Philosophy and Public Policy
This information is for the 2020/21 session.
Dr Campbell Brown LAK 2.04
This course will be taught by Campbell Brown, Jonathan Parry, Johanna Thoma, and Michael Otsuka.
This course is compulsory on the MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy. This course is available on the 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) and MSc in Public Policy and 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 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?
- How should we distribute the burdens of military service?
- Should children be given the vote?
10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.
This course has a reading week in Week 6 of both MT and LT. Some lectures and/or seminars may be delivered in an online format.
Students will be expected to produce 2 essays 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 Ethic
- 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
- Michael J. Robillard and Bradley J. Strawser (2016), ‘The Moral Exploitation of Soldiers’, Public Affairs Quarterly
- Annabelle Lever (2014), ‘When the Philosopher Enters the Room’, Philosophy and Public Issues
Additional readings will be available on Moodle.
Exam (60%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (30%, 2000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (10%).
Student performance results
(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)
|Classification||% of students|
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.
Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Total students 2019/20: 41
Average class size 2019/20: 14
Controlled access 2019/20: Yes
Value: One Unit
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Application of numeracy skills
- Specialist skills