We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, Level 3
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Lesson 2 Purpose
People frequently make judgments about governments or acts of governments, praising them as "good" or criticizing them as "bad." Those judgments may reflect ideas about human nature, the proper function and scope of government, the rights of individuals, and other values. Political philosophers have discussed these matters for thousands of years. This lesson examines concepts such as the common good, civic virtue, the state of nature, natural rights, consent, and the social contract. These concepts are central to discussions about government.


When you have finished this lesson, you should be able to describe how and why natural rights philosophy differs from classical republicanism and how both systems of thought influenced the founding generation in America. You also should be able to explain the kinds of challenges that a society faces when it strives to preserve the rights to life, liberty, property, and "the pursuit of happiness" while at the same time promoting the common good and civic virtue. Finally, you should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions on the importance of civic virtue today and the role of political philosophy in thinking about government. Audio ]
Lesson 2      What Ideas about Civic Life Informed the Founding Generation?
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