Rousseau’s Social Contract

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Rousseau’s Social Contract – Term Paper

Option I
Consider the following quote from Rousseau’s Social Contract (Book 2 ch.7):
“He who dares to undertake the making of a people’s institutions ought to feel himself capable . . . of changing human nature . . He must, in a word, take away from man his own resources and give him instead new ones alien to him . . The more completely these natural resources are annihilated, . . the more stable and perfect are the new institutions; so that if each citizen is nothing and can do nothing without the rest . . [then] legislation is at the highest point of perfection.”

Write a paper responding to this citation (using a theorist from Hobbes on), answering the following questions:
• Is the perfect political life founded on the basis of personal annihilation of each citizen?
• Can a democratic society be founded on the basis of complete interdependence?
• What happens to the relationship between the individual and society is “each citizen is nothing”?
• Can this quote be understood as promoting a society of perfect equality? Is it possible to understand the concept of equality as requiring a dynamism that is not accounted for in the formulation of this citation?

Option II

Analyze the work of a theorist (from Hobbes and on; not Ibsen) that we have read in terms of his/her approach to liberty. “Liberty” is a large topic, so it is important to structure your analysis with some fundamental questions:
• Does the theorist view liberty as fundamental to what it means to be human? Why or why not?
• Does the theorist view liberty as fundamental to the (good or bad) functioning of the state? Why or why not?
• Is liberty / should liberty be integral the arrangements of power?
• Has this theorist’s approach to liberty fundamentally influenced the way we view liberty in the 21st century? Alternatively, is there a fundamental part of our understanding of liberty of which this theorist has not taken account? Why/why not?

Option III
Analyze the work of a theorist (from Hobbes and on; not Ibsen) that we have read in terms of his/her approach to equality. “Equality” is a large topic, so it is important to structure your analysis with some fundamental questions:
• Does the theorist view equality as fundamental to what it means to be human? Why or why not?
• Does the theorist view equality as fundamental to the (good or bad) functioning of the state? Why or why not?
• Is /should equality be integral the arrangements of power?
• Has this theorist’s approach to liberty fundamentally influenced the way we view equality in the 21st century? Alternatively, is there a fundamental part of our understanding of equality of which this theorist has not taken account? Why/why not?

Important requirements
• This report must be 10-12 typed pages in length (double-spaced; 12 font)
• The full version of an author’s work must be utilized. In other words, if you decide to write on Rousseau, you must read the full Social Contract/Discourse on Inequality.
• This report must contain at least two scholarly sources on the paper’s topic.
• For the purposes of this assignment, information derived from the internet is not considered scholarly source-material. You must go to the library to find standard scholarly commentary on the book/topic that you choose.
• This information must be actively utilized and footnoted in the report at the bottom of the page (NO ENDNOTES) using standard footnoting format. PAPERS SUBMITTED WITH ENDNOTES WILL BE RETURNED UNREAD AND THE ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CONSIDERED UNFULFILLED
• REPORT MUST CONTAIN PAGE NUMBERS ON EVERY PAGE!!!
• In addition, a full bibliography must be appended to the report.
• YOU MUST SUBMIT THIS ASSIGNMENT ON SAFE ASSIGN. YOU MUST ALSO HAND IN A HARD COPY TO ME BY THE BEGINNING OF CLASS ON MAY 14, 2012. NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS!

Hints for writing a successful paper
• Language and style are crucially important in presenting a persuasive case. When reading a written report, the reader has no other clue but what you provide in written form. Please help the reader.
• Please make your best argument. Making your best argument means that you have the responsibility to be as clear as possible so that the reader “gets” what you are trying to say.
• Clarity. This can be increased by paying special attention to, but is not limited to, the following items:
1. Use vocabulary properly (how else can the reader know what you are trying to say?);
2. Make sure that your tenses agree (for an analytic paper, it is generally best to stay in the present tense);
3. Make sure that your grammar is correct;
4. Be aware of homonyms that can be mistakenly applied (to/too/two, for example);
5. Use syntax correctly.
6. MAKE USE OF YOUR RESOURCES. This means having people read your work so that they can critique it from an “outside” perspective. Consider the following:
• Don’t be afraid to go to the Writing Center if you need help. Remember our class discussion, highlighting the classes given by the Writing Center for common issues in writing.
• Have friends/colleagues read your work to let you know if you are making your best case.
• Please come to my office to show me early drafts of your work, or just to kick ideas around.

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