Western Political Thought MCQ POLSC201


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Political thought, or political philosophy, is the study of questions concerning power, justice, rights, law, and other issues pertaining to governance. Whereas political science assumes that these concepts are what they are, political thought asks how they have come about and to what effect. Just as Socratess simple question How should we be governed? led to his execution, the question What makes a government legitimate? leads to political turmoil when posed at critical times. Political thought asks what form government should take and why; what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any; and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever. Generally speaking, political thought, political philosophy, and political theory are terms often used interchangeably to mean the study of philosophical texts related to politics.

This course examines major texts in the history of political thought. Many of these texts pose difficult questions concerning the political community, social order, and human nature. This course asks how different views on human nature and the uses of history inform the design of government. It also considers the ways in which thinkers like Plato, Machiavelli, and Rousseau have responded to the political problems of their times, and the ways in which they contribute to a broader conversation about human goods and needs, justice, democracy, and the ever-changing relationship between the citizen and the state.

One of our central aims in this course will be to gain a critical perspective on our times by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of various regimes and philosophical approaches. We will also work to better understand those assumptions and basic concepts that define the field of political science. Each of the three units that comprise this course is devoted to a broad theme central to understanding politics. The first unit, centered upon the texts of Plato and Aristotle, will address the polis, or political community. The second unit, featuring the work of John Locke, Niccol Machiavelli, and Thomas Hobbes, will explore the modern state and constitutional government. The third unit, introducing the texts of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels, will focus on democracy and the critique of liberal ideology. You will find that these political philosophies have shaped various forms of government, from tyranny to republican democracy and welfare states.

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Western Political Thought MCQ POLSC201
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Sample Questions from the Western Political Thought MCQ POLSC201 Quiz

Question: In Plato's Apology why is Socrates on trial?


For making libelous statements about prominent citizens of Athens

For corrupting the youth of Athens and believing in false gods

For not fulfilling his public duties as a citizen of Athens


Question: In the Crito, Socrates argues that:


The laws and customs of Athens as administered take precedence over individual conscience.

Because he has been unjustly charged and convicted, he welcomes death because justice can only exist in the underworld.

Because he has been unjustly charged and convicted, his execution will solidify his argument made in the Apology that justice can only be realized by living a private life of contemplation.

His execution will eventually cause the citizens of Athens to feel guilty for what they have done, and will ensure that his arguments and legacy endure.

Question: According to Socrates, what is the fundamental principle on which all human society should be based?


Duty to the city-state

Appeasement of the gods through sacrifice and virtuous action

The principle of specialization

Charity to one's neighbors

Question: What is the role of women as described in the ideal city?


They are limited to the producing class.

They belong to their own class of society.

The role of women is never mentioned in The Republic.

Women occupy the same roles that men occupy.

Question: In The Republic, Socrates attempts to define justice as a virtue of a human being through first defining justice as a virtue of a city. Which of the following is false?


Justice at the level of the individual precisely parallels justice at the level of society.

The guiding principle behind justice, both in the individual and in society, is harmony.

In a just individual, the soul becomes entirely rational.

In a just individual, the entire soul aims at fulfilling the desires originating from its rational part.

Question: Aristotle thinks that aristocracy based in virtue is superior to other forms of government, such as oligarchy or democracy. Which of the following reasons is false as to why he thinks this?


Democrats mistakenly think of equal citizenship as the ground of worth, without regard to specialization or virtue.

Democrats mistakenly believe that the end of the state is freedom, and they identify the best life with the life of freedom to satisfy one's desires.

Oligarchs think that wealth—a characteristic in terms of which citizens are unequal—is the ground of worth. They think so because they mistakenly think the end of the state is to accumulate wealth and property, and they mistakenly identify the best life with the possession of these external goods.

Aristocrats are only capable of recognizing and understanding what is excellent and fine because of inborn talents and abilities passed from one generation to the next.

Question: How does Socrates understand and explain the statement from the Oracle of Delphi that he, Socrates, is the wisest person in the world?


The Oracle has been able to understand arguments made by Socrates, while the citizens of Athens are not able.

The Oracle has been able to listen to all of Socrates's encounters with the citizens of Athens, and Socrates has shown himself to be the most wise among them.

The Oracle must have meant that because he, Socrates, knows that human wisdom is of little or no value, he is therefore the most wise.

The Oracle has been privy to the nefarious intent of Meletus's false accusations, and decided to intervene on behalf of Socrates for the sake of justice.

Question: In the Apology, for people to be genuinely just, they must lead


a political life, fully engaged with the day-to-day issues of the polis.

a private life of contemplation in pursuit of self-perfection.

a mixture of a private and a public life, intervening in public affairs only where and when it is absolutely necessary.

a mixture of a private and public life, taking time away, when public commitments and responsibilities allow for leisure, to pursue the virtues of contemplation and self-perfection.

Question: According to Socrates, philosopher-kings have the legitimate authority to rule because of


their knowledge of mathematics.

their understanding of the Form of the Beautiful.

their experience in making arguments and persuasion.

their understanding of the Form of the Good.

Question: Aristotle argues that the highest good to which we should aim can only be the highest good if it is


pleasing to the gods.

acceptable to all fellow citizens.

tangible yet unchanging over time.

something for its own sake, and not a means to some other end.

Question: In contrast to Plato's Forms and his emphasis on the importance of coming to understand the Form of the Good, Aristotle defines the highest end to which we should aim as:


Well-being attained through a life of action on the part of the soul that has reason.

The realization and application of one's natural talents and abilities for the glory of the gods and the city-state.

The safety, security, and prosperity of loved ones and family.

Leisurely pleasures enjoyed after hard work and sacrifice.

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Source:  Introduction to Western Political Thought. The Saylor Academy 2014, http://www.saylor.org/courses/polsc232/
Jordon Humphreys
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