Freedom, Markets, & Well-being PPE 160, Fall 2012

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. September 10. Locke and Gibbard
  2. September 12. Williams and Nozick
  3. September 17. Mill on liberty :: handout: Mill on Utilitarianism and Liberty
  4. September 19. Arrow on health care
  5. September 24, 2012. Rawls’s informal presentation
  6. September 26, 2012. The Original Position
  7. October 1, 2012. Dworkin’s auction
  8. October 3. Dworkin’s insurance plans
  9. October 8. Applications day
  10. October 10. Rose Ehler’s thesis
  11. October 15. Thesis projects
  12. October 17. Warren and Brandeis on privacy
  13. October 24. Thomson on privacy (updated October 28)
  14. October 29. Slippery slopes
  15. October 31. Posner on privacy (updated November 2)
  16. November 5. The capabilities approach (updated November 10)
  17. November 7. Is there a right to food?
  18. November 12. Shue and O’Neill on the right to food :: handout: Rights of necessity
  19. November 14. Dworkin on choice
  20. November 19. Schwartz on choice
  21. November 21. Experienced utility
  22. November 26. The theoretical part of Nudge :: handout: Paternalism
  23. November 28. Policy nudges
  24. December 3. Glaeser on Nudge
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Freedom, Markets, & Well-being