Master of International Affairs   Master of Public Policy  

Philosophy and public policy

The objective of the course is to provide the link between contemporary political philosophy and public policy. Participants will examine diverse areas of public policy, both domestic and international, from the point of view of moral and political philosophy. The course will combine a systematic discussion of normative questions with an evaluation of specific policy proposals. Participants will be trained in the use of relevant terminology and will develop their skills in advancing and assessing normative arguments critically reflecting upon the different conceptions of political philosophy and applying them to policy issues in carefully selected case studies.


How should our political community be organised? How can politicians and public officials gain support for the policies they pursue unless they represent them as legitimate? What is the relationship between legality and legitimacy? Are there any normative ideals that can provide ultimate justification for certain policy making procedures? Do we need elaborate ideal conceptions in order to organise our political life or is a comparative approach which focusses on real existing alternatives more suitable and operational to real world politics? How should we weigh fundamental values like liberty, equality and welfare and at what level? When we want to improve the institutions under which we live, should we reform parts of a given whole or entirely redesign them? Are democracy and free markets interdependent or not? How should a public official decide in a fundamentally uncertain environment in which the future will not necessarily look like the past?

This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.

Instructor