Philosophy and Public Policy
This information is for the 2018/19 session.
Dr Campbell Brown
This course is taught by Prof. Alex Voorhoeve (weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas Term); Prof. Michael Otsuka (weeks 6-10 of MT); Dr. Johanna Thoma (weeks 1-5 of Lent Term); and Dr Campbell Brown (weeks 6-10 of Lent Term).
This course is compulsory on the MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy. This course is available on the MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Columbia), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in Economics and Philosophy, MSc in Public Administration and Government (LSE and Peking University), MSc in Public Policy and Administration and Master of Public Administration. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
The course offers critical reflection on the design and evaluation of public policies from the perspective of moral and political philosophy. To this end, we study a range of theories and concepts that are used in policy evaluation. We often discuss and evaluate them by focusing on specific policy proposals. The course addresses questions such as the following.
- What is a correct public measure of well-being?
- Should we distribute resources in health care to produce the most well-being overall or should we also aim to limit inequalities?
- Should people be left to bear the consequences of their free choices?
- May the government force you to buy health insurance?
- Is torture ever justified?
- Do prosperous countries have a right to close their borders to immigrants from poor countries?
- Should hate speech be protected by freedom of speech?
- Should the development of new drugs be left to private companies rewarded by patent protection?
- What is the optimal population size and what policies may the state pursue in order to achieve it?
- Should higher education be financed by student loans or general taxation?
- Should we be free to act as we choose so long as we do not harm others?
- Is killing morally worse than letting die?
10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.
Students will be expected to produce 2 essays and 1 presentation in the MT and 1 essay in the LT.
A detailed list of readings will be available on moodle. The following is an indicative sample of readings that may be discussed in the course.
- Greg Bognar and Iwao Hirose (2014). The Ethics of Health Care Rationing.
- A. Voorhoeve (2018) 'May a Government Mandate More Comprehensive Insurance than People Want for Themselves?' Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy.
- Michael Rustin (2016), 'The neoliberal university and its alternatives', Soundings
- Ronald Dworkin et al (1997) 'Assisted Suicide: The Philosophers' Brief'
- Carol Kates (2004). 'Reproductive Liberty and Overpopulation' Environmental Ethics.
- John Stuart Mill (1859), On Liberty
- Jonathan Wolff (2011), Ethics and Public Policy: A Philosophical Inquiry
- Joseph Carens (1987), 'Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders', The Review of Politics
- Jeff McMahan (2008), 'Torture in Theory and Practice', Public Affairs Quarterly
Additional readings will be available on Moodle.
Exam (67%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (33%, 2000 words) in the ST.
Student performance results
(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)
|Classification||% of students|
Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Total students 2017/18: 48
Average class size 2017/18: 16
Controlled access 2017/18: No
Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (MT & LT)
Value: One Unit
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Application of numeracy skills
- Specialist skills
Course survey results
(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score
The scores below are average responses.
Response rate: 96%
Reading list (Q2.1)
Course satisfied (Q2.4)