History of Political Thought

Luiss PPE Program

Spring 2019

History of Political Thought



All seminars will be provided by Prof Gianfranco Pellegrino.

Students can contact him via email or during office hours.

Emailgpellegrino [at] luiss [dot] it

Office: 5th Floor, Room 542

Office Hours:

Wednesdays 1:00pm – 2:00pm, & by appointment

Course description

This unit will provide an overview of the historical development of political thought and ideas. The focus will be mainly on texts and arguments. The following authors will be considered: Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. The following models will be taken into account: city-state and politics as health of the soul and the city, city-state and politics as good living, republic and politics as civic virtue, nation-state and contractarianism, democracy.

Required Readings

Steven M. Cahn, Political Philosophy. The Essential Texts (New York: Oxford University Press, different editions).

Additional Readings

Relevant entries in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta:

Course Assignments

The breakdown of grades will be as follows:

— Intermediate Exam – 50% (Optional)

Students can to take a written exam on the texts discussed during classes (scheduled on 3 April). The exam is not aimed only at testing students’ rote learning, but also their capacity of critical thinking. Accordingly, it will be a sort of open book exam. A text will be presented to students, and on this basis of this, they should write a short comment addressing the main issues discussed by the author. More information will be provided in class.

Notice that the intermediate exam is optional: if the outcome is unsuccessful or below the expectations, the grade will be not considered.

Here a sample of the exam.

Here are the grades.

— Final Exam – 50% (Mandatory)

To pass the final exam, students have two possibilities.

 a) They can give a presentation in class.

Presentations should be based on a paper you have prepared before and should be delivered in no more than 10 min. You can use PowerPointPrezi, a handout, and anything else you think could help to make the presentation clear and effective.

There is a limited number of slots available (16) and I will allocate slots on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis. 

Students are expected to give their presentations during the last four lectures of this course (24th of April / 29th of April / 6th of May and 8th of May).

Scheduled presentations:

May 8th:

  1. Chiaria
  2. Barbetti
  3. Micheli
  4. Granata
  5. Caminucci
  6. Sahin

b) They can submit a paper a week before the exam date to Prof Pellegrino via email.

Papers must not exceed the maximum length of 4,000 words. Papers should be formed in Times New Romans 12pt, double-spaced, 3cm margins each side, page numbers on the bottom of each page. Footnotes and references should follow the “Chicago Manual of Style” (

Both the presentation and the paper must contain a detailed and careful analysis of an excerpts of one of the text presented and discussed in class, or of any other passage contained in the following works:

  • Plato, The Republic (
  • Aristotle, Politics (
  • Hobbes, Leviathan (
  • Locke, Second Treatise (
  • Hume, Treatise of the Human Nature (

The presentation and the paper must address four key issues:

1. describe the context of  the passage within the work of the author in question;

2. provide an analytic summary of the argument and its main steps;

3. provide a critical analysis of the arguments supporting the claims (implicit assumptions, fallacies, obscure argumentative moves, transition from presumptions to conclusion);

4. present possible objections (either considered by the author or by the student).

You need to communicate which options you choose by 27 February at latest to Prof Pellegrino.

In-class participation

Attendance is compulsory, as established by LUISS general regulation. The only reasons for not attending classes are serious health or personal problems, certified by medical statements.

Special Needs

If you are a student with a disability who requires accommodations to achieve equal access, please contact Prof. Pellegrino via email as soon as possible, preferably within the first week.


The schedule of readings below is tentative. I will announce changes in class or via email.

Week 1

Monday 11 February 2019 (11:00/13:30) – Room A210 Intro

Wednesday 13 February 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209 Plato’s Republic

Week 2

Monday 18 February 2019 (11:00/13:30) – Room A210 Plato’s Republic

Wednesday 20 February 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209 Plato’s Republic

Week 3

Monday 25 February 2019 (9:30/12:00) – Room A210 Guest Lecture

Wednesday 27 February 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209 Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics

Week 4

Monday 4 March 2019 (11:00/13:30) – Room A210 Aristotle

Wednesday 6 March 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209 Aristotle

Week 5

Monday 11 March 2019 (11:00/13:30) – Room A210  Aristotle

Wednesday 13 March 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209  Aristotle

Week 6 

Monday 18 March 2019 (11:00/13:30) – Room A210  Aristotle

Wednesday 20 March 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209  Aristotle

Week 7 

Monday 25 March 2019 (11:00/13:30) – Room A210  Hobbes

Wednesday 27 March 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209  Hobbes

Week 8

Monday 1 April 2019 (11:00/13:30) – Room A210  No class

Wednesday 3 April 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209 Midterm examination

Week 9:

Monday 08 April 2019 (11:00/13:30) – Room A210  Guest lecture — L. Zucca (King’s College), Conscience, Truth, and Action

Wednesday 10 April 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209 Hobbes

Week 10

Monday 15 April 2019 (11:00/13:30) – Room A210 Locke

Wednesday 17 April 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209 Guest lecture — E. Galeotti (Eastern Piedmont), Political Self-Deception

Week 11: Workshop 

Wednesday 24 April 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209 Locke

Monday 29 April 2019 (11:00/13:30) – Room A210 Locke

Week 12: 

Monday 06 May 2019 (11:00/13:30) – Room A210 Locke

Wednesday 08 May 2019 (14:00/16:30) – Room A209 Students’ Presentation


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