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Public Ethics

Course Code: PUBLG037

Course Tutors: Dr John Filling (Department of Political Science)

Assessment: One 3,000 word essay

Credit Value: 15

About this course

The course explores the ethical responsibilities of politicians, public servants and citizens, and the advantages and drawbacks of the various ways of morally evaluating their behaviour and the policies they enact. Combining theory and practice through the analysis of concrete cases, the course addresses such issues as the use of violence, the nature of corruption, official secrecy, the distribution of heath care, the utility of cost benefit analysis, the assessment of risk, and the regulation of animal experimentation, gambling and drugs. Students will reflect on such questions as the importance of process compared to outcomes, whether a good character is necessary or sufficient for taking ethical political decisions, the relevance of context to the moral criteria we apply and conclusions we draw, and the sheer difficulty of applying philosophical principles in practice.

Course aims

To provide students with an overview of the main forms of normative evaluation of public policy and to develop their ability to critically apply them to the analysis of a number of cases. Course objectives By the end of the course, students should have attained:

  • a clear grasp of certain key concepts and theories in applied moral and political theory;
  • knowledge of some of the main theoretical debates surrounding the moral appraisal of public policy making;
  • an ability to construct theoretically informed and empirically backed normative arguments to the analysis of specific case studies.

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Contact us

School of Public Policy,
The Rubin Building,
29/31 Tavistock Square,
London, WC1H 9QU.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 4999,
Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 4978,

Postgraduate enquiries

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 4982/4950

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Page last modified on 27 aug 15 16:41

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