Theory Field Exams | Department of Political Science

Theory Field Exams

Political Theory Sample field Exam Questions

  1. Many contemporary advocates of democracy take the attitude that the cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy.Discuss the meaning of this assertion and explain the attitude that would be taken toward it by two of the following: Aristotle, Rousseau, The Federalist.
  2. Despite being a defender of absolute monarchy, Thomas Hobbes has been called the "father of liberalism." After sketching the basis and purpose of liberalism as we find it in John Locke (indisputably a liberal), explain how and to what extent Hobbes's writings make an essential contribution to it.
  3. Modern politics and political philosophy has been very concerned with the idea of "progress." Discuss two of the following authors, their views on modern progress, and of its good or ill effects: Rousseau, Mill, Nietzsche.
  4. Both Thucydides and Machiavelli are very concerned with the problem of imperialism. What are their respective analyses of the causes of imperialism? Is it justified? What are its advantages and drawbacks?
  5. Individualism is a phenomenon closely associated with democracy and modern political philosophy. What attitude would three of the following authors take toward modern individualism? Plato, Locke, Tocqueville, Mill.
  6. The rule of law constitutes a very important theme in the history of political thought. Yet different thinkers understand the rule of law in very different ways. Discuss the views of two of the following thinkers toward the rule of law in politics: Aristotle, Aquinas, and Machiavelli.
  7. Compare and contrast Machiavelli and Plato's Thrasymachus on the proposition that justice is the advantage of the stronger. What practical political conclusions does each man draw from his theoretical position?
  8. Compare Hobbes and Socrates on the proposition that unless philosophers rule as kings or those now called kings genuinely philosophize, and political power and philosophy coincide, there is no rest from ills for the cities (Republic, Bk. Five).
  9. Choose ONE of the definitions of justice offered in Books 1& 2 of Plato's Republic. After identifying whose definition it is, explain the point and ramification of the definition; then, explain Socrates' response to or analysis of the definition. To what extent does Socrates retain some aspect of the definition in his "city-in-speech"?