Outline and Readings
Lecture Outline Instructions
The examination will consist of two of the
following questions. You should be prepared to answer these
questions in some detail. You are expected to understand the
arguments found in the lectures and the required reading. But you
should also feel free to criticize these arguments and present
your own views. In doing so, however, you should defend your
views against the most plausible criticisms of them that you
- According to contractarian liberals, what are the
fundamental human rights and why do we have them?
- Why is the protection of civil liberty so important to
both contractarian and utilitarian liberals?
- Why is economic growth so important to both contractarian
and utilitarian liberals?
- What do liberals mean by limited government and why do
they want the government to be limited? Why has the role
of government expanded in contemporary liberal
democracies? Is government truly limited in contemporary
- What is the rule of law? How was the separation of powers
and checks and balances in the U.S. Constitution meant to
preserve the rule of law?
- What is the difference between a presidential /
separation of powers political system and a parliamentary
system. How do these two different forms of government
effect the way in which voters decide who to vote for.
- Explain why some liberal democracies have two-party
political systems while others have multi-party political
systems. Why does the United States have a two party
system? What difference does the number of parties make
to politics in a liberal democracy?
- Your local newspaper has written another in a never
ending series of editorials bemoaning the public's lack
of interest in politics and poor turnout at the polls.
Write a letter to the editor explaining why the public's
lack of interest in politics is not only what we would
expect in a liberal polity but also not necessarily a bad
thing from a liberal point of view.
- Compare and contrast majoritarian and pluralist liberal
democracy? What are some of the advantages and
disadvantages of each form of liberal democracy in
attaining the ends of liberalism? What reforms might it
be possible to make the American political system more
majoritarian in nature? Do you think we should adopt any
or all of these reforms? Explain.
- Political scientist often divide liberal democratic forms
of government into three types: (1) two-party
presidential; (2) multi-party parliamentary and (3)
two-party parliamentary. Which of these types of liberal
democratic government is preferred by majoritarian
liberal democrats? Which of these types is preferred by
pluralist liberal democrats.
- What reforms might it be possible to make the American
political system more majoritarian in nature? Do you
think we should adopt any or all of these reforms?