This course will combine readings and methods from philosophy and economics to address ethical questions that are relevant to the goals and evaluation of public policies. These questions include: Should we assess social outcomes, policies and institutions by reference to well-being, fairness, rights, or other criteria? What do these notions consist in and can they be measured? Does well-being consist in happiness, life satisfaction, goal attainment, some combination of these, or something else? Is inequality bad in itself or because of the outcomes to which it leads? Can we measure how fair a society is? How should we incorporate consideration of future generations in thinking about our policies today? If we care about multiple values, how do we balance them? These questions of value are relevant to a broad variety of policy issues associated with topics such as taxation, immigration, climate change, democracy, and the boundaries of markets. Students will write a thesis relating to questions of value or their application to public decisions using methods and ideas from philosophy or economics.
- Teacher: Itai Sher