Ethics in Theory, Policy and Practice

Professor: Boudreaux
Units: 0.5
Elective Course
Concentrations: Economic Analysis, Quantitative Methods, and Social Science

The goal of this course is to equip students with a background in ethical frameworks and to sharpen analytical tools that can be applied to a range of policy cases and professional practice. The course is divided into three components.

First, we will evaluate prominent ethical theories to consider questions such as: Is there a universal and objective morality or is it relative to persons, cultures, or nations? Is the right action the one that produces the best consequences or does the intent or motive of the actor also matter? Can morality be understood as the product of a social agreement and/or be explained through evolutionary dynamics?

The second component will look at policy issues from an ethical standpoint. These policy issues may include: How should ethical considerations guide immigration policy? Can states successfully promote national security while also securing human rights? What are the moral principles that apply to war and how are they followed? What are the ethical questions surrounding emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and cyberspace? We will also consider other policy issues based on students’ interests and ongoing projects.

The third component focuses on ethics in practice, including through exploring the ethical issues that arise in one’s professional life especially with respect to public policy work. Throughout the course, we will engage in facilitated discussion, review policy and strategy documents from governmental and non-governmental organizations, and emphasize the development of critical analysis tools.