PH222     
Philosophy and Public Policy

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Campbell Brown LAK 2.04

The course will be taught by Campbell Brown, Jonathan Parry, Johanna Thoma, and Alex Voorhoeve.

Availability

This course is compulsory on the BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is available on the BSc in Philosophy and Economics, BSc in Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method and BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

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?

Teaching

10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

This course has a reading week in Week 6 of both MT and LT. Some lectures and/or classes may be delivered in an online format.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 2 essays in the MT and 1 essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

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. Routledge.
  • 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.
  • 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

Assessment

Exam (60%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (30%, 2000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (10%).

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2018/19 - 2020/21 combined)

Classification % of students
First 42.6
2:1 51.5
2:2 4.7
Third 0
Fail 1.2

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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.

Key facts

Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2020/21: 69

Average class size 2020/21: 12

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills