Freedom, Markets, and Well-being

PPE 160, Fall 2014

An overview of the course

In this course, we bring together scholarship from philosophy, politics and economics to study the philosophical underpinnings and social institutions of contemporary American society and the world in which it operates. Working across disciplinary boundaries, we examine scholarship that seeks to describe the liberties, freedoms and safeguards that promote human flourishing and that looks carefully at the roles played by market economies and political institutions in the construction of contemporary society.

One goal for the course is to prepare PPE majors to write their senior theses in the spring. Concrete work on the thesis is required at regular intervals throughout the term and the final project is a thesis prospectus. (Students from departments that do not require a thesis are invited to chat with us about a suitably modified assignment.) Another goal is to spend our sessions synthesizing work in the three disciplines of philosophy, politics, and economics. This year, our focus will be on inequality. We will ask what economists, philosophers, and political scientists have to say about inequality and how work in one area is related to that in the others.

The class

Class picture


The syllabus (PDF) contains a schedule of topics for discussion, readings, and assignments. It also describes the standards for grades and other policies for the class.


The best way for registered students to access the site is through Sakai. The Sakai site has links to everything you see here but it also has announcements and pdf files of the readings. When the term ends, the Sakai site will no longer be published but this site will still be here.


Eleanor Brown’s office is Carnegie 216. For Fall 2014, her office hours are Wednesdays 10:00-11:45 and Thursdays 2:30-3:45. Her department page has more information about her research and courses.

Michael Green’s office is Pearsons 207. For Fall 2014, his office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9-11. His home page has links to websites for his other courses.

Our email addresses and office phone numbers are available from the Pomona College directory: select Faculty/Staff and enter the name.


  1. Tuesday, September 2. Thesis topics
  2. Thursday, September 4. Ehler thesis
  3. Tuesday, September 9. Locke on property and equality
  4. Thursday, September 11. Gibbard on Locke
  5. Tuesday, September 16. Piketty on inequality
  6. Thursday, September 18. Corak on mobility
  7. Tuesday, September 23. Currie on inequality at birth
  8. Thursday, September 25. Rawls
  9. Tuesday, September 30. Barry on equal opportunity
  10. Thursday, October 2. Tea Party and desert
  11. Tuesday, October 7. Dworkin on equality
  12. Thursday, October 9. Dworkin on undercompensation
  13. Tuesday, October 14. Thesis ideas 2
  14. Thursday, October 16. Thesis ideas 2b
  15. Thursday, October 23. Anderson on luck egalitarianism
  16. Tuesday, October 28. Frankfurt on equality
  17. Thursday, October 30. Williams on equality
  18. Tuesday, November 4. The capabilities approach
  19. Thursday, November 6. Thesis formatting
  20. Tuesday, November 11. Dworkin on choice
  21. Thursday, November 13. Kidney markets
  22. Tuesday, November 18. Experienced utility
  23. Thursday, November 20. Nudge part 1
  24. Tuesday, November 25. Nudge part 2
  25. Tuesday, December 2. Libertarians on Nudge
  26. Thursday, December 4. Prospectuses 1