PHIL 004. Introduction to Philosophy, Politics, and Economics


Oxford university initiated an interdisciplinary program in PPE in the 1920s. Since then, several dozen colleges and universities throughout the world have established diverse versions of PPE. However different, all share the aim of providing an interdisciplinary education of integrating historical and contemporary thought prominent in philosophy, political theory, and economics. This course is a gateway to a possible minor in PPE*.

The aim of the course is not to teach economics but to consider philosophical issues that arise in economic theory and practice. These include moral questions (e.g., are there any moral limits on what should be for sale?; is the principle aim of economics to maximize subjective preference satisfaction?), questions in political philosophy (e.g., what is the proper role of the state in regulating economic activity? are there any sound principles of justice to determine whether and how to distribute economic benefits and burdens?), and questions about the understanding and limits of economic tools (e.g., cost benefit analysis).

We will read excerpts from some classical "worldly philosophers", such as Adam Smith and Karl Marx,  as well as more contemporary thinkers, such as John Rawls. Many required and suggested readings will be from various online sources.

One topic we will discuss are modifications of the way most people understand how contemporary capitalism works and its justifications. For instance: should there be a universal basic income? should industries over a certain size be worker-owned? should we introduce a property-owning democracy, where every adult is assigned shares to invest in a basket of possible investments?
* The Faculty has not yet approved a minor in PPE. If it does, this course will be approved as part of the minor. In any case, it counts as a first course in Philosophy.
Prerequisite: Freshmen require an AP score of 4 or 5 in ECON or take an ECON course simultaneously with this course.
Humanities.
1 credit.
Fall 2018. Oberdiek.
Catalog chapter: Philosophy  
Department website: http://www.swarthmore.edu/philosophy


Check the Spring 2018 Schedule of Courses

Check the Fall 2018 Schedule of Courses




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