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.

PPE Class of 2019

Class picture
Jonah, Kamyab
Peter T., Anikka, Tommy
Molly, Autumn, Peter N., Arthur, Michael Green
Eleanor Brown, Diana, Remy, Zeke, Crystal
Missing: Jeremy
Class picture

Class Notes

Tue, Sep 4
First Day
Thu, Sep 6
Sample Thesis and Prospectuses
Tue, Sep 11
Locke on Property
Thu, Sep 13
Tue, Sep 18
Piketty on Inequality
Thu, Sep 20
Piketty on Inheritance
Tue, Sep 25
Darity on Inequality
Thu, Sep 27
Corak on Inequality and Mobility
Tue, Oct 2
Currie on Inequality at Birth
Thu, Oct 4
Rawls’s Difference Principle
Tue, Oct 9
Dworkin’s Auction
Thu, Oct 11
Dworkin and the Social Safety Net
Tue, Oct 16
Thesis Updates
Thu, Oct 18
Thesis Updates
Thu, Oct 25
Anderson on Luck Egalitarianism
Tue, Oct 30
Williams on Equality
Thu, Nov 1
Experienced Utility
Tue, Nov 6
The Capabilities Approach
Thu, Nov 8
Criticism of the Capabilities Approach
Tue, Nov 13
Nagel on Global Justice
Thu, Nov 15
Dobbs on Immigration
Tue, Nov 20
Effective Altruism
Tue, Nov 27
Kidney Markets
Thu, Nov 29
Tue, Dec 4
Thu, Dec 6
Tue, Dec 11
Presentations and Pictures