Students in this course use a pedagogy known as 'Reacting to the Past' to develop their skills in written and oral argumentation. The course will revolve around two role-playing exercises: first, in ancient Athens, students consider the ideas of Socrates as they debate the restoration of that city's famed democratic political system; second, in Paris, 1792, the ideas of Burke and Rousseau open up new conceptions of the roles of citizens within French society. Students read major texts from each period and research the historical and philosophical backgrounds; then students assume the role of a contemporary character to debate the issues. The heart of the course is persuasion; students must reach their own decisions on basic questions of political and social order. To do so, they must persuade the other characters that their character's view makes more sense than those of their opponents.