak taught an upper level undergraduate/graduate seminar titled “Catholic Natural Law.”
Robert P. Kraynak came to Colgate in 1978 from Harvard University where he received his Ph.D. in Government. He teaches courses in the fields of political philosophy and general education, including courses on American political thought, the history of Western political philosophy, natural law, religion and politics, and conservative political thought. He received the Colgate Alumni Corporation "Distinguished Teaching Award" in 2006, and he directs Colgate's Center for Freedom and Western Civilization.
His published books are History and Modernity in the Thought of Thomas Hobbes (Cornell Press, 1990), Christian Faith and Modern Democracy (Notre Dame Press, 2001), In Defense of Human Dignity, edited with Glenn Tinder (Notre Dame Press, 2003), and Reason, Faith, and Politics, edited with Arthur M. Melzer (Lexington, 2008). He also contributed to Human Dignity and Bioethics, published by the President's Council on Bioethics (2008). His book on Catholic natural law is forthcoming.
- Dr. Sarah Houser 2010-11 Jack Miller Center - Veritas Fund Post-Doctoral Fellow will teach GOVT-311, "Contemporary Political Thought ."
Course description: this course will explore some of the major themes and developments in contemporary political thought including contemporary liberalism, communitarianism, group rights, deliberative democracy, feminism, cosmopolitanism, nationalism and multiculturalism. We will examine these themes through the lens of some of the most contentious debates in our contemporary political discourse including: affirmative action, hate speech, welfare rights/reform, the Iraq War, privacy rights, and immigration policy, among others. Readings will include selections from the works of political philosophers John Rawls, Alasdair MacIntyre, Jurgen Habermas, Herbert Marcuse,Joshua Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, Will Kymlicka, Martha Nussbaum, Catherine MacKinnon, Isaiah Berlin and Charles Taylor as well as opinion pieces and policy recommendations by various public intellectuals and political commentators.
- Dr. Sarah Houser will co-teach GOVT-246, "The American Regime."
"The American Regime" will explore the deep interconnection between America's founding beliefs and the American "way of life." The first half of the course will focus on founding documents - the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and the criticisms of the Constitution by the Anti-federalists - and Alexis de Tocqueville's examination of America in Democracy in America. The second half of the course will look at various aspects of the American experience that have been subtly shaped by the deepest philosophical assumptions of the Founding, including the immigrant experience, the built environment, science and technology, culture and entertainment. There will be two 50-minute lectures weekly, and one required 50-minute discussion section. The discussion sections are held at the Tocqueville Forum offices.
- Dr. Steven Brust, Associate Director of the Tocqueville Forum, taught Govt. 477, a course titled "Catholicism and the American Political Order."
Course description: “If Catholicism could ultimately escape from the political animosities to which it has given rise, I am almost certain that same[democratic] spirit of the age which now seems to be so contrary to it would turn into a powerful ally and that it would suddenly make great conquests.”
“But I am brought to believe…that our descendants will tend more and more to be divided into only two parts, those leaving Christianity entirely and others entering into the bosom of the Roman Church.”
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
“The question is sometimes raised, whether Catholicism is compatible with American democracy. The question is invalid as well as impertinent; for the manner of its position inverts the order of values. It must, of course, be turned round to read, whether American democracy is compatible with Catholicism.”
John Courtney Murray, S.J., We Hold These Truths
These claims serve as a catalyst for this political theory seminar which will explore the foundational relationship between Catholicism and the American democratic political order and culture from a theoretical, practical, and historical perspective by using representative thinkers, texts, and historical movements and events. In order to assess whether Tocqueville’s claims have become true, and whether Fr. Murray’s question can be answered in the affirmative, one must understand both the nature of Catholicism and the American political order and culture - its implicit and explicit principles, assumptions, and tendencies. To do so, we shall ask and attempt to answer a whole host of important questions: How are the principles of the American political order as found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to be understood, and how should a Catholic approach them? What is meant by American? What is meant by Catholicism? What is the relation between the Church and the State with respect to the first amendment regarding establishment and religious freedom? What is the Catholic understanding of the relation between faith/revelation and reason, and what role should they play in American politics? Are Catholics divided in their loyalties to the Church and to America’s understanding of freedom, its political institutions, and culture as they have been historically accused? How does Catholicism relate to a liberal and pluralistic political order and culture? How ought a Catholic to participate in American politics, voting, and the culture? How can a Catholic contribute to the success of the American political order and culture? What, if anything, of Catholicism has or should influence America, and what, if anything, of America has or should influence Catholicism? The course will include both an examination of the differing views among some Catholics regarding the relationship between Catholicism and the American political order, and an examination of how Catholics, and the Church in general, have practically and historically fared in this relationship – especially with respect to current political and cultural issues which touch on the foundations of the political order.
- Dr. Sarah Houser 2010-11 Jack Miller Center - Veritas Fund Post-Doctoral Fellow taught GOVT-385, "Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism."
Course description: this course will explore the rival concepts of patriotism and cosmopolitanism. In other words, what precisely does it mean to “love one’s country” or to be a “citizen of the world”? Do these commitments necessarily conflict with one another and, if so, to what extent? What are the sources and limits of our obligations to our fellow citizens and our fellow human beings? Is it correct to characterize cosmopolitanism as a rational principle and patriotism as a passion? We will examine various understandings of these two concepts from the history of political thought and from several literary works. Readings for the class will include Plato’s Crito, selections from Aristotle’s Politics, Cicero’s De Offciis, and Augustine’s letters, the Stoics and Kant’s Perpetual Peace, as well as selections from Thomas More, Alexis de Tocqueville, Marx and Engels, G.K. Chesterton, Frederick Douglass, Martha Nussbaum and Kwame Anthony Appiah.
- Dr. Robert Kraynak, Professor of Political Science of Colgate University and visiting professor of the Tocqueville Forum for Spring 2010, will teach Government 471, "Catholic Natural Law."
Course description: this course will examine the theory of Catholic natural law and its practical applications to questions about the moral order of society – such as the best form of government, the best economic system, the right ordering of family life and marriage, the issues of just war and international law. We will begin with the sources of natural law in the Bible and classical philosophy, and then study major figures in the development of Catholic natural law – including Thomas Aquinas, Suarez and Vitoria, Pope Leo XIII and John Paul II, Jacques Maritain, Heinrich Rommen, and John Finnis.
- Tocqueville Forum JMC Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dr. Christopher West, taught "Theory of Executive Power."
Course description: the purpose of this course of study is to introduce you to the theoretical foundations of the institution of the American presidency, the debates and problems associated with them, and their demonstration in the history and development of the American Chief Executive. We will explore the concept of the modern executive that developed prior to the American founding and examine how it was joined to liberal constitutionalism. And, as we study the greatest American presidents, we will endeavor to come to an understanding of how the modern republican executive both challenges and undergirds the project of American constitutional democracy, as well as how it has met the problems of partisanship, popular rhetoric, and prerogative power.
- Dr. Steven J. Brust, Associate Director of the Tocqueville Forum taught Government 430, "Law and Morality," a seminar for honors students in the Department of Government.
Course description: this course explores answers to fundamental questions concerning law and morality which generally fall under the broad rubric of three claims: 1. You can’t legislate morality, 2. You can’t force your morality or religion on me, 3. The law and government should be neutral with respect to moral views. In attempting to discern the truth of these statements, a number of questions must be addressed: What is the nature of law? Does/should the government legislate morality? What is meant by morality? What is the rule of law and does it relate to morality? Does one have a right to do wrong? What is a right? What is liberty and how is it related to law and morality? What is morality? How is law related to society and culture? How should the Constitution be interpreted and does morality play a role in this interpretation? Is there such a thing as an unjust law? Are all moral views religious views? We will read moral, political and legal theorists and practitioners, seeking to answer these questions both at a theoretical level and a practical level of policy and law - especially as they are addressed in a number of Supreme Court decisions concerning fundamental issues. We will explore the extent to which answers to these questions imply or depend upon a particular view of the nature of the human person, moral truth, and even ultimate views of reality. In addition, since this is a university with a Catholic and Jesuit tradition, the course will include some exploration of Catholic teaching on law, morality and politics.
- In the Fall 2009 semester, our Jack Miller Center Post Doctoral Fellow, Brian Smith, offered an advanced level course, Govt. 424, “Machiavelli and the Art of Statecraft in Modernity”
- In the Spring 2009 semester, Dr. Smith offered an advanced level course, Govt. 467, “Issues in American Political Thought” and Dr. Steven Brust offered an upper level course, Govt. 489, “Law and Morality.”
- The Forum provided James Ceaser of the University of Virginia with travel funds to support his teaching a graduate seminar on “Foundational Ideas and American Political Development," a course about the different foundations -- nature, history, and religion -- political arguments have been grounded on throughout American history. He has written several books on American politics and political thought, including Presidential Selection, Liberal Democracy and Political Science, Reconstructing America, and Nature and History in American Political Development. Professor Ceaser has held visiting professorships at the University of Florence, the University of Basel, Oxford University, the University of Bordeaux, and the University of Rennes. Professor Ceaser is a frequent contributor to the popular press, and he often comments on American Politics for the Voice of America.
- Further, we provided George Mason University’s Peter Berkowitz with a paid teaching assistant, Tocqueville Forum Graduate Fellow, Aimee Raile. Prof. Berkowitz taught an undergraduate seminar on “Critique and Defense of Religion.” Peter Berkowitz, Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor at George Mason University School of Law, taught about the grounds, moral and political imperatives, and vitality of biblical faith. He explored the writings of thinkers such as Spinoza, Hobbes, and Kant as well as twentieth-century figures like Martin Buber and Leo Strauss. A contributor to many popular periodicals, Berkowitz also is the author of Virtue and the Making of Modern Liberalism (Princeton University Press, 1999) and Nietzsche: The Ethics of an Immoralist (Harvard University Press, 1995).