A look at how women are seduced and betrayed by our top law schools, by Clinton's controversial ex-nominee for assistant attorney general for civil rights Guinier (Law/Univ. of Penn.; The Tyranny of the Majority, 1994) and two colleagues. Although women are matriculating at America's law schools in record numbers, they consistently underperform compared to their male classmates. According to this study of 981 male and female students at the elite University of Pennsylvania Law School between 1987 and 1992, female law students receive lower grades, achieve lower class ranks, earn fewer awards and honors, and take less prestigious jobs than males. Even more troubling, the women law students interviewed by Guinier, et al., report that the culture of law school, which ``emphasizes aggressiveness, legitimizes emotional detachment and demands speed,'' robs them of their ``voices,'' alienates and demoralizes them, and even endangers their mental health (as one woman put it: ``Guys think law school is hard, and we just think we're stupid''). The authors come down particularly hard on the so-called ``Socratic method'' used in most law school teaching; the ``ritualized combat'' of the technique silences many women whose learning styles are better suited to the cooperative environment of smaller-scale seminars, and teaches little more than ``how to ask rude questions.'' This brief study is hugely persuasive but sometimes a bit vague: Exactly what are the career options available to J.D.s who refuse to ask ``rude questions''? Exactly what are the long-term effects of three miserable postgraduate years? Occasionally, the focus is too narrow; for example, is it possible that women law graduates fail to take public-interest jobs not because they've been coopted by macho, corporate-friendly law-school culture, but because they need lucrative jobs to pay off staggering law-school debts? Despite the sometimes conclusory nature of the analysis, an important and startling work by a provocative national figure. (Author tour)
How to Balance the Rights of Minority Cultures against the Rights of Disadvantaged Groups within those Minority Cultures?
Woman Wearing Niqab, Monterey, California
Ainu Women and Man, Hokkaido, Japan (Wikimedia Commons)
Are Majority Rule or Consensus Rule Even Possible? Is It Inevitable that All Rule Will Be In the Special Interests of an Elite Minority?
The Ruling Class in the Capitalist State?
Representatives of the Ruling Class in the Theocratic State?
Shia clerics Ali Khamenei, current Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the late Hussein-Ali Montazeri, sometime Deputy Supreme Leader(Wikimedia Commons)
Is It Safer to Assume that Market Societies Like Ours Are Composed of Self-Serving Atomistic Individuals, Rather Than Virtuous Public-Spirited Citizens?
(Brownian Motion of Atoms; Wikimedia Commons)
An Open Cabildo (Town Meeting) during Argentine Independence
If the Majority Should Rule, then Since Females Are a Majority in Most Countries, Why Shouldn't Females Rule those Countries? And if Males Are a Majority, Why Shouldn't They Rule?
World Sex Ratios, early 2000s
(CIA World Factbook 2006; Wikimedia Commons)
Pink = More females than males
Blue = More males than females
Gaps between Women's and Men's Power, as Measured by World Economic Forum
(Wikimedia Commons; explained here)
Should the Social Choice Avoid Taking from the Rich and Giving to the Poor Because It's Inefficient? The Pareto Principle
Emiliano Zapata with his slogan for land redistribution
From Diego Rivera, History of Mexico (1931; Wikimedia Commons)
One-Party Rule: Absolute Rule by the Majority?
Members of the Communist Party of China (Wikimedia Commons)
Is "Majority Rule" Just a Nice Name for Mob Politics?
Henry de Groux, Zola Faces the Mob (1898; Wikimedia Commons)
Minority Rulers Who Are Expert Protectors of Minority Rights?
The United States Supreme Court, October 2009 Term
(Wikimedia Commons; click to enlarge)
Course Requirements. To earn full credit, you must:
(1) Participate in class discussion. I know many people find this daunting. Nevertheless, try. One main aim of the course is to help you improve in argument.
(2) Submit 6 weekly response papers. Each week, you may submit a paper, of not more than 350 words, that examines some thesis that that week’s reading has argued. The paper may criticize the argument by which the reading defends the thesis, mount its own argument to refute the thesis, or mount its own argument to defend the thesis. For full credit, you need only submit 6 such papers.
(3) Submit a paper proposal. You are required to submit, in Week 8, a proposal for your final paper. The proposal should state a question concerning one of the topics covered in the course, say why the question is important, state your answer to the question (i.e., your thesis), give the key reasons by which you will defend the thesis, state two serious objections to your thesis, and state how you will respond to the objections. The proposal should be not more than 800 words long.
(4) Submit a final paper. You are required to submit, on the last day of exams, a final paper. The paper should state a question concerning one of the topics covered in the course, say why the question is important, state your answer to the question (i.e., your thesis), defend the thesis with argument, state two serious objections to your thesis, and respond to the objections. The paper should be not more than 5,000 words long.
Course Assessment. Course marks will be computed on the following distribution: Class Participation: 20%; Response Papers: 30% (5% each); Paper Proposal: 15%; Argumentative Paper: 35%
Course format. The course will be discussion oriented. In weeks where we are discussing formal proofs, I will walk through the steps of the proof, asking questions and inviting comment. In weeks where we discuss natural-language arguments, I will usually begin sessions by presenting a thesis advanced in the week’s reading. I will discuss its implications. I will then ask one or many of you whether you think the thesis true or false, and why. We shall then examine the reasons you offer for your view. We shall then turn to the reasons the text offers in defense of the thesis. I will ask you what you think of those reasons, and so forth. The course in part aims to improve your skill in reasoned argument.
Course Objectives. By the end of the course, students should
(1) Have become familiar with the key concepts of the theories and arguments about democracy and collective choice covered in the course;
(2) Have strengthened their skills in applying these concepts to current debate about the problems of democracy;
(3) Have honed their ability to specify how and why specific values clash when dealing with problems of democratic decision-making;
(4) Have improved their skills in specifying the disagreement over the relevant facts involved in disagreement over problems of democracy.
(5)Have learned how to accurately describe the structure of a theory, specifying its key concepts, its main claims, the basic model underlying it, and the question to which it is an answer;
(6) Have honed their skills in specifying the structures of arguments, breaking them into premises-axioms, middle premises-lemmas, and conclusions-theorems;
(7) Have improved their ability in distinguishing between similar concepts denoted by the same word and spotting equivocations;
(8) Have honed their skills in evaluating And challenging the premises of an argument with rational and well-ordered arguments of their own;
(9) Have improved their ability to evaluate the deductive validity or inductive strength of an argument’s progress from premises to conclusions;
(10) Have worked out for themselves a detailed and developed argument arguing a thesis about one of the questions covered in the course.
"In a community that thrives on relationships between students and faculty that are based on trust and respect, it is crucial that students understand a professor’s expectations and what it means to do academic work with integrity. Plagiarism and cheating, even if unintentional, undermine the values of the Honor Code and the ability of all students to benefit from the academic freedom and relationships of trust the Code facilitates. Plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas and presenting them as your own without attribution. Plagiarism can also occur in more subtle forms, such as inadequate paraphrasing, failure to cite another person’s idea even if not directly quoted, failure to attribute the synthesis of various sources in a review article to that author, or accidental incorporation of another’s words into your own paper as a result of careless note-taking. Cheating is another form of academic dishonesty, and it includes not only copying, but also inappropriate collaboration, exceeding the time allowed, and discussion of the form, content, or degree of difficulty of an exam. Please be conscientious about your work, and check with me if anything is unclear."
I may, at any time, use tools like turnitin.com to detect plagiarism.
How to do political philosophy: The approach used in this course is political philosophy. For some tips on how to do it, click here:
 Robert A. Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics (Yale UP, 1989)
 James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent (Liberty Fund, 200x)
 John C. Calhoun, A Disquisition on Government, ed. C. Gordon Post and Shannon Stimson (Hackett, 1995)
 Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments (Hackett, 2008)
GUIDES TO WRITING GOOD PAPERS: THE PROSE, THE PROBLEM, AND THE ARGUMENT
 Richard Lanham's Paramedic Method.
It transforms slow-starting sentences with obscure subjects into sentences with clear actors and actions.
 The Bennett rules for writing decent prose in theoretical papers.
Jonathan Bennett says: Prefer verbs to nouns. Prefer adverbs to adjectives. Avoid intensifiers ( like "very" or "extremely"). Use sparingly the abstract nouns--big words from Latin and Greek ending with "--ation," "--ity," "-ism," "-ology," "-nomy," etc.--; don't cram a sentence full of them.
 Joseph M. Williams and Gregory G. Colomb, Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (Longman, 2010).
 "From Questions to Problems," Section II.4 of Wayne Booth et al., The Craft of Research.
 Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments (Hackett, 2008).
Session 1. (1) Introduction: Benefits, Dangers, and Alternatives to Majority Rule. (2) Two Traditions of Thinking about Majority Rule and Democracy: the Rousseauian and the Lockeian. (3) History of Majority Rule.
Herbert Gans, "We Won’t End the Urban Crisis Until We End 'Majority Rule'," in Prejudice and Race Relations, ed. Raymond W. Mack (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1971):126-141.
George H. Sabine, "The Two Democratic Traditions," Philosophical Review 61 (1952): 451-474.
John Gilbert Heinberg, "History of the Majority Principle," American Political Science Review (1926):52-68.
Session 2. (1) James Madison's Theory of Democracy as a Way of Avoiding Either Majority Tyranny or Tyranny of a Minority. (2) John Stuart Mill’s Critique of the Pitfalls of Majority Rule, and His Argument for Proportional Representation as an Alternative.
Brian Barry, "Political Accomodation and Consociational Democracy," British Journal of Political Science 5 (1975): 477-505, READ pp. 477-490 ONLY
Treats consociation or permanent power-sharing as a Non-Majoritarian Institution for Dealing with Two or More Evenly and Sharply Divided Groups in a Society.
An example of the concurrent majority: Any EU member-state can veto EU policies on many issues (video)
Bernard Boxill, "Majoritarian Democracy and Cultural Minorities," in Multiculturalism and American Democracy, ed. Arthur M. Melzer et al (UKansas Pres, 1998): 112-119.
So you'd like to know more...
Ronald Dworkin, "Liberty and Moralism," Taking Rights Seriously (Belknap Press,1977): 240-259.
Richard W. Miller, "The Concept of a Ruling Class," Analyzing Marx (Princeton UP, 1987):101-141.
Dahl, "Is There a Better Alternative?" Democracy and Its Critics, pp. 153-162.
Jeremy Waldron, "The Wisdom of the Multitude," Political Theory 23 (1995): 563-584.
Session 8. Mar 17. (1) Who Says the Details of Group Decision Rules Don't Matter? (2) Benefits of Majority Rule. (3) Can An Election Ever Uncover the General Will of a Community? The Case of the Condorcet Jury Theorem.
Nate Silver, "Donald Trump Would be Easy to Stop under Democratic [Party] Rules," FiveThirtyEight (7 March 2016)
Albert Weale, "Unanimity, Consensus, and Majority Rule," Democracy (Palgrave, 1999): 124-147.
Bernard Grofman and Scott Feld, "Rousseau's General Will: A Condorcetian Perspective," American Political Science Review 82 (1988): 567-576.
Session 11. April 7. (1) An Economic Theory of Constitutional Choice Favoring Supermajority Rules: Public Choice Theory—Part I: Its Foundation in Methodological Individualism and Social Atomism. (2) Individualism: Its Diverse Meanings. (3) What Is the Social Atomist Tradition, and Does It Underlie All Modern Contract Thinking?
James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent, pp. 3-39.
Steven Lukes, "The Meanings of ‘Individualism’," Journal of the History of Ideas 32 (1971): 45-66, READ pp. 45-58 ONLY.
Melissa Schwartzberg, “The arbitrariness of supermajority rules,” Social Science Information 49 (2010): 61-82
Session 13. April 21. (1)The Liberal Paradox: Can a Liberal Consistently Accept the Pareto Principle? (2)What Should We Do about Bad or Immoral Preferences entering into the Social Choice? (3) What Should We Do If We Want to Relieve the Oppression of Women, But Many of Those Women Prefer to Keep the Social Structures That Oppress Them?
Amartya Sen, "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Journal of Political Economy 78 (1970): 152-157.
Brian Barry, "Lady Chatterley's Lover and Doctor Fischer’s Bomb Party: Liberalism, Pareto Optimality, and the Problem of Objectionable Preferences," Foundations of Social Choice Theory, ed. J. Elster and A. Hylland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986): 11-43, READ pp. 11-33 ONLY.
Martha C. Nussbaum, "Adaptive Preferences and Women's Options," Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach (Cambridge UP, 2000): 111-166, READ pp. 111-144 ONLY.
Session 14. April 28. Does Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem Show That It Is Impossible to Discover the Social Choice, and Hence that Democracy Is Impossible? Arguments for "Yes" and "No"
William H. Riker, Liberalism against Populism: A Confrontation between the Theory of Democracy and the Theory of Social Choice(Waveland 1982), pp. 1-36
Jules Coleman and John Ferejohn, “Democracy and Social Choice,” Ethics 97 (1986): 6-25, READ pp. 6-19 ONLY.