About This 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 syllabus (PDF) has a schedule of topics for discussion, readings, and assignments; it also describes the standards for grades and other policies for the class. Registered students can find all other materials on Sakai.

Class Notes

Tue, Aug 29
Starting Gate
Thu, Aug 31
Sample Thesis
Tue, Sep 5
Locke on Property
Thu, Sep 7
Gibbard on Locke
Tue, Sep 12
Piketty on Inequality
Thu, Sep 14
Piketty on Inheritance
Tue, Sep 19
Mankiw and Darity
Thu, Sep 21
Corak on Mobility
Tue, Sep 26
Currie on Inequality
Thu, Sep 28
Rawls on the Difference Principle
Wed, Oct 4
Dworkin on Equality
Thu, Oct 5
Dworkin on Labor Markets
Tue, Oct 10
Thesis Updates
Thu, Oct 12
Thesis Updates (updated Tue, Nov 14)
Thu, Oct 19
Anderson on Equality
Tue, Oct 24
Williams on Equality
Thu, Oct 26
Happiness and Utility
Tue, Oct 31
The Capabilities Approach
Thu, Nov 2
Capabilities and Gender Inequality
Tue, Nov 7
Effective Altruism
Thu, Nov 9
Kidney Markets
Tue, Nov 14
Sharks Eat the Retrospective Voting Theory (updated Sat, Nov 18)
Thu, Nov 16
The Group Theory