Political Science 458

POSC 458
Force in International Relations

Catalog Entry

POSC 458. Force in International Relations (IR)
Three Hours lecture (3).

Prerequisite: POSC 140 for non-POSC majors/minors or POSC 140 and POSC 290 for POSC majors/minors.

POSC 458 is an intensive study of the use of force in international relations and its effect on regimes and the soul. Themes include the classical perspective on force, just war theory, pacifism, empire maintenance and decay, and force and world order.


Detailed Description of Course Content

POSC 458 studies the following units:

  • The anarchic international milieu
  • Classical approaches to the problem of force (including selections form Homer, Polybius, Herodotus, and Thucydides)
  • Just War Theory and Pacifism
  • Modern strategic thought from Machiavelli through Clausewitz
  • Contemporary Politics - strategic thought, including theories of nuclear and revolutionary war
  • Empires - their origin, maintenance, and decay
  • The relation of force to human and cosmic order


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

POSC 458 is primarily a lecture and class discussion course. Student taught classes are also part of the instructional methods employed.


Goals and Objectives

Students who successfully complete POSC 458 will be able to identify the major problems involved with the use of force in international relations. Students will be able to recognize major thinkers and their thoughts on the problems raised. Students might begin a process of thinking that does not end with the last day of the semester.


Assessment Measures

Students in POSC 458 will be asked to write essays on queries arising from reading the assigned thinkers.


Other Course Information

Readings will be taken from a list that includes the following:

  • Herodotus, The History
  • Polybius, Histories
  • Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War
  • Homer, Iliad
  • Plato, Symposium, Timaeus, Crito, Gorgias
  • St. Augustine, The City of God
  • Machiavelli, The Prince
  • Hobbes, Leviathan
  • Clausewitz, On War
  • Leo Strauss, The City and Man
  • Eric Voegelin,The World of the Polis, The Ecumenic Age, The World of the Polis, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism


Review and Approval

April 1998 Reviewed M. J. Franck, Dept. Chair