Freedom, Markets, & Well-Being PPE 160, Fall 2007

Course Description

This course uses the three disciplines of the PPE major, philosophy, politics and economics, to describe the liberties and safeguards that promote human flourishing and to look at the roles played by market economies and political institutions in the construction of contemporary society.

One of our themes will be the tension between freedom, as exemplified in economic markets, and equality, as exemplified by government action to alter unequal market outcomes. A second theme is institutional roles. What aspects of life are best handled through markets, by government, or in the sphere of personal relations? A third line of inquiry explores human well-being. Is it a subjective matter of getting what we want, whatever that may be, or are there objective standards of the good life? What light do empirical studies of happiness throw on the nature of well-being and the policies that best promote it?

One purpose of the course is to develop cross-disciplinary thinking and analysis. Specifically, the course is designed to prepare PPE majors to write a senior thesis that brings the insights of abstract and wide-ranging scholarship to bear on issues of public policy. With this in mind, we turn to one of the richest areas of contemporary domestic policy debate, the provision of health care. In this part of the course, we will read a Politea prize-winning thesis and talk about how to write one of your own.

Class notes

  1. Monday & Wednesday, September 10 & 12. Locke and Smith on property and government; updated handout.
  2. Monday, September 17. Williams on equality, updated September 30; handout.
  3. Wednesday, September 19. Criticisms of Williams; handout.
  4. Monday, September 24. Dworkin; handout.
  5. Wednesday, September 26. Menzel vs. Dworkin; handout.
  6. Monday, October 1. Anderson on market vs. non-market spheres, updated October 2; handout, updated October 4.
  7. Wednesday, October 3. Sandel on genetic enhancements; handout.
  8. Monday, October 8. Sunstein on preferences and norms.
  9. Wednesday, October 17. Utility theory, updated October 23; handout.
  10. Wednesday, October 24. Experienced utility.
  11. Monday, October 29. Libertarian paternalism; handout.
  12. Wednesday, October 31. Nussbaum’s list of objective goods, updated November 2; handout.
  13. Monday, November 5. Health care in the US.
  14. Wednesday, November 7. Consent and pricing life; handout.
  15. Monday, November 12. QALYs; handout.
  16. Wednesday, November 14. Infants and consent; handout.
  17. Monday, November 19. The politics of health care; updated November 20.
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Freedom, Markets, and Well-Being