POL 3235 Democracy and Citizenship - formal 1
The following writing assignment is designed to have you evaluate the relative merits and purpose of social contract theory and its potential application to contemporary democracy. Please choose one of the two following options.
Imagine that you are Jean Jacques Rousseau and you are writing a letter to John Locke (miraculously raised from the dead). In your letter explain what you have found useful in Locke’s Second Treatise to your own theory of a social contract. Then, explain why he would greatly benefit from being better acquainted with your own treatise, the Social Contract. In particular, justify why your own account of the social contract improves upon Locke’s account.
Imagine that you are Alexis de Tocqueville and you are writing an op-ed article in the newspaper. A group of Americans are trying to revive the principles of Rousseau’s Social Contract and apply them to American society. This reading group turned social movement has quickly gained supporters. You want to apprise the reading public of both the potential gains and potential drawbacks of this fledgling movement. Having recently produced two large volumes on American democracy (Democracy in America) you cannot resist the opportunity to point out how your analysis provides a more accurate and useful account of the features that support American democracy and those that citizens need to protect against.
In your op-ed article, you will need to explain what changes the Roussean group is likely to propose based on Rousseau’s theory of the social contract. This will require explication of Rousseau’s most important concepts and evaluation of their potential effects. Given the rising popularity of this group it is important that you be fair to Rousseau’s arguments, but still critically assess them. Then you will need to explain how your own account provides a more accurate and useful account of American democracy.
Guidelines for BOTH options 1 and 2:
Your letter OR Op-ed must be 3-4 pages, typed, double-spaced, in 12-point, Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins all around. Number your pages and staple them in the upper left corner. Please do not put your paper in a binder of any kind. Proofread your letter OR Op-ed for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Keep a copy of your work for your personal records.
In writing your letter or Op-ed, be sure to address all parts of the question, drawing upon evidence, examples, and arguments from the texts. You must make use of the assigned readings to provide evidence to support your arguments. The more you are able to draw upon the readings, and the better you are to integrate them into clear coherent arguments, the better your grade will be. Cite title and page number of assigned readings when you refer to them. Essays that make little or no use of course material will receive a very poor grade. Remember that you are writing from the perspective of Rousseau OR Tocqueville so you may be making arguments with which you do not completely or even partially agree. You do not need to do any outside research to answer this question.