I teach courses which integrate philosophy, politics, and economics and on the history of political thought, contemporary liberalism, global justice and international law. Here are some of the courses I have taught over the past few years.
Political and Economic Philosophy. This is the gateway module for the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program drawing together key aspects of all three subject areas and showing the value of an interdisciplinary approach to the basic questions of political life. We study the nature of liberty and rights, the role of the state in society, collective action problems, and questions of justice. The guiding questions of the course are: How can the disciplines of Philosophy, Politics and Economics together contribute to an understanding of a just society? What is the role of economic analysis? Are there things that cannot be sold on markets? Why do we care about liberty and what kinds of liberties are worth protecting? How are liberty and democracy or liberty and equality connected? Students become familiar with some of the concepts and arguments central to the disciplines of Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. One important goal of the course is to enable them to articulate more clearly how the normative and the empirical dimension of law and public policy inform each other.
Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy. This course focuses on different areas of public policy to show that moral and economic theory plays a pivotal role in setting goals for public policies and measuring their success. Moral theories inform people’s choices between alternative goals and provide constraints for policy-makers. Economic theories model human behavior and help us understand human choice in the context of resource scarcity and incentives problems. How to increase tax compliance given people’s cost-benefit calculations is one question economic theory can offer insights into. Most of the policy questions of our time have economic, moral, and political dimensions we must understand in order to participate as informed voters or actors involved in political decision-making. The course applies insights and tools from ethical theory, economics, and political science to policy-making and policy evaluation.
The Philosophy of International Law. Should states obey international law? Is international law really ‘law?’ It is just? Who should enforce it? What kinds of values should it reflect and what kinds of institutions should support it? Is it merely an expression of Western values or is it universal? This advanced course discusses the nature, sources, justification, and effects of international law. The readings blend analyses of core areas of public international law and classical texts in the philosophy of law.
Introduction to Political Thought. Is the purpose of government to make you free, virtuous or to keep you safe? Is it to create and guarantee equality? What is the best form of government, or does such a thing exist? Where does liberal democracy come from? What kind(s) of freedom does it produce? In this course we investigate a series of debates about freedom and its relation to equality, justice and good government in the writings of key figures of political thought in classical and modern times. We ascertain the relevance of their work for us today by connecting them to a number of contemporary debates. Our investigation will focus on four themes. 1. Freedom in relation to political obligation and civil disobedience in Plato, Thoreau, and Martin Luther King, Jr. 2. Freedom, virtue and the public good in Aristotle and Aquinas. 3. The social contract as a condition of individual freedom in Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. 4. Commercial society, freedom and social progress in Marx, Smith and Mill.
Morality, Law, and the State. Students explore the importance of moral reasoning to the study of legal and political institutions of the modern state. through questions such as: What is the purpose of law? What is the role of law in guiding state action? Or individual behavior? What are the limits of the authority of the law? What are the values and principles that justify and circumscribe the authority of the law over our lives? They consider some classic texts as well as contemporary readings on the nature of state’s authority to make law, constitutionalism and the rule of law, and resistance to unjust laws.