Ethical Dimensions of Public Policy: Great Books and Great Ideas

MPP 601

(3 units)

This course involves a survey of the "great books," which provide a philosophical, historical, and moral foundation for policy initiatives. It is intended to be a touchstone for returning again and again to the great themes that recognize the permanent, tested principles that provide the roots of American order, including a belief in God and the recognition that men and women are sacred beings created with a transcendent end. The course will expose students to great leaders who have fashioned the public good over the centuries.

Specific books will vary from year to year and professor to professor, but the course will organize its readings around such central themes as limited government (why the founders wanted this, how it has changed, why voters are conflicted about it); capitalism (why it works, its relationship to democracy, what criticisms are made of it, how they may be dealt with); the moral consequences of public action; and the moral principles involved in the tension between moral autonomy and moral dependence. This course, together with MPP 600, acts as an introduction and foundation for the significant themes with which students are challenged to grapple in subsequent courses.