The Search for the Just Society
Edward J. Dodson
INSTRUCTOR'S MANUAL, INTRODUCTION
The objective of this course is to introduce to students the
forces that shape history and the consistency of human behavior over
time and across space. By showing the connections that bind us with
our past, students will gain a greater understanding of the present.
As a primary area of discussion, the course traces the development
of socio-political arrangements and institutions from the earliest
period of recorded history (and before) to the modern era. Human
behavior is examined in the context of societal structure, with an
emphasis on the nature of power and how hierarchical structures
advance or thwart the forces of cooperation and competition.
Also discussed are the dominant socio-political philosophies that
both attacked and defended the socio-political structure of
societies as they have undergone change.
Key concepts discussed include the distinction between a human
rights doctrine versus assumed or delegated rights
as the basis for systems of positive law, and the reliance on moral
sense principles to establish objective criteria by which the
socio-political arrangements and institutions of any society can be
shown to be just or unjust.
The nineteenth-century reform activist, newspaper editor and
self-taught political economist, Henry George (1839-1897), is
presented as one of the significant socio-political philosophers and
political economists of the nineteenth century. His life and
activism are discussed in the context of the reform and Progressive
era, contrasting the philosophy of cooperative individualism
which he espoused with that of Fabian and Marxist socialism
dominating the reform movement in Europe -- as well as how
cooperative individualism differs from the compromise program of
reform we think of as Liberalism.