Course Code: PUBLG037
Course Tutors: Professor Albert Weale (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.
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.
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.